Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A bit of Judaism

I've been doing a lot of soul searching over the past year and a half, specifically on the topic of Israel and Judaism. The most common question I'm asked here is, "Why did you make Aliyah and decide to join the army?" It's a complicated answer that I'm not even sure I know the complete answer to. One thing I can say for sure is I had a gut feeling about it and that feeling was supported by several indicators that made it seem like a good idea. The most simple, general answer to the question is Zionism. The next level of the answer is that Judaism is important to me and I believe that without Israel, the Jewish homeland, Judaism cannot survive and thrive in a healthy and non-oppressed fashion. The Neturei Karta would have you believe that Judaism had been fine for 2000 years and that the real anti-Semitism started only after the inception of the Jewish State in 1948. They should be called Neturei Charta (Charta = bullshit in Hebrew). My grandparents and their parents and so on could attest to the fact that Judaism in the Diaspora was not treated kindly. So the next question that is more rarely asked is, "If you're making Aliyah because Judaism is important to you, then why do you not keep more religious?" Well, what can I say? I'm a fundamental moderate who believes in not leaning to far to either side. Judaism is important to me for multiple reasons but one thing that has always left me impressed with regards to my religion is the truth and wisdom in the Tanakh (the Torah, Prophets, and Writings).
I was thinking about something the other day and I think I struck a chord with one story. The story about Abraham offering up his son Isaac as a sacrifice often seemed savage and dogmatically blind to me. I think that when you look upon the story as a metaphor then you realize the true significance and depth of the story. What was Isaac to Abraham? He was his flesh and blood, his offspring, his genetic hope and future. So why would God or Judaism ask him to, so cruelly, sever his only line in the gene pool and kill his son? I think the two factors here are symbols. The God character in the story can be looked at more as Jewish morality. Not the Jewish morality that tells you not to put fish and meat on the same plate you eat off of, but rather the deeper stuff. Abraham and Isaac are humanity, the animal kingdom, evolution if you will. Is there a single healthy organism in the entire world that would sanely forfeit its genetic offspring just because? No; but we learn from this story that some things are more important than ourselves. In some areas we must not fall prey to our tendency toward evolution and furthering our link in the genetic pool. Our morals that are sometimes incongruent with evolutionary interests must be upheld despite the sacrifices we have to make to uphold them. That is what makes mankind different than other animals, whether it be God-given or an acquired evolutionary trait. That is what makes Judaism important to me.

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