September 26, 2004

The Wisdom of Torah

I am an Orthodox Jew, and I have been an Orthodox Jew since I was in my teens; slowly through those years taking on new more of the Mitzvot (commandments) that I felt G-d had laid out for me.

I am not always a happy mitzvah doer; like following traffic laws even when the streets are empty, and no police or radar or cameras are around, I sometimes felt---Really, why must I? Okay, I knew G-d was always watching, but it is sometimes hard to keep that sensation in mind.

No, I would sit there on Shabbat and think; this really is the day to DO my needlework; nothing else is calling my attention away. Why shouldn't I do so? Or have a hot; calming and restful. Or Kashrut; come on! You know how difficult it can be finding kosher food in the middle of nowhere? How is that for a vacation, to go take half your fridge with you and have to cook along the way? Tahart Hamishpacha? Laws of family purity; so if I get the hots for my dh smack in the middle of the tumah (ritually unfit, not unclean) days, when sex is forbidden, and I just have to hold off? Now how is that helpful to love and marriage?

But slowly through the years I have come to learn the wisdom of the Torah and have decided, well G-d really did know what He was doing when he made the laws.

Take Shabbat and forgoing favorite activities; were I to do my needlework I know the day would come when someone needed a button sewed on, a skirt hemmed mended; all the things I never have time for during the week would become "Saturday jobs" because Saturday is the day off... and slowly I would find my Shabbat spent on tasks not Torah.

Lovemaking whenever I want? Desire builds; I wait, and it becomes a date. I time we have worked for and planned for, quietly. A bit of spice.

The laws of mourning, which have not yet fallen upon me, and G-d willing never will (the Moshiach should come before they are necessary), became sensible and wise after watching a friend of mine go through the week of Shiva for his mother, who died almost a year ago, suddenly and tragically. His sister, who is not religious, at first felt the restrictions foolish...but through the week she found and I saw how helpful the laws were in helping a person get past their grief and onto the road of acceptance. It doesn't make the pain diminish, but the laws for the incumbent upon the mourners (7 close relatives---mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, husband, wife) the not bathing, not changing one's clothes, sitting on low chairs or stools, not going out, covering the mirror, gives everyone in the house a chance to come to terms with what has happened, even if they are not the mourners to come to terms with what has occurred.

The older I get the more I see the wisdom and kindness in the laws that G-d gave us, and how they help us go through the days, respect the earth and the world given to us, and respect each other.

I may have started my journey into Orthdox Judaism because I felt that it was the right path, even if I didn't like it, but as I progress I am coming to learn that not only do I love the laws, but they love me; that they are G-d's way of wrapping His arms about me and supporting me through life.

I'm providing a link to Simon's excellent piece on Yom Kippur because it, and the comments that followed are what inspired this post.

Posted by Rachel Ann at September 26, 2004 07:26 AM

I very much respect that you did not bail out on your faITH.

I bailed on Christianity, pompous twit that I am. I realize now that in 'leaving god' I was judging him. I felt he was out of line saying folks who don't have Jesus are doomed. I guess ya'll would deem that out of line too. But, I had not known squat about Islam until 9.11, and it wasn't until I started exploring that, that I became aware of how superior the Judeo-Christian teachings are. I don't know how I came away thinking all Christians loved Jews but it wasn't until recently that I became aware that there are still some Christians who maintain "the Jews killed Christ" mantra. Be that as it may, I have since come to learn that the Jewish race is the first group to ever perceive man as a child of god and an individual and a recipient of free will. So, if i understand this, all of Western civilization has it's root in the Hebrew distinction of man being special. I'm sorry, I shouldn't ponder in your comments. So, to wrap this - is it true that "free will" granted by god originated in Jewish tradition?
And I wonder, if I had not bailed on Christianity if I would have discovered, as you have, the expression of god's love.
But anyway, I'm not much in the character department and character is required to please most Gods and I admire ya'll who achieve it. The Christians have this thing in scripture that says there is one sin against the holy spirit that puts you beyond the pale- past saving. Toast. Kaput. I always fear I did that one sin - whatever it is.
be well dear girl

Posted by: zee at September 26, 2004 05:16 PM

How distressing to read "zee's" fears of God because of the limited knowledge he's recieved of Him.

I am a Christian - I love the Jewish people. It says in the Bible that we Gentiles were drafted in to your heritage through the blood of Jesus. I am thankful for that, and I honor the chosen people of the Lord.

I wonder, too, what your story is, Rachel Ann? I have always had this idea that Jewish people know what the Bible says about Jesus BEING the Messiah, and flat out rejecting that idea. But perhaps some haven't heard this GOOD NEWS? At least, all of it - I just wonder why you don't believe the Moshiach has come. When I read about how you honor the Shabbat, I have to agree that honoring God's laws is very important - all of them. But the fact is, we do mess up, we can't get it right all of the time, and we do disgrace the Holy One of Israel. He knew that and didn't want to be eternally separated from us, so He sent the Moshiach, Jesus Christ, to be the final atonement for our sins. His grace has set us free from the penalty of the law, for Christ's death has fulfilled the law. His life in us, the Holy Spirit, urges us on toward His will, which WILL cover the law...but we have to choose it. We are saved by grace through faith, just as Abraham was saved by faith, not works.

I do love YOU even from afar, and pray for you that your love for God will be far enriched by His love for you.

In His Grip,

Posted by: Kristina at July 22, 2005 10:27 PM

Hi Kristina,

The bible doesn't talk about Jesus being the Messiah, and he isn't accepted as being the Messiah precisely because he did not fulfill the requirements for being the Messiah. There has never been a need for a person to be an atonment.

I think a mistake is made when the sacrifices are spoken of; they were not the atonement for a sin. That had to come first, which meant becoming a differnt person than before and avoiding the same errors that one made from before. Sacrificing an animal alone served no purpose.

Of course we mess up; but G-d is alway there to hear our prayers. He is always with us, ready to forgive us for our sins, both as individuals and as a group. In Judaism action, not belief, is what counts.

Fulfilling the Torah is our duty to G-d and it is not a burden. We can do it. We have no need to have the laws abrogated. Done correctly, and more people do it correctly than you may imagine, the laws are freeing.

The Messiah, when he comes, and he will be a human being and not a supernatural being, will bring in a time of peace, will unite all Jews, and will permanently rebuild the Temple. There are no second chances. The person who does the above and anyone else, no matter how moral, no matter how kind, no matter how adored, is considered the Messiah. It is kind of like the rules for the presidency; you could win the popular vote and lose the election.

In every generation there has been a person who was qualified to become the Messiah. The death of that person meant he wasn't it.

You have stated that you feel that Jesus allowed you to be grafted on to Judaism. I'm not sure what you mean by that, but Judaism has always welcomed the Righteous Gentile. People use to come to the Temple to offer sacrifices, even those who weren't Jewish. There are in fact laws which cover non-Jews and their place in Judaism; people who study and follow these laws for all mankind call themselves B'nai Noach. B'nai Noach is a growing movement and I encourage you to find an Orthdox Rabbi and study up on the subject. I have a friend who works for B'nai Noach and if you (or anyone else)are interested I will put you in touch with herand the group.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at July 23, 2005 09:38 PM
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