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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Faith and Belief

A letter to someone who challenged me on my beliefs and forced me to really own the decision I have made to live a Torah life: Dear M - Since our correspondence last year, I have given a lot of thought to Orthodox Judaism. I will admit, you shook me. But as much as you challenged me to question many things in my life, at the end of it all, I think I have emerged stronger for it. For that, I thank you. You forced me to take an intellectually honest look at what I believe. In all intellectual honesty, I have found no proof, no magic solution. What I did find was faith. I now accept the fact that nothing can be proven absolutely - no side of the argument. So the one that I choose, I do so with faith. A kernel of faith is needed inside every person, in order to make any decision about what they believe - this is true for atheist or monotheist or pantheist. I guess the only person who doesn't need faith is the agnostic, because an agnostic is claiming that they don't know, that they don't choose to follow any one path. Maybe the agnostic path is the one with the least ground to lose, but in my mind, it also leaves so much to be desired. Not believing in anything leaves one wandering, without any direction. I can't fathom that I was put on the earth to do that. I can't live life not believing in a God. I can't accept the fact that it all "might" be random, that there is no purpose. So I have had to choose the best path, the one in which faith and logic collide in the best way I can find. And that path is, for me, Orthodox Judaism. In many ways, because I was born a Jew. Because the more I learn about Torah, the more I see the wisdom and caring behind it. It's not always easy and I don't always manage to live up to the gift I have been given from Hashem. Nor do I live up to the potential I know I have inside me. But I try. I haven't yet given up. I hope I never do. No person can explain everything. I try my hardest to understand as much as I can, and to ask many questions so that everything does make as much sense as it ever will. I have been striving to do what the Torah, and therefore Hashem, wants, rather than all those who scream and yell but have no foundation for their cries. I am working on seeing through the smokescreen of human misunderstanding and overbuilt fences. I am sure I fail, and will fail, many times. But at least I will know I tried. So, I thank you for challenging me to take a good, hard look at what I believe. It wasn't the first time, and I am sure it won't be the last. Each time I do know that I am coming out stronger on the other side. I don't fault you for not believing, for not being able to take that leap of faith. I even respect you for it in some ways. Anyway, I guess the point of this letter is mainly to say, I do believe. And in some ways, that is to your credit, even though I don't think it was your goal. Thank you, Shoshana

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