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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Humanistic Judaism

Protocols has been inviting a series of guest bloggers to post their thoughts for the past few weeks (some have been better than others, but that is a different story). The current guest, Daniel Radosh defines himself as a Humanistic Jew. I don't know very much about Humanistic Judaism, and I am not endorsing it, but I thought that something Radosh said was interesting. He wrote: "God does not care what we think about him, he cares how we treat each other." I am not sure how I feel about that. I think treating others with respect should be a high priority, and unfortunately, I believe that it is one that often gets hidden behind concern about bugs in water or particular forms of dress. I wonder, however, if the second half of Radosh's statement is viable without some kind of belief in Hashem. If we show a blatant disregard for the laws Hashem gives us, many of which correspond directly to how we relate to others, then what gives us a basis for treating others well? Radosh also writes about building bridges between the various denominations of Judaism. I would love to see this also, I have always felt that strengthening our Ahavas Yisrael is the best way to encourage more Jews to love Torah. Though, again I do not propose to know the best way to balance between being accepting of all Jews and telling those Jews that it is okay to not follow Hashem's laws. I was once asked what would change in my life if it was proven that there is no G-d. Would I act differently or live my differently, and in what ways? My quick answer was that it would change a lot - how I dress, what I eat. But beyond that, I am not sure that the way I treat others would change tremendously if there was so G-d, or halacha. I think this is the point of humanistic Judaism, though I am not exactly sure why they choose to emphasize the Jewish part, if they don't accept Hashem. I hope that my actions towards others would be just as kind, and compassionate as they are now if there was no G-d. But I have to admit that I like having the backing of halacha, and Hashem, behind me to confirm that I am acting correctly. And whether Hashem cares what we think of Him or not, treating others well as being a part of serving Hashem, makes sense to me.

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