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by Hart Peikoff, January 19, 2011

What follows is an observation rather than a judgment. For who am I to judge?  Never the less, Judaism is in the midst of an enormous challenge. Our synagogues today are not drawing congregants in terms of numbers. The attrition rate is alarming. Assimilation and Secularism are commonly heard words.  
Some of us may think: how unwise of our ancestors to have committed all future generations to a covenant with G-D or as some amongst us call him, HaShem. I can say this though, there is no civilized living without entering upon social relationship acts and I am not talking about facebook. Such acts imply the acceptance of a commitment, the making of a promise or the taking of a pledge. To enter into a relationship with HaShem, people had to accept a commitment.
An ancient wise man, Socrates, taught us that a life without thinking is not worth living. Now, thinking is a noble effort, but the finest thinking may end in futility. In thinking, man is left to himself; he may soar into astral space and proclaim the finest thoughts; yet what shall be the echo and what is its meaning for the soul? Ask yourself that question.
I am a baby in my Jewish journey, but I think the Torah taught us that life without commitment is not worth living; that thinking without deep roots will bear flowers, but no fruits. As a result my new search for answers in Judaism makes complete sense to me. Our commitment is to HaShem and our roots are in the prophetic events of Israel.
It makes sense that the dignity of man stands in direct proportion to his obligations as well as to his rights. The joy of being a Jew is in the sense of commitment, and the meaning of Jewish history somehow revolves around the faithfulness of Israel to the covenant.
And you know mere attachment to events does not fully express the essence of Jewish living. For many of us the decisive moment has yet to come. Why? Well it makes sense the event must be fulfilled, not only believed in.
What was expected at Mount Sinai I think comes about in the moment of a good deed. A commandment is a foresight, a deed is a fulfillment. So it makes sense that the deed or mitzvah completes the event. Therefore Revelation is a beginning, our mitzvot must continue, our living must complete it.
The will of HaShem is eternal, transcending all moments, all events, including acts of revelation. The significance of time depends upon what is done in time in relation to His will. The moment at Sinai depends for its fulfillment upon this present moment, upon all moments. I suppose if Israel had been disloyal subsequent to Sinai, that great moment would have been deprived of all meaning. The tablets are broken whenever the golden calf is called into being. We were taught to believe at the core every hour is endowed with the power to lend meaning to Life or by not acting meaning is withheld.
Modern day examples prevail far too often. The commandments of Shabbos are broken often. Look how the Rady Centre breaks the commandments of shabbos when it opens its doors before the end of the Sabbath. This act alone contributes more to Jewish secularism than many of us comprehend. Well it is much easier to turn the other cheek. One statement is for certain as far as my understanding illuminates my reasoning; our institutions cannot be all things to all people. Or we shall become nothing eventually to everyone. We shall not strengthen Judaism with the mindset of growing in the direction of “all inclusive!”
If it was only my one action of using my cell phone on shabbos the journey towards observance would be a cake walk. Creating worthy new habits takes time. I can simply look within and see the lifestyle I was living. I did not create those habits over night so I am trying to be easy upon myself. The Rabbis have stated to me often: “Go slowly in your new journey, Hart.”  And I add to that, but GO and more so GROW!
This is not easy or every Jew would walk this path. Look within though and you may come to the realization the struggle is worth the gift waiting all of us as we break through the struggle. There is a Jewish soul amongst all of us Jews no matter our affiliation. Action though illuminates attraction.
Yasher Koach

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