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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 7, 2006 /10 Tamuz, 5766

Oh, that I may believe!

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo



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Doubt is the breeding ground for genuine faith


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Once a young man approached a Jew in the street and told him that his synagogue needed a tenth man to make up a minyan (quorum) for communal prayer. The man responded: I am an apikores (heretic)! To which the young man answered: Since when does an apikores not have to pray?(1)


Once when Rabbi Noach of Lekhovitz was in his room, he heard how one of his disciples began to recite Maimonids' Principles of Faith in the House of Study, next door, but stopping immediately after the words "I believe with perfect faith", whispered to himself. "I don't understand that!" And then once more: "I don't understand that!" What is it that you do not understand?, the sage asked. "I don't understand what it is all about", said the man. 'I say: "I believe." If I really do believe, then how can I possible sin? But if I do not really believe, why am I telling lies? "It means" answered the Rabbi, that the words: "I believe" are a prayer, meaning "Oh, that I may believe!" Then the Chassid (disciple) was suffused with glow from within. "That is right", he cried. "That is right, Oh, that I may believe, Lord of the world, oh, that I may believe! (2)


We are living through one of the most difficult times in Jewish history. Since the days of emancipation, Judaism has come under constant attack and many have left the fold and are lost to our nation. This has had a devastating effect on the future of the Jewish people. Because of this it has become abundantly clear than there is a desperate need to turn the tide and bring Jewish education back to our young people. This call does not only come from Orthodox circles but even from some of the most secular Jews who realize that without proper Jewish education there is no hope for a Jewish future, neither in Israel nor in the Diaspora.

EXPELLING THE DIVINE TO SAVE A FAITH
It has even been argued that the belief in G-d or the observance of rituals should no longer be central to Jewish Education. Rather, Jewish "belonging", cultural events and the study of Jewish history should become the main way to encourage Jewish identity and pride. This, so it is argued, should go hand in hand with regular visits to Israel and an intensification of the Zionist enterprise.


Reasons given for this switch are that the belief in G-d or the need for Jewish observance is no longer enough of an incentive to stay Jewish. This, so it is argued, is due the fact that belief in G-d is no longer viable in an age in which science has replaced religion and that observance, while of importance to a small fraction of the nation, no longer speaks to the majority of our young people.


However, this is easier said than done. In our world in which so many vital values became obsolete , in which many are overwhelmed with every kind of pleasure and comfort, man feels more and more a stranger in his own skin. The overall picture of man is that since he has nearly everything, he is nearly nothing. Much of his life is surrounded with existential emptiness.


Lots of people have little to live for.


What becomes clearer and clearer is that personal meaning is nearly meaningless unless it is related to a transpersonal meaning. What man is more and more looking for is meaning to his life which transcends all particular objectives. A loyalty which is ultimate. And eventually the question is: Is there anything to die for? This is the only reason why man wants and is able to live life and endure life. This need has become most urgent in modern times. Only when we are able to offer our young people a way in which they will be able to experience the need for an ultimate calling will there be a change to recapture their souls.


To argue that the belief in G-d is outdated is not only a gross misunderstanding, it is also a misreading of what people need. If anything is true it is that all the different kinds of false gods and ideologies are crumbling and that man is hungry for the voice of G-d because it is the only objective which can give man a feeling that there is indeed something to die for. The problem is that this voice has been stifled and there is an urgent need to recapture its echo.

MISUNDERSTANDING RELIGION'S COMPONENTS
What has done enormous harm is that in nearly all religious circles G-d is taken for granted and never contemplated. These circles have failed to understand the difference between creed and faith.


Jewish faith is not a dogma. Faith is not an easy or a secure achievement neither is it an attitude acquired immediately or once and for all. It takes an instant to trust an idol but it takes ages to achieve attachment to G-d. It requires effort, stirring, and preparation. In needs to grow, in the realization of the mystery of all existence, in prayer and in unselfish deeds. Faith means striving for faith. It is never an arrival. It is a constant journey and it can only burst forth at single moments.


In no way can it be commanded.

DOUBT IS THE BREEDING GROUND FOR GENUINE FAITH
Faith is not born from logical deduction. It is born out of doubt and doubt is the breeding ground for genuine faith. To believe that all doubts must be settled before we attain faith is a false notion. Reading the lives of Abraham, Moses, the many prophets or Job just shows that they lived with implacable perplexities many of which were never solved.


To have faith is to live with doubt and unresolved "certainties" and be prepared to rise above ourselves and our wisdom. Looking into the Jewish tradition with its many debates, one gets a clear understanding that those who deny themselves the comfort of certain belief are much more authentic than all those who are sure.


The famous Chassidic sage Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk was once told about a great rabbi who claimed that during the seven days of the feast of Succos, his eyes would see Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David come to his Sukkah. The Kotzker Rebbe responded: "I do not see the heavenly guests, I only have faith that they are present and to have faith is greater than to see."


Faith means that we worship G-d before we affirm His existence. We praise before we are sure, we respond before we question. (3) The great art is to live a life of religious devotion before we are exactly certain what we believe. The truth is that man is able to die for something which he is not able to say for sure that it is true but for which he is prepared to die because his inner faith tells him it is right to do so. This honest admission is the very reason why it is not only possible to be religious in modern times, but is the very stimulus to do so.


What young people look for is to live a life of commitment without having to be sure or to buy in to dogmas but rather take an existential risk. To be able to say: I am prepared to risk my life for something ultimate I have faith in.


To argue that Judaism would be better off when it is served by cultural events, social gatherings in Hillel houses or even trips to Israel is badly misreading the existential situation of the Jewish people in our days. All that it will do in the long run is to add to the problem. Only an ultimate value is able to shape a fully committed soul.


The question is not whether G-d exists or that the observance of the rituals is divine, but to realize that without G-d and observances Judaism is doomed to fail.


Our first concern is to bring G-d back into the lives of young people and to teach them that the ultimate call is to re-engage with Judaism and tell them to take the risk to be religious even when they cannot be sure.


Studying the beauty of Jewish rituals with their rich colors, their deep wisdom and its healthy outlook on life is enough of a compelling reason to commit oneself to its lifestyle whether or not one is convinced of its origin. What needs to be understood is that life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises and that we can only be absolutely certain of things we do not fully understand.


To believe is not to prove, not to explain but to accede to a vision .


It is for that reason that even a heretic should pray.


Oh, that I may believe!


(1) Heard from Professor Menachem Kellner. (2) Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasssidim, NY, 1948, vol 2, p.158 (3) See the famous hymn "Ein K'elokenu" in the Jewish morning service

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JWR contributor Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. To comment, please click here.

© 2006, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo