Category Archives: Theology

The brutal truth about Reward and Punishment

Yeah, I don’t believe in that one the way most people do. The sages state that the reward for performing Mitzvot is not “in this world”. Also, all those rewards and punishments that appear in Tanach – their all collective ones, not for individual deeds (2 exceptions). And of course there’s the ultimate proof – the world doesn’t work that way. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people and vice verse. I don’t buy the concepts “we don’t know who’s really good and bad”, and “it’s deducted from their future reward”. Those both seem geared more at coping with the harsh reality than actual explanations of it. I prefer to think of the Torah a bit like a cucumber (yeah, that’s what I wrote). What is the reward for eating a cucumber? being healthy. It isn’t divinely decreed that way on the spot; the system is set up that way. Eat veggies – healthier immune system, less sickness, less depression, etc… Similarly, Torah – and Halacha – teach us what is good for us, what “fits” our individual and collective predispositions. If you’re smart – you listen, which carries with it an emotionally, psychologically and spiritually healthier life (and hopefully a happier one as well). But it doesn’t mean you can’t get stung by a bee, have your house broken into or fail at work. You may be better fit – physically, emotionally and psychologically – to deal with those hardships but they can happen none the less. (248)

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Why am I Observant?

I don’t feel like I have to, I’m not afraid of what will happen to me if I don’t, it’s not because my soul was commanded at Har Sinai (maybe it’s just me but I have no personal memory of the event, just a communal one) and it’s not because it makes more sense than other faiths (which it may or may not).
It’s because I choose to be part of the historical phenomena called – The Jewish People. Call me naive, but I have come to Trust The System (or, TTS as I’ve come to call it). The miraculous system that has sustained thousands of years, with all its ups and downs, molding and creating a better society and a better world; a world with moral absolutes, a world that abhors violence and cherishes kindness, a world of rules and laws that strive for morality and aspire to the divine. That is the kind of system I choose to be part of to the extent of my ability. Sometimes I do a better job at participating and contributing to this endless process and sometimes not as much but, why am I observant – because I choose to be part of the most significant system I know of.(207)

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