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Rigid Atheists, Flexible Orthodox Jews
  Where did you get your ideas about Judaism from? Some temple in Canarsie when you were a teenager? When I became friendly with Orthodox Jews in my twenties and thirties I learned that they were much less rigid than most people.

There was a great quote I heard from the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe. A young secular Jew approached him at an audience and said, "Rabbi you tell me there are 613 mitzvahs. How can I possibly be expected to do so many things everyday?" The Rebbe smiled with a wise twinkle in his eye and said, "Let me tell you a secret. Even I do not do every mitzvah every day ... but I try."

It also says in the Talmud, "You are not required to finish the job, but neither are you released from it."

So the point is, if you think that it will benefit your life to do some mitzvahs, then do what you can. In fact the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe used to say, "Pick a Mitzvah". I liked that idea so much I made it one of the chapter titles in my book. He used to say that if you pick just ONE mitzvah, and really do it, and be consistent, that one act may have a profound affect on your life.

Years ago I decided to light a Shabbos candle every Friday night. But I didn't just light it. I got into it. I would calm my mind ... meditate. Then I would light the candle, cover my eyes, say the prayer, and slowly open my eyes. When I saw the light dancing on its wick I would feel a sense of joy and release. That one act started to show me that there was a beauty and peacefulness in Judaism that I never knew existed. Whether or not God existed, or whether or not the Bible was true, didn't matter at that moment. What mattered was what doing this act did to my life. It helped me end the week with peace and helped me prepare for a day of rest without guilt and many of my worldly pressures. I would walk away from that candle renewed and feeling a type of high, a spiritual high.

Judaism, unlike most forms of Christianity and Islam, does not require a belief in God. What it requires is good deeds and an attempt to incorporate mitzvahs into your life. But no one is standing there with a scoreboard. It is not like a franchise. You don't get kicked out, you don't get fired. Rather than have a negative approach, the Lubavitchers taught me that what was important was the benefits of what mitzvahs did for ME. Many people, including disaffected Jews, don't realize that Judaism can add meaning, connection, peaceful feelings, and joy to your life. It can reduce stress and improve your mental health. It can be a rock amid the storms of life.

So the bottom line is this: You physically grew up, but it's time to let your ideas about religion grow up.
  Author: Von Cello
Eintrag from 14.01.2009
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