Old Jewish Saying

A rabbi teaches his students “we can learn valuable lessons from everything God puts on this earth.”  One student challenges the rabbi:  “What can we learn from atheism?”

The rabbi replies:  “We can learn a great deal from atheism.  When you see your brother or sister in trouble, do not say ‘God will take care of you.’  Act as if there is no God and everything is in your hands; you respond to the person who needs help.”

Busy Shabbat

Well, Shabbat is over, but I had a great time. Of course, I went to my own synagogue, but then, I went to the Conservative synagogue down the street for the first time. Things are a little different there, but it’s remarkable how similar they are. I could actually follow along in their service (which was completely Hebrew) because I’ve spent over a year going to my own synagogue.

Another pleasant thing is that I got counted for the minyan. 10 Jews make up a minyan and then the Torah can be taken out and read from. I had heard that they’d accept my conversion as authentic, but seeing it in action was very pleasing. It was also very nice of them to tell me that they were counting me in the minyan.

I had a chance to stay for a Debbie Friedman benefit concert, but I’d already spent 8 hours in Birmingham, so I decided to go home instead. It was such a beautiful day, though.

My Daily Life

Every day, I try to listen to Jewish podcasts while driving at work. It’s actually harder than it sounds. After a while, you start running out of podcasts. So, I listen to whatever college lectures I can find on Itunes U and hope my podcasts release new stuff before I run out.

Having a conversation with a Thelemite on here makes me realize how much I’ve changed since those days. It was great fun talking back and forth, but I realized how much my interests and outlook have changed since then. It’s really one of those things that creep up on you. First, you stop reading the literature. Next, you sell all your books. Then, one day, you’re like “Wow…so this is me”.

Case in point: When I first came into contact with Judaism, I was blown away by interpretations of the Torah that, as a Gentile, I had no idea even existed. But, the common ground I had with Judaism was my own personal philosophy and Kabbalah. But, the fascination with the Bible and its interpretation slowly began to enhance my own personal philosophy and crowd out the mysticism. To be sure, I’m still interested in Kabbalah, but not nearly as much as I’m interested in learning ALL the Jewish interpretations of the Bible.

So, the main podcasts I listen to these days are actually aish.com‘s Adventures in Urban Judaism and OurJewishCommunity.org‘s Rabbi Robert Barr. They’re actually on opposite ends of the spectrum and that’s something I enjoy immensely. The Aish Center is an Orthodox Jewish community and its podcast deals with traditional Kabbalistic and Orthodox Jewish interpretation. Our Jewish Community is a Humanistic Jewish podcast and its podcasts deal with Jewish ethics and ideas from a modern perspective.

Of course, my own philosophy lies somewhere in between. I feel some ties to tradition, but at the same time, acknowledge that I live in the modern world. So, I’m not turning my lights off for Shabbat, but neither am I getting in some extra time at work. My goal, of course, is to be the best Jew I can be and follow the commandments as I think they apply today and in my life.

I actually think Reform Judaism, along with Conservative Judaism, are the hardest movements in Judaism to belong to today. You can’t disregard the Bible and its teachings. You have to follow the Bible. You have to adapt it to modern life and follow it. Disregarding a commandment because it makes life easier is NOT Reform Judaism. Conscientiously choosing your path and reasoning through the commandments is.

So, today I stand a relatively new Jew on a journey that will fill the rest of my life.

 

Ethics and culture….

…and the college instructor has responded!

Now, as you very well know, I left Thelema some time ago. I left Thelemic practices behind even longer ago! As I told you earlier, I discovered my last lodge closed in 1998! But, I paid my dues! I paid my dues! lol

But, of course, I did read and study… and, since I’ve been involved with Judaism over a year, I’ve read and studied quite a bit in Judaism (We’ve talked about this amongst ourselves, but here is a link that states it.. If you search down my old videos on magick or remember them, and how I said magick was to get closer to God…. and the fact I haven’t regularly performed ‘magickal practices’ since 1998, but studied… you’ll see how, once again, it proves the point that I was ‘thinking like a Jew’….since most Jewish Kabbalists today are theoretical Kabbalists) So, let’s tackle this:

As you know, my pet peeve when I was a Thelemite was morality. That was what the whole Modern Gnosis idea was about: promoting morality, reasonable interpretations instead of literal ones, etc. Of course, the way I was interpreting things turned out to be Jewish… and, the point you’re making here is too! Click Here for an aish.com podcast

Now, a cookie for you if you were already interpreting part of the Book of the Law that way anyway:

I:29 For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.
I:30 This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

Ah yes, the Book of the Law…. how can we make a short little book, extremely concise, extremely cryptic…make it say some very profound things about Kabbalah, etc…. but yet make a literal reading of it absolutely horrid? Ah yes….here we go! (more…)

Morals

I was talking to a college instructor I’m friends with online. I gave my view and you may or may not agree, but I’ll put it out there: Thelema and all of Freemasonry (not a religion, but it fits with this scenario), Atheism (absence of religion, but bare with me) and Paganism all need something: a religion to inspire morality. Now, bare with me here….

Thelema/all of Freemasonry – you interpret for yourself. They are designed to inspire you to become a better person….but who decides what better is? Now, most Freemasons are honest and say “This isn’t a religion. It’s not meant to take the place of your religion. Go to church.” As a matter of fact, most Freemasonry encourages people to attend the religious services of their chosen religion.  (more…)