Thursday, June 25, 2015

Faith To A Rabbi

"There was never a moment that I questioned my Judaism. There were many moments in my life when I’ve questioned my faith in various aspects, absolutely. I think there are probably people who are sort of gifted with faith the way Mozart is gifted with music, and they never doubt god's presence in their lives for a moment. I have not been so blessed and I certainly do feel sometimes, not necessarily in the moment of the debate, more often in quieter moments I sense doubt, I feel, I understand regret. I mean you know what Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav said, he said “He was a moon man, his faith waxed and waned.” And I feel that sometimes, there are sometimes I feel it more, there are sometimes when I feel it less. But I had never doubted the value and the worth of the Jewish way of life. That to me, I’ve seen it in evidence so often in so many places and I believe Judaism has contributed so much to the world, that for me that’s not something I ever ever doubt." *

- How do you explain faith to a rabbi who doesn't have any?
- Maybe you can't. You've heard the claim there's something good in everyone?
- “When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be." Isn't it true?
- Strictly speaking, no.
- Why not?
- Because acting on the principle of power makes you incapable of acting right.** To get the billionaire hoarder to do anything good you'd have to take his money away from him.
- And then what good could he do?
- The same as everyone else. Is the rabbi you're thinking of acting for power or to do good?
- I don't know. Is it possible to do good if you don't have faith?
- I don't think so. What about you?
- Me either. So how do we explain faith to the rabbi who doesn't have any?
- Assuming the rabbi isn't interested power, he's reachable.
- Yes, but how? Not by convincing. Faith is by definition not reasonable. We believe despite not having reason.
- Not really.
- Why not?
- Faith is a combination of reason and uncertainty.*** It is seeing the progress of good in the world as a vehicle set going in the right direction.
- Imagine I'm the rabbi and explain faith to me.
- "Rabbi, You know very well, because it is part of the religion, that good done in the world can persist in the form of beauty, and the persistence of beauty in the world is a mechanism that makes progress possible. Beauty of good attracts good just as ugliness of bad attracts bad. Whether progress happens is uncertain. All we know is that it can happen, and given infinite time it will happen, it must happen. No one forces you to want to wait. No one person forces you to, but your job does."
*  A Spiritual Leader For The Modern Age
** The Atrophy Of Good. "Praises are for the base, fair sister, cunningly to entice them to fair virtue by our ignorings of the ill in them, and our imputings of the good not theirs." - Herman Melville, 'Pierre' 
*** Karma & Kabbalah