on Friday, 01 May 2015.
Posted in Rabbi's Blog
These days, wherever we turn, we are bombarded with someone else’s truth—be it political, ethical or religious. For the fundamentalists of every stripe, there is no other truth but theirs. Such thinking is divisive and destructive, leaving us with a fractured world and a fractured God.
Jeff Alltime, in discussing, “The Idea of Religious ‘Truth’ and Its Spiritual Merits,” defines truth as, “that which is considered to be the supreme reality and [which reflects the] ultimate meaning and value of existence.” He suggests that the premise of this definition of truth is to give meaning to one’s life.
Evidence abounds that people are searching for meaning, though in many cases they are looking outside the bounds of “traditional” religious practices and institutions. They are embracing mindfulness practices which help open their hearts to love, compassion, kindness and peace.
The Hebrew word for truth is Emet: alef-mem-tav. Truth/Emet begins with alef, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; mem is the middle letter; and tav is the last letter. This leaves space for more than one truth, and invites us to explore what is true for us in a context that includes other seekers—even if we do not share precisely the same beliefs and practices.
Imagine the results if more people accepted their religion as the best faith for them, but at the same time recognized that there are other religions which teach about other deities, other systems of morality, other religious practices, etc. Yet almost all of them motivate people to lead better lives. There might be fewer people willing to defend their particular religion by oppressing or killing followers of other religions and spiritual paths. (www.religioustolerance.org/reltrue.htm)
With the approach of the Festival of Shavuot, when the Israelites experience the revelation of Torah at Sinai, we are reminded that even within the Jewish world there are many truths held about revelation.
So, who is an authentic Jew? Is authenticity defined by matrilineal or patrilineal descent, choice, belief or practice? Why do so many struggle to accept that many atheists, agnostics, humanists, religious naturalists, Bu-Jews and the like still identify as Jews? These are but some of the many questions our confirmands have begun to discuss. May their searching, and ours, continue for a lifetime!
Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi
Congregation Or Shalom21 Hawthorn ParkwayVernon Hills, IL 60061
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