On God and Queen Esther (Megan)


So the youngest smart-mouth son Benjamin’s fiance Megan converted to Judaism this past weekend. She did it quietly and gracefully and without much fanfare. She took her ritual mikvah dunking in the synagogue in Augusta, Georgia and emerged not just ritually clean but spiritually pure and forever joined to a religious faith that is thousands of years old. She also picked up a new Hebrew name in the process. Megan is now also Esther. Not to honk my own horn people, but that’s two out of two brand new Women of Valor for the Tribe (see earlier blog about Eli’s fiance Ashley who is now also Leah). With so many Jews today assimilating or no longer remaining meaningfully connected to their Jewish heritage and religious identity, shouldn’t I get some kind of special “badge” or gold pin for raising sons who know how to find beautiful and smart shiksas and lead them joyfully into the bosom of Abraham? In addition, the mixing of fresh DNA into the Mazer family gene pool (one hopefully not teeming with Ashkenazi related ADHD, mental illness and motion sickness) is a noteworthy secondary perk. Anyway, such momentous events often lead to philosophical and/or cosmological reflection. That means some of us just cant help but ponder the big picture and what all “this” means.

Last time I published Ashley’s written response to why she chose Judaism as her identified faith. This time I am posting Benjamin’s thoughtful response to a very religious friend who was assertive enough to ask him a challenging yet quite appropriate question about his concept of God. I thought it was a pretty damn good answer for a 24 year old (soon to be 25) punk-kid med student. Here it is:

A close friend asked me “What does it mean to be a Jew who doesn’t believe in a personal God?” Here is what I responded to her:
It means that I don’t believe in a God who has a consciousness, emotions, a will, or who makes choices or interferes with trivial happenings on Earth. On the other hand, I believe that the incredible complexity and uniformity of the universe (in the sense that the laws of physics are uniformly obeyed) is so amazingly beautiful that there must be “something” that’s behind it all. That “something” is certainly well beyond our understanding, but it cannot be something that operates like a feeble-minded living creature (because it simply doesn’t make sense to think that something “all-knowing” and powerful enough to create everything would also experience anger, guilt, happiness, joy, or any other distinctly human emotion). Rather, that “something” is the source of everything; It is the creator or everything, the maintainer of everything, the “force” that percolates the universe, gives matter its mass, electrons their charge, space/time its dimensions, and ultimately, humans their conscious experience of their lives with all the emotions that go along with that. And one might say “well, that’s all great if you believe that, but what does that have to do with Judaism?” Well, I would argue that Judaism is not a source of absolute knowledge, but rather, it’s a mutual identity (and the history that comes along with it) and an agreement between its adherents. It’s a “contract of agreement” on basic ideals and principles, namely, basic morals and respect (i.e. treat other people the way you would like to be treated), the goal of Tikun Olam (healing the “broken” world), emphasis on questioning/challenging/discussing/disagreeing, and strong encouragement of the constant pursuit of knowledge and learning. It’s also an ongoing “forum” for discussion of controversial topics and areas where the lines may be blurred. It’s a way to access many different perspectives from people that you can at least somewhat trust because of their professed agreement with those basic ideals and morals that I mentioned. And here’s where the identity and history part come in; the benefit is that those discussions have been going on for thousands of years among the Jewish people, and because of that, by being a Jew today we have access to a much larger number of thoughtful perspectives (and even ones from different time periods that have evolved along with society). By discussing, amending, and adhering to those ideals over centuries, that’s how I think we are accomplishing Tikun Olam. It’s a way to show respect for that cryptic yet powerful “something” that created and established everything by saying “I, as a human, am thankful for my ability to experience life and so I will participate in trying to make the world a better place so that future generations are able to experience the beauty of the tumultuous battle of emotions and experiences that is human life (and hopefully tip those experiences ever so slowly towards the more positive side- as evidenced by the fact that today we can live full lives with illnesses that 1000 years ago would have caused us to suffer and die).”

About captaincliff

Psychologist by day, insomniac Pirate blogger by night, this Child of God likes to share sarcastic social commentary as well as topsy-turvy observations about life, love and the pursuit of zaniness, a functional form of insanity in an increasingly insane world
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