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Religion & Meaning: Yes, But Why Judaism & Not Christianity?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Iyyar 11, 5780
Hello, Thank you for providing this website. I am a non-practicing Jew in London. For some reason I am feeling an increasing focus that makes me feel something spiritual is missing in life. It could be that as I am now 60 and can see the finish line, the fear of mortality is driving it. However I sort of feel there is something out there more than owning fancy cars. My initial question is simply is it better to be religious , but say a catholic, than not to be religious at all ? Silly perhaps but I’m curious to know ... Best wishes. Shalom Howard
Shalom Howard, Firstly, allow me to admire your search for truth, which we see is becoming more and more common, during these days of Corona, where, as you worded well, people "feel there is something out there, more than owning fancy cars ". It's true, there is a common base for all monotheistic religions, which is our own Judaism and our Bible. If others also believe that God created the world, chose Abraham and the nation of Israel, took us out of Egypt, revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai (where He gave us the Ten Commandments which eternally changed the world for the better) and to the prophets of Israel, then you have no reason to doubt that identical and accepted belief. If afterwards, the different streams of Christianity suggested many various and conflicting changes, and the Moslems opted for even other deviations, and they are not all that convincing to us, nor to each other, then why not stay with the original! In addition, the unbelievable Jewish history, even in modern times, where the Holocaust and the subsequent meteoric success of the tiny State of Israel [in the War of Independence, the Six Day War, the Entebbe raid, and not to mention our share in the world's hi-tech and Nobel prizes (0.2% of mankind have been objectively awarded 22% of those awards!)], are agreeably out of the ordinary, and demand notice. Today, even many Christians agree that the Chosen People have returned to center stage, speaking the Holy Hebrew, and with Jerusalem as our capitol, as in the words of Christian theologian Paul Van Buren, infers "even to the biggest sceptic that the Bible is not just a book of the past". If they are realizing this, how much more so we Jews should notice it. We aren't at all interested in converting anyone, but if you were already fortunate enough to be born Jewish, why not stay with the original? Also, from my experience, you'll see that the more Judaism that you will learn, the more you will fall in love with it, both intellectually and emotionally. It's always best to let an idea speak for itself, but that takes time and effort. True, Christianity is easier, and that is why it is so much more popular, but being "easy" does not mean it's more true. Unfortunately, convenience and comfort influence the rationale or even beliefs of many people, but experience shows that most important things are gained precisely by the effort, and not by avoiding challenges or truths. It's not always easy to be Jewish, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. All the best in your strive for truth, idealism and goodness, and welcome back! (Rabbi) Ari Shvat
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