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Thought for the Day: Being Jewish is a Reality, Not a Philosophy

I know you will find this shocking, but I often get accused of being too blunt.  Ok, maybe shocking is not the right word; how about: Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Still, I don't think that what I say should be so contentious or shocking.  In particular, I get a particularly strong negative reaction to my comments regarding non-Torah religions that brand themselves with the adjective "jewish".  I think after spending a couple of days in San Francisco, however, I have a better feel for the source of their animosity.

To whit: the American/Western outlook is that religion is a bunch of rules based on tried and true traditions and reactions to life situations.  Religions that have been around for a while have the advantage of weathering many different situations and challenges, therefore even their bits that have no apparent logic are worth following because they have a history and it's at least comforting to have family and national traditions.  Of course, if that is the case, I have no business being so negative about other religions and philosophies.  According to that point of view, every religion has some value and also has lots of stuff that may or may not be right for an individual.  You do your thing and I'll do mine.

That point of view is wrong when it comes to the Torah.  I am no more embarrassed or shy about saying that than I would be embarrassed or shy to say that pyramid or crystal "power" is a bunch of hooey.  If you want to live a long, healthy life, you better pay attention to medical and nutritional counsel.  We don't take antibiotics for infections because its a nice tradition, and we don't keep Torah and mitzvos because its a nice tradition.  We take antibiotics for infections because infections are real and antibiotics really kill them.  We keep Torah and mitzvos because our souls are real and a Jew's soul can only be nourished by Torah and mitzvos.  Witch doctors whatnot who claim to be able to cure cancer by shaking their rattles and mumbling arcane phrases are bad.  People who call themselves doctors with degrees from institutions that they created themselves and amid strident disapproval of the medical establishment are evil.  Priests and preachers are bad, people who make up their own rules but call themselves "rabbis" are ....

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