Questions, Not Answers

Rabbi Dan Horwitz
April 3, 2014
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“We will do and we will listen” — still relevant for Jews today? Not in how many of us make our choices… Especially in a world where leisure time is cherished and Judaism is competing in the marketplace of extra-curricular activities. Most contemporary Jews reject the traditional “commandedness” structure of Jewish life, so how can we convince them that they should be acting in a certain way, and that later they will come to understand those actions? Despite knowing that it is in the service of others that we often find true contentment and purpose, too often our first question is, “How does this benefit me?”

Getting out of our own way – is there a secret? Coming out of our own Egypt – freeing ourselves from the shackles/bonds that consume us, either knowingly or unknowingly. How can we train ourselves to become conscious as to what these bonds are? In being conscious of self, how can we avoid feeling self-conscious and give in to the moments/experiences that are taking place? Allow ourselves to be vulnerable, emotional, and imperfect? How do we destroy a culture that has thrived on the aggrandizement of self, pretentiousness, and demanding a constant communal fashion show, while exploiting every opportunity judge and criticize others?

“Spiritual but not religious” – the rallying cry of many contemporary Jews. Is spiritual fervor really religious fervor disguised by a name change? What role does “Torah” play, if any, in such a construct? Can the words of the Shema truly be a statement of the unity of all, interconnected and interdependent, of a shared energy source? Is such an interpretation, while for some uplifting to the spirit, disingenuous; trying too hard to re-purpose an ancient mantra to serve contemporary beliefs?

Are the questions the wrong questions? How do we know which questions are the right ones to ask?

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Rabbi Dan Horwitz is a rabbi, educator, consultant and community builder. Committed to lifelong learning, he holds a BA in Politics from Brandeis University, an MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College, a JD and an MA in Sport Management from the University of Michigan, and an MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew College. He received rabbinic ordination from the non-denominational Mesifta Adas Wolkowisk. Dan is happiest when engaged in meaningful discussion with others on topics of Jewish and general philosophical interest, when playing basketball, and when Justin Verlander is pitching. For more information, check out

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