Sago Boulevard

Friday, July 22, 2005

Halakhic Heavy Lifting

In the context of a on-going discussion about the believability (for lack of a better word) of Judaism, Orthoprax writes:
I see the world as it is today. I don't see water splitting into walls, I don't see chariots of fire in the sky, I don't see the sun stopping in its movement, I don't see giants or witches or angels anywhere (well, in movies I suppose). I don't see any miracles in life.

It's important to point out here a significant difference of perspective. I'm looking at the world through halakhic lenses so the miraculous means something very different to me. See, for instance, the blessings before and after Shema. In R. Wurzburger's words, "We must begin with refusing to let familiarity dull our sense of wonder." Of course, though, this only makes sense if you are looking for God. You won't find what you're not looking for. You won't see what you're not prepared to believe. Orthoprax paraphrases me as saying: "So, if you believe then you will believe. If you are skeptical then you will be skeptical. Wowzers." Well, no. If you open yourself up to the possiblity of God in a sincere and diligent way, then you may recognize Him the next time you see the sunrise. If you want a neat logical demonstration of why it is reasonable to believe in God before doing all of the heavy lifting that Halakhah requires, you won't get it. It is in this light that the rabbis advise: "Do not believe an individual who claims to have found [spiritual treasures] without having toiled for them" (BT Megilah 6b).