Reformed Jew or gentile in trappings? I was recently asked by a gentile (non-Jew) “why can’t all of us (he meant orthodox Jews) just accept these other Jews and their desire to pray at the Kotel, whichever way they want?”…
On the face of it, the question posed is fair and is hard to argue with, because it promotes unity and solidifies a core of any religious aspiration. It is also a question which is hard to answer to a non-Jew because a certain degree of sensitivity needs to be applied, so I did my best in the circumstance and won’t bore you with my reply here, however, it got me to thinking how I would answer a non-practicing or someone who associates themselves with the Reform movement.
I think we need to remember what happened approximately 2000 years ago when some of the cosmopolitan and liberal Jews of the time decided it would be a great idea to welcome new members to gain influence in Rome… Christianity was born.
The Orthodox movement rejected such overtures and did not welcome them into the mainstream, and that is why we have traditional and authentic Judaism today, as well as the centuries of persecutions at the hands of these estranged wannabes. The Reform movement whilst noble in its fundamental ideal of being inclusive, relevant to the times and making it accessible to the wider world in an attempt to break down the historical prejudices against Jews, is, unfortunately, a slippery slope to the complete abandonment of Judaism. Ask yourselves a simple question, what would you call a third generation (I believe I’m being generous here) reform Jew?
I believe if you are honest the answer would be a non-Jew. If the reform movement was an outreach program, which drew disenfranchised and assimilated Jews out into the mainstream Orthodox path, then it would be a movement that most Orthodox Rabbis would endorse. Unfortunately, the Reform movement doesn’t have such aspirations and in many instances, holds their interpretation as the benchmark rather than the compromise that it is.
In this way, it becomes more fundamentally problematic than other religions for the Orthodox world, because the orthodox youth has the perception that these are Jews that live a different life as opposed to gentiles having a different religion. For the record, I’m not some Haredi that sets stones aside for Shabbos altercations, in fact, I come from a family that would insist to go once yearly to an Orthodox shul, for Yom Kippur.
Every decision which we make revolves around our balance.
The balance between;
- what we need and want,
- who we are and want to be,
- who we impact and who we don’t,
- what we desire and repel,
- whom we love and whom we can’t.
The scary thing is that this balance is inherent and requires little or no effort for most.
We need to stop and consider each aspect of our balance.
We need to analyse why we feel the way we do as much as question the reason behind those feelings.
To be truly honest/loyal, especially with oneself, one needs to question and not be honest/loyal for the sake of it, because ultimately this is the greatest dishonesty/disloyalty.
The modern office often promotes an open planned environment for a higher level of accountability and productivity. But what it also achieves, is a beehive of politics and competition.
The main interchange is kudos. The sense of respect and overwhelming adoration that most humans crave. A mixture of egos and agenda are thrown together into this slow cooker and over a long enough timeline, varying results are observed.
One potentiality is that, this insular society blossoms into a self-fulfilling and sustaining entity, where juniors are mentored by their seniors. Their instructions are greedily accepted, based on the kudos that they command.
Any such incubatory environments are at constant risk of self-implosion when the elusive element of kudos is lacking.
Such contemplation provides our curious visitor, an entertaining pastime while waiting at reception to meet the owner of this enterprise.
When the sun comes out from beneath the heavy clouds and reflects the earlier precipitation, I think of rebirth and the many varied possibilities that the universe is presenting to us.
We can choose to see it as such and make use of the faculties and abilities which we have been blessed with, or just walk by in our well-practised insomniac blundering.
This is a simple concept to philosophise about, but so difficult to remember, whilst living…
A sound bite is an interesting concept, readily used by broadcasting types to describe a snapshot of content with the highlights or poignant fact.
This is obviously not a modern concept.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens had a very similar concept “a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense” which he published at the beginning of last century.
It seems strange and unnatural, that life is at times lived in sound bites.
The romantic in us wants to think that they are living (in reality this is only what we aspire to), what we are really doing is plodding along hoping for the highlights and dreading the inevitable lows.
Many years from now, we won’t necessarily remember a gorgeous sunrise or the morning greeting of a loved one. We won’t remember the day we spurned a lover and the look in their eyes.
We may remember an instant of our child’s birth or their first conscious kiss, but mainly these details escape us daily.
We struggle to remember, citing as irrelevant, the constant varying events of our lives which cumulatively form us as we travel, the mundane, the obscure and the truly hard.
These formative experiences do not make it past the cutting floor, they are faded out into oblivion.
So when we review the slide show of our lives we see selective sound bites which often distort the truth into a fanciful HD presentation of the person we would like others to have known. #markbaranov
Love and in-love are two separate yet intertwined precepts.
Being in love is a vapour, an almost spiritual experience which cannot be grasped or quantified and yet it’s presence or lack of, is amply felt.
Love, on the other hand, is a tangible thing, almost solid, it’s represented as building blocks allowing individuals to grow their bond with definitive thoughts, words and actions promoting an ever changing level.
We know that being in-love leads to love, but we must always remember that in order for love to continue to grow, it needs to promote the state of being in-love as well. Both elements are forever intertwined and required in order to attain and maintain this essence of creation. #markbaranov
The printed word is hardly ever the definitive truth. At best it’s the writers take on a subject but commonly it’s the writers desire to be published, despite the collateral damage caused by their words.
When a reader aligns with that word without understanding the motivation of the writer, he/she becomes an unsuspecting collaborator and propagator of their motivation. After all you must “Never let the truth spoil a good story” – #markbaranov
The Oxford dictionary has just recorded the word of the year 2016, to our vocabulary; “Post-Truth”
Defining it as;-relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
Without diving in and trying to do mental contortions to understand the subtlety of the political innuendo in this definition, i cannot help but to reject it out of hand.
