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Despite what many people assume, Judaism is a very diverse system of tradition, ethics, legal rulings, religion, philosophy, culture and more. We do not so much focus on what one believes as on what one does with what one believes. Our emphasis is more on blessing to the world (tikkun olam) than on embracing an established philosophical construct of pre-defined beliefs and creeds (although they certainly exist!). Despite this wonderful diversity, HaShem is One and Judaism best reflects this oneness when it too is One. For this reason I dislike the existence of movements and sects. Being Jewish should be enough!
"Since there are enough people practicing rejection, I prefer to fill the role of one who embraces"
-- Rav Kook, first modern Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.Judaism encompasses a broad spectrum of Divine Light.
Jewish history and experience teach us that balance and discernment are required if we are to continue into the future and eventually welcome HaMashiach (the Messiah), may he come soon! We need to be strong and observant, yet flexible enough to exist within our various cultures. May HaShem grant us all religious and political leadership that is rich in emunah (active faith and trust) and Torah knowledge that leads to ever greater devekut (attachment to HaShem).
There's an old story about Reb Zusya the Tzadik that we can all learn from:Lying on his death bed, Reb Zusya was very upset and crying, tears streaming down his face.And we have this from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov:
His students asked with great concern, "Reb Zusya, why are you upset? Why are you crying? Are you afraid that when you die you will be asked why you were not more like Moshe Rabbeinu?"
Reb Zusya replied, "I am not afraid that the Holy One will ask me "Zusya, why were you not more like Moshe Rabbeinu" No, I fear that the Holy One will say, "Zusya, why were you not more like Zusya?"The essence of Judaism is to conduct oneself in pure innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever. Make sure that whatever you do, G-d is there. Don't heed your own honor. If it enhances G-d's glory, do it. If not, then don't. This way, you can be certain you will never stumble. Be careful to act with true innocence and simplicity, but not foolishly. Sophistication, however, is quite unnecessary. Simplicity, innocence, and faith can bring you to the highest level of joy (Likutey Moharan II, 12).Who is a Jew?:For Chassids, Simplicity Is Divine:
Either a person is Jewish or he/she is not. Who is and is not Jewish is clear in our Scriptures. Despite this, some people claim to be Jews who are not, and some Jews reject people who are Jewish. This is sad but true.
Jewishness is determined in traditional ways:
If ones birth mother is halachically Jewish (i.e. according to Jewish Law) one is Jewish (Jewish males are required to be circumsized on the 8th day). If one has halachically converted to Judaism in terms of the Shulcan Aruch (Code of Jewsih Law) one is fully Jewish. If neither is the case, then one is not a Jew. Being Jewish is not dependant on beliefs, dress, etc.Some Jews like labels and defined categories while others do not. Some want the security of strictly defined rules, while others prefer to explore the limits of personal expression, spirituality, and self discovery. Within Judaism there is great diversity. We are an ancient people, an extended family, and still existing civilization that this world has never managed to conquer nor destroy (G-d knows they have tried!): Am Y'israel Chai -- The People Of Israel Yet Live!
Someone once asked Rebbe Nachman of Breslov: "When I am praying and I mention HaShem's Holy Name, what profound thoughts, what deep intentions, should I have in mind?"
The Rebbe replied: "Isn't the simple meaning -- G-d -- enough for you? (Tzaddik 414).
"Even after all the wisdom and sophistication - even if you possess true wisdom - you must cast aside all wisdom and sophistication and serve God with complete innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever.
The greatest wisdom of all is not to be wise at all. The truth is that no one in the world is wise, for "there is no wisdom and no understanding before God" (Proverbs 21:30). The main thing God wants is the heart.
Likutey Moharan II, 44
Noahides are welcome here!There is no single "correct" way to live a Noahide life:Noahides (Bene Noach, etc) are non-Jews (Gentiles, Goyim) who "take the hem of the Jew and say, "We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you" (Zechariah 8:23). Derech Noahide (the Noahide Way) is righteous! If you are seeking this Path I am here to help you as I can. Online you will find a few organized Noahide groups. Some of these groups seem good to me, some are not so good. Some are so strict and "legalistic" that most Noahides find little value in them, while other groups are so "bare" as to offer nothing of substance, no direction. As with Judaism, there is no single right way to practice Derech Noahide. Contact me if I can be of any assistance to you.
Always remember: happiness is not a side matter in your spiritual journey -- it is essential -- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
I sincerely hope you will find your time here at AllFaith.com and at my Facebook site spiritually profitable. I sincerely invite your Questions, Comments, and of course Study Corrections.
Peace, Love and Light,
~ Shlomo Phillips
First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist.
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