Arthur Green: The question is not: “Do you believe that God created the world, and when?” but rather: “Do you experience God creating the world each day, encountering a divine presence in the natural world around you?” Such a religious experience also asks: “What does that encounter call upon you to do?”
Rabbi Arthur Green’s invitation to participate in a neo-Hasidic revision of pious mysticism has been resonating with me since I bought my first scholarly work 30 years ago, his two-volume edited collection titled Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible Through the Middle Ages. Newly Orthodox, and in rabbinical school at Yeshiva University, I was seeking rigorous
I would like to take issue with Arthur Green’s response. I do not proclaim myself a secularist at any point in the essay and I am in fact not a secularist. I am a deeply religious person even though that is not rooted in a sense of God and spirituality; this is one of my
Yisroel Bass: Faith is an exercise in not being preoccupied with ourselves, and many of the tasks around the farm, and the mitzvosassociated with them, force us to put our own needs and egos aside. We feed the animals before ourselves, and though we may have showered already for Shabbos, we roll up our sleeves to get the shmura wheat put away safely before nightfall.
Following my husband’s death eight years ago, I was bereft over the loss of my soul mate. After 25 years of trying with David to be authentic as Jews and artists, I found that religion no longer came close to comforting, sustaining, or even interesting me. I was, it seemed in recovery from Orthodoxy. Now
Tzemah Yoreh: I am an apikores (a heretic) in the learned tradition of Ecclesiastes, Elisha ben Abuyah, and Baruch Spinoza. I am a scholar of Jewish texts, yet constantly doubting. I have my place in traditional Judaism, a place with which I am content, and it is not a spiritual place.
A Response by Arthur Green I thank Sh’ma and its editor for the rich assemblage of responses to my essay. It is a pleasure to have stirred up a moment of relative consensus that ranges across the lines from Kabbalah scholar to Modern Orthodox rosh yeshiva and on to leaders of Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism.
“Might we do without religion entirely? Plenty of people have tried. Not in Communist countries, as I’ve already said, but here. A lot of people have been forced to do without it because the old-time religions they know of are too superstitious, too full of magic, too ignorant of biology and physics to harmonize with
And I will betroth you unto Me forever; I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in loving-kindness, and in compassion. And I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness; and you will know God. — Hosea 2:21-22 Many observant Jews utter these lines each morning as they wrap the straps