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123http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/11/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---11_30_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 11_30_2012
11/29/2012 10:56 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 30, 2012

 

                If I asked you to describe a person of faith, you might describe a person of age and wisdom, because faith is supposed to come after years of seeking and sometimes finding meaning in life’s experiences. You might be right, but you could be wrong. Judaism doesn’t equate age with wisdom. They can go together, but it isn’t a perfect formula. Rather, Judaism identifies faith in anyone who regularly seeks greater understanding of who they are intended to be in covenant with their community and God.

                In Torah, this Shabbat, we read about Jacob’s wrestling encounter with an angel. Before the encounter was over, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, because he wrestled with a man, presumably an angel of God, and prevailed. Thus, we are all Israel, “Yisrael,” because we, descendants of Jacob, are also “God-wrestlers.” That is, we are prone to ask, demand, inquire and interpret our Torah teachings for greater and deeper understanding. And, through such inquiry our faith doesn’t wither, instead it thrives. In fact, our doubting and inquiry strengthen our faith. Through the exchange of information and the process of inquiry we arrive at important reasons to remain faithful to our covenant with God. Very few have been lost in the process of inquiry. More often, many have found meaning, and through it, faith.

                If you ever wondered aloud or silently about God, mitzvah, ritual, ethics, or Torah, for example, then you could call yourself a faithful Jewish man or woman. If you were firm in your belief but questioned events that seemed contrary to a world filled with God’s creative acts, then you could also call yourself a faithful Jewish man or woman. Only one who claims to have perfect faith and never inquires of Torah or Jewish teachings for greater understanding of human inclinations or God’s ways, would fail to be a truly faithful Jew. Since Jacob, our Jewish heritage demands that we ask, doubt and inquire of it for many reasons, not the least of which is that the process enables us to make progress in our constant search for greater faith. We also owe it to the next generation to ask, so that they might benefit from our insights when they embark on their own search.

                There are no slack days when it comes to our pursuit of faith. Jewish life is a constant rhythm of study, worship, good deeds, and rest. God willing, our week has been filled with good deeds that reflect our best understanding of Jewish ethics in business and community; we’ve spent some time examining Jewish insights into current events; and we’ve chosen the end of this week to make time for Shabbat. We’re all people of faith when we admit that, whether or not we are “observant” Jews, by definition, we are all people with “inquiring” Jewish hearts and minds. Our task today is to ask and inquire; our task for all time is to keep the faith!

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

 

Mark your calendars for our Chanukah Family Service in the Sanctuary, December 14, 2012. Come with your whole family and go home with Chanukah lights!

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