Truth is truth. Pre, during or post. It is constant, it is indivisible and eternal. Any suggestion that truth is meaniable or is open to subjectivity denies its existence.
Perhaps the chaps at Oxford should consult another word in their dictionary, Oxymoron.
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the person who carried us in her womb and gave birth to us. That in itself would have been enough for a lifetime of thanks. But a mother is defined not by the birth which is finite but by the love, care, sacrifice and devotion that she shows for the rest of her life. That’s the real definition of a true mother.
Forgiveness is a state of being, achieved by one who can now, allow the forgiven to return back to relationship equilibrium.
The affected party needs introspection to determine the residual effects and negate them, by either re-calibrating their exacting levels of expectation and accept the forgiven for who they are, or come to the realisation that the root cause of the offence is a heightened level of ego within themselves which needs to find hubris.
In either circumstance, true forgiveness can only be achieved when, without altering the state of love towards them, you are able to reset to, exactly where you were prior to the incident.
Ancient history is tantamount to an autopsy.
Separation is a word which conjures a breakdown of union, a discontinuance of establishment or hermitism.
The polar opposite meaning is achieved when separation from; the mundane, the harmful, the illicit or the forbidden becomes a human aspiration.
Then it becomes the tool for refocusing priorities, soul cleansing, an admission of moral values and a declaration of love for all that is HIM.
We grow up hearing our parents and teachers giving us directives about how we should behave, yet we rarely internalize and accept those directives unless they are also enacted by those same authorities. ‘Lead by example’ is the moto of the achievers guild. When we see, others do, then we believe.
But what about words which contradict actions. Are they valid and worthwhile? Most would hastily negate their value or at the very least reduce their significance.
This is a well documented and argued phenomena, however, what of the reverse?
When the actions personify love yet the words mar the bliss. On the balance you would have to agree that words are merely a precursor and actions are the essence.
Logic dictates that this is so, yet an ill spoken word can pierce the heart and calcify it.
A lesson learnt by your fellow traveller, is that both, touching words of the most eloquent prose or vile and abhorent utterances are naught in comparison to humane and loving interaction.
Love and in love are two separate yet intertwined precepts.
Being in love is a vapor, an almost spiritual experience which cannot be grasped or quantified and yet it’s prensence or lack off is amply felt.
Love on the other hand is a tangible thing, almost solid, where there exist building blocks allowing individuals to grow their bond with definitive words and actions promoting an ever changing level.
We know that being in love leads to love, but we must always remember that in order for love to continue to grow, it should promote the state of being in love as well. Both elements are forever intertwined and required in order to attain and maintain this essence of creation.
‘Taking the plunge’, is an admission of defeat. It means you lack the common sense and medative reasoning to come to a desision and with lack of clarity decide to do it anyway.
Is there any wonder then, that the expression is oft used to describe nuptials and the outcome is all too commonly, disastrous.
Before a queen is crowned, she is a princess. Some princesses are given the green light and proceed without merit or support, as bystanders shrug their shoulders in resignation.
The true princess does not need worldly trappings or lineage, because her attributes and qualities are plain to see. She glides through life affecting many with her joy and tenderness, whilst all the while staying true to the only directive from above, loving her fellow man.
The state of nostalgia, lost life or just loneliness?
Watching an old movie or hearing a song which one associates with better times, leads you to consider present life and current challenges.
A yearning for a sweeter or easier life, is a fanciful preoccupation of those that are predisposed to melancholy and defeatism.
The cure for this condition is to achieve a present reality which makes the old, pale in significance.
Another turn along my path. No crossroads here, no contemplative decisions which need be made, just life.
When does the throat relax and lungs allow a full measure. When will the daily glimpses of happiness, yield fruit of reflective satisfaction.
Most mornings in that transitional state between the pillow daemons and impending anxiety of the day ahead, you smile and think, twas only a dream before and I can make my own plans for this day, devoid of mental anguish and full of brilliance.
As you get out of the comfortable folds and take the first few steps, life takes over and you remember the foreshadowed promise of anxiety and realize that your self diagnosed depression is a self fullfilling prophecy.
So being the rational being that you are, you try and break it down. What does one need to be truly happy and devoid of perpetual angst. You soon realize, however, that if only you knew the answer to the question…
Ok, so let’s check off the things we ‘have’ and attempt to find the gaps…
Good health, check.
Loving and caring family, check.
Great loyal friends, check.
Job satisfaction, check.
Reasonable means, check.
Reasonable intellect, check.
Cultural sense of identity, check.
Religious sense of belonging, check.
Healthy appetite for knowledge, check.
As soon as you start this list, you know where the gap is, but you follow through until you run out of the obvious.
It’s so blatantly obvious and you knew it from the start, but what to do about it?
So knowledge becomes your tormentor, you apply yourself to the task at hand by maximizing your exposure and opening the gates of opportunity. There, they’re open. Now what?
It’s not a task that one can unilaterally succeed in. It requires a minimum of two and then is only possible with the satisfaction of mutual, preconceived ideals. This seems a statistical improbability, coupled with the added complications of unknown variables that form each individual.
Faced with the mammoth task of sifting through the unending trove of potential partners, trying to facilitate all your preconceived ideals, it dawns that all you need is to reduce the pool where only candidates who match your list of ‘haves’ above and let nature take care of the rest.
Humanity understandably, is more involved in the physical rather than subliminal pursuits. We busy ourselves with the mundane to avoid the responsibility of spirituality and soul nourishment.
We forget that we must be true to ourselves and to our fellow man, to understand and then admit that we are ultimately dependents, for all the days of our lives.
It seems a bitter pill to swallow for most, so it’s set aside for retirement. After all we are all powerful and have no need for such frailty now…