Hashkafa Lemaaseh (TM)
Here's a little post I came up with after too much time reading The Godol Hador's blog:
So it’s almost Rosh Hashana but your emunah is waning.
You haven’t been to Shachris in weeks and you hardly remember what a shofar sounds like. Maybe you’ve been hanging out on the J-blog scene late at night...talking to people who have given up on God, left Orthodox Judaism or are suffering from doubts can give a person lot of scary perspective sometimes. Much of it is worth exploring but it’s Elul now and this is no time for a Hashkafic meltdown!
So let me try to bring you back from outer space just a little (and myself too) but without all the philosophy and stuff, just some Haskafa l'Maaseh™.
Let’s assume that you believe in God (and maybe even spirituality.)
Well, what else do you want?
You want to live a good life, be a good person, raise your children well, and do what God wants you to do.
Why do you want to do that?
Because you acknowledge that G-d is the Supreme Being, and if He created you there must be a purpose for your existence.
That said, how does the current state of Torah / Orthodox Judaism fit in with these goals?
Q Will it give us a good life?
A Yeah I think so, community, Yom Tov, Family, History etc... I'm pretty happy with all that.
Q Will it help us to be good people?
A Oh for sure! As GH has said many times before religion is a serious motivator in the morality department even if it’s not the ONLY way to get there. Even if we are only moral because we hope for rewards or fear punishment – ‘metoch she lo lishma bah lishmah’ etc.
Q Will it help us raise our kids?
A I think so- it sets limits and that's a good thing for kids.
When I took my kids to the grocery store when they were younger, they used to plead with me to buy them cookies, or other junk that was not on the list. When I would say no to them they would continue to whine or fuss until I gave it or threatened to remove them from the store (which I’ve actually done more than once.)
On the other hand when I tell them (honestly) that the cookies are not kosher the argument stops. What do I learn from this? Consistency is very good for children and the OJ lifestyle is very consistent (when it comes to observance of halacha).
Q Will it help us do what God wants?
A Well that's the hardest one to answer - but I have to believe that He doesn't want us trashing this beautiful planet, or killing each other, or being selfish, shallow, bastards... Plus we have this facinating work called the Torah which even our Mis-nagid recognizes as beautiful. So maybe we should take our clues from there. In addition, some of us are lucky enough to feel spirituality (even if it’s not as often as we'd like.) If even just a taste of it here and there draws us to want to be close to Hashem- we'll find a way to make it happen.