One of the great problems any religious person should struggle with is whether it is actually possible to be religious. In fact, what is the essence of genuine religiosity? The concept at the root of all religions is the awareness that it is extremely difficult to live up to the awe of the moment. The famous dispute regarding the order of lighting the Chanukah lights illuminates a practical approach to this issue.
Only something placed in relation to the sum-total of the human being bears significance – for such an act indicates complete commitment: “Till death do us part.”
This may be the most crucial message for Jews today. Despite the pursuits and activities that occupy them, as long as Jews are not inspired to feel a total, personal commitment to authentic Jewishness, the right conditions for continuity and renewal will never be created.
Our Torah is wide enough and deep enough to cater for everyone. The Torah can speak to each and every person; however, sometimes one aspect will speak to a specific individual while not another. In this impromptu dialogue, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach expresses a number of very significant, critical thoughts about Judaism, God, the Torah, and our own relations with our fellow.
Loving one’s fellow as oneself is a central tenet and practical commandment of our religion. And yet, as simple as it sounds, its application is extremely difficult. Even those well-versed in the intricacies of the significance and laws governing this precept have difficulty incorporating it into their inner selves and actions. On occasion, it takes the insight and words of a bus driver to properly inculcate this love for one’s fellow.
When my oldest granddaughter became Bat Mitzva I wrote a book for her with advice and stories. Here is one such story.