Why Investigate Judaism First

Five reasons to explore Judaism before examining other religions.

Comments (8)

(8) Anonymous, August 10, 2008 7:15 AM

re: re: monotheism vs. hostility

While I agree with most of your points, Orthodox Jews are not the only ones who believe in and practise Judaism. Many, many years ago at Camp Hertzl, when I was 10, there was a particular Shabbat activity/discussion, where we were given a fictitious scenario of someone dying and leaving all his assets to whichever one of his children is the "best Jew", or to some charity if it could not be decided. The personalities of the children included someone who was very pro-Israel but not religious, someone who always went to shul but didn't help out his neighbours, someone who didn't go to shul but performed many acts of gimilut hasadim, someone who went to shul and gave time but cheated at business, and several others (including some without any such obvious deliminations). This was an all day activity, split up into small groups for discussion, everyone in the aidah. And you know what, every single group arrived at the same conclusion: it's not possible to determine who is the "best Jew". Every. Single. Group. A very, very Reform member of my family risked his life to smuggle Torahs out of a country where the Jewish population was being persecuted and dying off, at the community's request. I generally identify with the Traditional/Conservative movements. My girlfriend is in the process of an Orthodox conversion. We are all Jews, regardless of level of observance. Especially now, on Tisha B'av, why are we judging each other?

(7) don muntean, August 4, 2008 5:00 AM

i'm on the path

Great video - myself I found other faiths and in the end - Judaism found me! I must have a Jewish soul! It's an interesting thing how it occurred but it did. I was raised a catholic [and thought I knew the so-called old testament] and I later 'converted' to hare krishna - now I'm learning Torah etc., and I want one day to reunite my Jewish soul with its people! I know that it's a tremendous responsibility to join G-d's people and one day when I'm ready I hope I can.

G-d bless Ha AISH Torah!

(6) Anonymous, June 30, 2008 8:53 PM

RE: monotheism vs. hostility

Lewis, I think you are missing a few points.

"Judaism must define what Judaism and Jews are outside the absurd idea one has to just have a Jewish mother."
Judaism defines itself as a belief in one G-d who created this world and gave us a set of rules to help us to become close to Him. G-d has given us free choice to believe in Him and follow His commandmants, or to not believe in Him or His word. Therefore, anyone who was born to a Jewish mother is Jewish whether or not they choose to believe in Judaism. Basically Judaism as a religion is not defined by lineage. A non-Jewish person is free to convert to Judaism if they so desire. Incidentally, it is rather offensive to refer to a Jewish law as "absurd." Just because you do not understand something does not make it "absurd."

"Judaism must begin a real outreach to non-Jews"
Judaism is not looking for more members. We do accept sincere converts, however, we are not out to convert people. A person who is searching for the truth will find it. We don't need to chase them. Additionally, if a non-Jew is interested in finding out about our religion, it is very easy for him/her to do so. There are many resources available, and most Jewish people who I know are very open to honest discussions.

"In other words Judaism must separate itself from the left and stop being another form of modern liberalism, at least here in America."
With all due respect, it sounds as if you have not met many Orthodox Jewish people. I think you will agree that it is not fair to make judgements on a religion based on that religion's non-observant members. I would agree with you that many non-religous Jews are modern liberalist, however, this has nothing to do with Judaism. My advice to you, if you are looking for the truth? Talk to the people who actually believe in and observe Judasim -- Orthodox Jews.

(5) sharona, June 30, 2008 2:02 PM

Great message, when a Jew is searching for spirituality, s/he should look into their own heritage and study it, to help feed their soul and come close to Hashem.

As for non-Jews, if they are interested to learn about it, that's good. But if they're thinking about being Jewish, they should be aware that it's a big responsibility. - If they are not sure whether they can handle this responsibility, then they should be aware that they can be a noahide instead, who follows the 7 universal laws :)
Of course, if they are sure they can do it, then they should go ahead.

(4) Robert, June 29, 2008 4:40 PM

Other reasons

The Rabbi makes good points, but there are others:

1/ Judaism is the only religion based on national revelation (ie. Sinai). It's an incredible thing that the Torah says no one will ever make a claim like that again, and after 3,300 years, no one has.

2/ If you take a look at Jewish history, there is no argument, logical or rational, which explains the existence of the Jewish people. But the Jewish Bible says we'll be around forever. But logic would never have guessed that.

3/ Rabbi Becher mentioned it, but there are many religions which believe in the Torah, not just the 3 he mentioned. The only thing they all agree on is the Torah.

4/ Compare Judaism to its biggest successor, Christianity. See how those claims are inconsistent with the Torah, thus disqualifying it from the list.

Think about it...most people never do!

(3) Lewis Loflin, June 29, 2008 11:03 AM

monotheism versus hostility

Rabbi Becher makes many valid points, but is this aimed at simply keeping Jews within Judaism or drawing non-Jews into it? I'd say the former. It's sad both Muslims and Christians have displayed such hatred of a religion they in reality hijacked.

As an American and a rational monotheist (with no desire to convert to Judaism or discourage Jews leaving it) I believe Judaism has a problem in its isolation from the general public. That causes a lot of problems because non-Jews (and I'd include some secular Jews as well) don't understand Judaism. Christians where I live for example see Judaism in the Old Testament (Torah) filtered/distorted through New Testament Gnosticism and often hate. They substitute themselves and see anyone that disagrees as Caanites to be killed.

The other problem are so many leftist Jews (many atheist) on the far left in the end get all Jews branded as Marxist.

Jews are getting stuck with political labels that I believe hurts the faith.

There's too many Jewish names at so-called civil rights groups that function as far-left political machines.

Like it or not there can be 100 Marxists in a room, but people home in on a single Jewish name in the crowd. Polls show 6 out of ten Jews don't really believe in G-d today.

With due respect I don't consider an atheist born of two Jewish parents a Jew.

So here are my points:

Judaism must define what Judaism and Jews are outside the absurd idea one has to just have a Jewish mother.

Jews must separate themselves as a religion (at least in public perception) from the radical politics many Jews get involved with. They seem to substitute this for a faith they have rejected or at best have reduced to a vague culture.

Judaism must begin a real outreach to non-Jews, not just this liberal relativism that says all religions are OK. That might mean a lot less political correctness. In other words stand up for Judaism.

In other words Judaism must separate itself from the left and stop being another form of modern liberalism, at least here in America.

I hope I didn't offend anyone.

(2) levinika, June 29, 2008 10:35 AM

Excellent everyone needs listen to this.

(1) Nikki Keus, June 29, 2008 10:01 AM

Thank you....this is what I need.

Dear Rabbi,
Thank you so much for giving the five reasons to study judaism. Many years I've found myself looking in all different areas of religion...and came up emptyhanded. Now being just two night away from speaking with a Rabbi about the way I believe, about the way Hasjeem just wouldn't let go, this really came as the one thing I needed to be even more sure. I do know that if the spark (nesjomme) is there than all will be fine in the end. Thank you again. Shalom, Nikki.


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