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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is Halacha Everything?


During a conversation I had when talking about some of the characteristics in girls I like to date, a question was posed to me that completely stunned me. "Why do you value halacha as everything? That is, if she doesn't have halacha as a priority, you wouldn't be willing to date her?"

Where to begin. Having come from a more right-wing background, halacha really is everything. There's very little focus on the spiritual aspects of Judaism, and that side is supposed to be found internally, on one's own. I disagree with that, but that's what it is.

Questioning my belief in the importance of halacha shocked me. I mean, what is more important to focus on? The spiritual side of Judaism is incredibly important, but how can you have a spiritual connection if you're breaking all manners of halacha on a regular basis? I'm not saying you can't, I just don't get what that spiritual side is. What does a person mean when they say they have a spiritual connection to God?

There are those who say "God understands" when they blatantly break halacha. I break halacha. It pains me when I do. But I don't say that God understands, but 'unfortunately, this is where I'm holding.' It sounds like semantics, but there's a big difference. The way I phrase it acknowledges that I have work to do on myself and that I'm not happy with where I am. The way they say it, it sounds like they have a buddy-buddy relationship with God and He's cool with their decision to pick and choose what they want to follow. I acknowledge that I have to change, so I can change. Of course, knowing that I have to change doesn't mean I will. But without that understanding, what can cause a person to person to change?

I'm honestly puzzled as to how people happily live their lives as frum Jews without the ever-present thought that they have to grow. God forbid, I do not judge them. I don't know where they came from, what they experienced, what they’re going through presently or what will be. I just don't get what they view their religion as. Is it a religion they were born into and are stuck with? A religion they're happy to be a part of but don't see the need to adapt their own lifestyles to? Or are they perfectly happy with how they live their lives and pick and choose what they find easy to follow and shuck the rest of it?

It's baffling. How do they view their religion? And if halacha isn't everything, or not the most important thing, what is?

7 comments:

  1. Never have I read a post I so strongly agree with.

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    1. Thank you very much FG! That's quite a compliment.

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  2. You hit a very sensitive topic... it is one of those great debates... like the people who keep "half shabbos"... (intentionally, that is) even though they know better... halacha gives the boundaries for developing a relationship, that is necessary and demanded of us, while the hashkfa is where we want to be as grow... they go hand in hand but halacha is the foundation... I hear you...

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    1. I have another post, almost finished, on the topic of hashkafa that will be posted in the next few days. Yup, halacha has to be the foundation and I wish I could understand how some people manage to believe otherwise.

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  3. I totally agree with you. When I date a guy, I always ask if they're careful about halacha and if they don't know something, will they ask. It's so important but very many people really don't take it seriously.

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    1. I'm exactly the same way. I place very little importance on hashkafa (this is precisely the topic of a future post), and really only care about their standards of following halacha.

      Truthfully, it's more about how they value halacha as opposed to what their current standard is. If they give it a lot of importance but know that they aren't where they want to be and want to grow towards that (like Rachelli said), it's very different than if they follow a lot of halacha but are satisfied with their level of following. I'd prefer the girl who's on a "lower" level but wants to grow to the girl on the "higher" level but doesn't feel the need to grow.

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    2. When you find her let me know :P

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