I’ve been thinking a lot lately (don’t get nervous, it’s not as dangerous as you might imagine), trying to figure out exactly what I believe in. There was a time when I was firm in my beliefs. When I was in university I did a degree in Jewish Studies. I had some friends who were Baal Teshuvaniks (who became Orthodox on their own). The exposure that I got to Orthodoxy through my friends was enticing, there was a feeling of comfort in the sense of community. But I was only visiting. I happily went along in my Conservative lifestyle. Conservative Judaism was my comfort zone and my belief system.
I can’t really say what happened to change all of that. There’s just been a niggling feeling of skepticism that has been growing over the past couple of years. It seems to me that if God does exist he’s just not that interested in us. As a mother this is hard to swallow. Maybe we are just some sort of disappointing experiment that didn’t turn out as planned. Elie Weisel said (and I’m quoting very loosely) that there were two equally justifiable responses to God during the war, to turn towards him or to turn away from him. I understand this better now.
So my question to myself is, what do I believe in?
I definitely believe in morals, ethics and accountability. Because of this belief I have to believe in Judaism. Fundamentally, to me at least, the Torah is a code of morality. This is a gift to humanity. I however, do not believe in humanity. How can I when history has shown time and again that mankind is so rotten?
I believe in individuals. There have always been truly good people in the world. Humanity has been lucky when these individuals have stepped forward to save us.
I believe in the necessity of everyday niceness and the importance of small acts of kindness. There is a ripple effect out there and you never know how you may touch someone through your actions. Of course I believe in large acts of kindness as well but it can be too easy to give once a year and then to forget about our daily conduct.
At the risk of sounding like a romantic, and believe me I’m no romantic, I believe in love. If we truly love our families how can we not work to improve the world, even in some small way?
I believe in life and in living it fully. What we have is so fleeting there is no time for would have, should have or could have. There is only time for do.
I also believe in growth and evolution. Just as my beliefs have changed from what they were I expect that they will continue to change as I continue to grow as a person. People are complicated, even the best of them, so I am no longer shocked to discover this change in myself. Steadfast belief where it once seemed comforting now seems impossible. My life is a work in progress this is just one more facet of myself that is in flux. Change is not necessarily bad, it is just change.
I hope that I have not offended any of my readers and if you would like to convince me to believe, in a respectful manner, I welcome your thoughts and comments.