Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Observance, Ethics, and Being a Good Jew

I want very much to thank Stella for passing this along to me. I'm surprised I missed this back when it printed in 2010, but, well, life was in a funny place at the time.

The article -- Joining the Covenant -- was posted on Jewish Ideas Daily more than two years ago, and it was written by Rabbi Irving Greenberg (aka Rabbi Yitz Greenberg), a modern-Orthodox Jew, and details his thoughts about synthesizing "traditional requirements of the law with a principled openness to converts who will not become fully Orthodox."

The article is beautifully written, and I want to highlight a few thing that he says that gives me peace in my perpetual state of flux as an underconstructionist Jew.
Furthermore: I believe with perfect faith that God loves and honors good, serious Jews-whether or not they keep all the mitzvot. I believe that the merit of the mitzvot they do keep, including in the form of good deeds and self-sacrifice, outweighs all the punishments that can be incurred by non-observance, and that God will treat them accordingly.
As a concluding note I add this: when it comes to defining a good Jew, stressing the "particularist" ritual mitzvot over against the "universalist" mitzvot of ethical behavior is itself a gross distortion.
I think Rabbi Greenberg has hit the nail on the head. So often, we forget what it means to be a Jew. We also forget that our actions are our own in the end and only HaShem has a right to say, think, or act on our individual neshamot

It's an old article, but it's worth a read and a consideration, if not more -- action.