Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Good God

It is said that god created the universe for humans to finish it off. To make the universe into a radiant abode shining with goodness and evil in unequal ratio. He has deliberately left the universe unstable for humans to “repair and renew” it. Judaism has a wonderful word called tikkun that describes the attempt to repair. Repair may mean collecting the shards into which the world is broken. Or it may also mean re-pair: pair up the shards to solve the jigsaw puzzle the universe seems to be. In any case, the universe we live in today is literally broken.

So, a Jew must follow the Jewish law (halakkah) to repair the shards and gradually reshape the universe as God originally wanted it to be (and don’t forget this a deed.) This makes humans partner with God and draws every Jew closer to God. Closeness is a curious Jewish virtue. Even in a synagogue, the rabbi brings the Torah scrolls to the middle of the congregation to point that Torah is closer and at the heart of every Jew. All these rituals can be seen as dogmatic exercises.

But, instead of dismissing them as tiresome tenets, one can surpass the literal meaning to get to the heart of the necessity of the ritual. One can then get to know why this ritual is in place. Only after examining carefully should one decide the value of it. Try to edit the ritual before axing it altogether. Judaism allows commentary on the Torah and every generation has done its duty of interpreting the Torah in light of the prevalent circumstances. So, today’s Torah is a cumulative product of all those magnificent (and lesser marvelous) interpretations.

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