Friday, 24 December 2021
I wrote this first 2 years ago. Now I'm updating it to republish it here. Two years ago, I got a short email from a lady asking for resources so she could decide if she should "convert." Jewish tradition is to turn away such a person 3 times. My first question to her was what would she convert from and what is she interested in converting to. She said from agnosticism and to Judaism. Here is my response.
Thank you (for telling me "from agnosticism to Judaism"). That helps me a lot. I know many Jewish people who practice Judaism while believing agnosticism. They think that what they "do" has nothing to do with what they "believe." The Bible (and many other sources) call this hypocrisy.
Rabbi Trail: Can you "believe" agnosticism? Agnosticism is not knowing if there is a god. If that is a belief or faith, is it faith or belief in not knowing? That would be like saying, "I believe in not knowing." How would you pray into such a belief? Where would your prayers go? Who would hear them? So many questions, so little time. End RT.
These "Jewish agnostics" practice Judaism to honor their ancestors and heritage. But, I have to wonder, if you're going to believe nothing, then why bother practicing Judaism? Maybe you could set me straight. As far as I know, agnostics have placed their faith in the fact that they don't know if there is a god.
I am a Messianic Jew. I was raised Jewish, in the Jewish faith, and 40 years ago came to believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah. Furthermore; I believe you don't have to stop being Jewish to believe in the Jewish Messiah (in fact, it's a good fit).
Just for you to read this requires faith in God. Did your eyes create themselves? Is your brain (highly functioning as it is) a fluke of natural chance and evolution? How did the first amoeba know it needed an eye? The evolution option just doesn't make sense. In nature, things don't get smarter, they get dumber. Mutation is our day is what cancer is. It's a disease.
Yes, whether you believe it or not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob created you in a wonderful way. But our free will gets in our way. The first man, Adam, had the same problem. Rebellion against God's righteous principles in the Garden of Eden (there was only one rule at the time) caused separation from God (you can read about it in the Bible - the early chapters of Genesis).
God had to send His own Son in the fullness of time to fix our problem. Through Yeshua, God reconciled the world back to Himself. It may not make sense that our faith in God's Son could heal our sin problem. That's why it's called Grace Beyond Reason (you should read the book by that title authored by our friend, Jerry Miller). But then, much of the kingdom of God is counterintuitive.
If anything I've written makes you want to know more about how to live a happy, healthy and prosperous life (did I leave out complete and satisfying?), then please contact me again. I'm sure I or someone in my congregation would be glad to answer your questions. I would wish you blessings for the New Year, but if you don't know if there's a god, you wouldn't know where the blessings come from. So I'll leave you with this. Happy New Year. I can help you and hope to hear from you soon. Rabbi Michael.
Sadly, as far as I know, the lady decided to be lost and miserable. I feel badly for her.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,