Imagine No Religion

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Question:
I don’t want my children to be narrow-minded and look down at others, so I haven’t given them a Jewish education. They have been brought up without any religion; they are free to choose whatever beliefs they like. I try to live by the words of John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for / No religion too, Imagine all the people / living life in peace…

Doesn’t that sum it all up?

Answer:

I admire your passion and idealism. You have obviously given some thought to your children’s moral future, which is a credit to you. But I don’t see how the philosophy you have espoused is any less closed-minded than fundamentalist religion.

You don’t want to force your ideals on your children. But by denying them their spiritual heritage, you are doing just that. They are missing the chance to explore their Jewish identities during their formative years. They didn’t choose that, you did. You have decided their religion for them.

And if that song is your bible, then they are being brought up in a much more closed-minded religion than Judaism.

You have only quoted one verse. But I think the last verse of the song is the most revealing:
You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will live as one.

So, according to Lennonism there is “you” and there is “us”. You are the unenlightened ones. We have found the truth. But hopefully one day you will see the light and become one of us too. Only then can the world finally live as one. Is that open-minded?

Contrast this with Judaism’s view that not everyone has to be Jewish. A non-Jew can live a perfectly fulfilling and meaningful life while remaining a non-Jew. They don’t have to join us to be considered a good person. If anything can make us truly live as one, it is the recognition that we are all created by the same G-d, but we don’t all have to serve Him in the same way.

Much of what is presented today as open-minded secularism is as narrow and self-righteous as the most fundamentalist sect.

Imagine a religion that teaches its children to be proud of who they are, but that not everyone has to be like them. Can you think of a religion like that?

by Menachem Bluming, Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org

Second Day Yom Tov Jewish Holiday- Why on earth?!

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Question: Why do we still keep two days of Yomtov outside of Israel? I know the history: in ancient times people didn’t have calendars on their phones, because the calendar was not set in advance, but rather month by month. When witnesses saw the new moon they reported it to the rabbis in the Temple, and the rabbis would declare that a new month had begun. It would take a couple of weeks for the message to reach outlying communities, so they could never be sure of the correct date to celebrate the festivals. So the diaspora communities kept two days to be on the safe side.

That made sense back then, but for heavens sake, we have calendars today! Why do we still keep two days in the diaspora for every festival that is one day in Israel?

For me, this is one of the most ridiculous laws. It’s like the World Jewish Council of Rabbis can’t be bothered to overturn it or discuss it. Or perhaps they fear a backlash from Jewish bakers, butchers and grocers around the world who like having more Jewish festivals with more meals….

Can’t we update this one already?

Answer:

I remember I had a teacher who had little patience. If a student missed out on what he said, he got furious and thundered, “Why can’t you listen the first time? I will not repeat myself.”

This is not fair. Not everyone can grasp an idea all at once. There are some gifted individuals who are sharp enough to get it the first time. But many of us need to hear something twice before it sinks in. a good teacher should no this.

G-d is the greatest teacher, and time itself is His classroom. Every festival in the Jewish calendar is like a lesson G-d teaches to the world. On Pesach we learn about freedom, and G-d beams a light of freedom into the world. On Sukkos we study the meaning of true happiness, and G-d sends the gift of joy into our hearts. Each festival and its observances are the way we receive the lesson, the light and wisdom of the day.

When you live in the Holy Land, its very air makes you wise, it opens you up to spiritual wisdom. Like a gifted student, you get the lesson the first time. You need only celebrate one day of each festival, and its message hits home straight away.

In the diaspora, we just don’t get it so fast. We need more time for the lesson to sink in, as the air here is not as spiritually refined as Israel air. And so we are given a second day, another chance to fully absorb the power of the festival and for the message to hit home.

Our sages prophesied that one day in the future, the holiness of Israel will cover the entire earth, and then we will all get it the first time. Until then, we in the diaspora can enjoy the extended holiness of an extra day.

Make sense? If not I am happy to repeat it… 🙂

Source:Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi, Admur Hazaken, Likkutei Torah Shmini Atzeres 92c
Menachem Mendel Bluming, Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org

Apples in Honey- Why?

What’s the message in apples dipped in honey traditionally shared on Rosh Hashanah?

Apples rot quickly; here today gone tomorrow. Honey never goes bad. Dip your fleeting life in everlasting values and make it eternal!

Shanah tovah! Rabbi Menachem Mendel Bluming and Chabad.org