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How do you know it’s real?

26th October 2015 - Uncategorised
How do you know it’s real?

I’ve been asked a dozen or more times but today, again, I contemplated the solid nature of my ‘reason’.
In a few days I’ll be in Israel, the center of world. It’s a physical place, not some annex of spirituality or celestial kingdom. It’s a full on rock, earth and water place. It’s the ‘whole’, the ‘sum’ of a promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s not a trick of the light, a reward in heaven or karma comeback.

Christianity taught me that if I was good, i.e., believed in Jesus, I’d be rewarded. In fact that whole premise is ‘believe’ and get to Heaven or ‘don’t’ and go to Hell. I responded to this command like some dog who was tricked into thinking the ball had been thrown, when there is no ball. Things have changed now and over the last 4 years I’ve re-evaluated my position, my belief, my faith and the tool set I use when examining religion, it’s component parts and what role they play in my relationship with God.

Israel isn’t some mythical prize waiting to be won by ‘faith’. It’s certainly not my prize.. or reward.. it might be some day, but not yet.

How many years did I spend accepting a text that leaves any avid student void of solid rock. The Christians ‘New’ (the very word itself slaps the Tanakh in the face) ‘Testament’ offers no author, no starting foundation, no physical evidence and no lasting blood line or legacy. It’s a cloud, it looks like whatever the viewer wants it to look like, it can’t be harnessed, touched.. anchored.

‘Ok, so you don’t believe in the New Testament.. But what makes you think the Tanakh is true?’

Such a loaded question and one that is usually asked with the spring-loaded ‘Hah! Got you response.’

The issue with that question is that so many factors aren’t held to account. Context, interpretation, history etc are all valuable and need to be given consideration.

What makes me think the Tanakh is true.. it’s a fair question. Nothing about the Tanakh makes me think ‘it’ is true. It’s such a vast universe of information and to be utterly honest, if I approach it with naive eyes then I have to admit, it can’t be true. Why? Because we dive in the deep end. Hyper literal. The Tanakh is full of analogy, history, poetry, lyrics, lessons, warnings, metaphor.. and it can’t be read in a hyper-literal manner. If a person approached the text that way, then the Tanakh can’t make anyone think it is true. That said, it IS true. All of it.
Better I think, rather than saying ‘what makes to believe the Tanakh is true’, try, ‘what makes you trust the Tanakh is true’.

Of course, for anyone who loves the Tanakh this is a question that could call for endless answers but I’ll try to nail a short response.

How do I reply?

Thanks you for asking, I guess I’ll have to respond with this. The Tanakh doesn’t make me believe anything. The Tanakh, at it’s core, is a book and no one should accept the words on a page without testing them in the real world. Reason and argument. These are the tools that forge belief. Why do I place my faith in a book that was started some 3500+ years ago? Again, I don’t place my faith in the book. I place my faith in a divine power. A great designer. A larger construct that our perception allows. A decision like that comes through personal experience and quests, exploration and revelation. Did you know that the moon is SO perfectly sized and placed that it’s shadow exactly covers the earth.. and the earth exactly covers the moon? If the moon was any closer, the tides would flood.. any further away and we wouldn’t have tides at all, any bigger and the night would be too long.. and any smaller and it would be too short. All of these things play and played a part in the story of our life on this planet. Just one, tiny, example of why I can’t accept the ‘cosmic accident’ argument. Having decided on the ‘physical’ (in the sense of existence) of some ‘greater’ being, the identity parade of ‘who’ that might be started.

The Bible was the only book, the only container that gave me a fulfilling answer and explanation to the questions I had about life, the universe and everything. The ‘belief’ I had and what I needed was the stuffing to flesh out the story behind it. I trust the Tanakh. I don’t accept the ‘whole’ as history. I don’t accept the ‘whole’ as fact. I do accept the ‘whole’ as true, each part in its own way.

Why? Where is your proof?

In short. The Jews are my proof. The Tanakh, while giving us a template outlining how to live a good life, is the origin story of the Jewish people. I’ll often ask the asker, ‘where did the Jews comes from?’ and more often than not I’ll get one of two answers, 1) They are the descendants of Judah (close.. but no banana) 2) They are the descendants of Jacob, rescued by the God of Abraham from Egypt. There is never a third option. There is no third option.

The Jewish people are the living and breathing watermark of not only a collection of writings but also the promise of the King of the Universe given to a family that lived so many years ago it hurts my head to think about it. The Tanakh tells that story. It offers the script and the Jewish nation offer me the movie, in 4K and 3D.

Just like the land of Milk and Honey, the Jewish people are real, they are flesh and blood, tangible and here. The Tanakh is more than book, a book is just words on a series of pages, the Tanakh is a handbook of ‘answers’ to questions that we, as people, have about ‘how’ to live this life. I trust that the answers given are ‘true’ because I trust that the giver of those answers is ‘true’.

It strikes me as odd that originally I accepted the NT because I was told I needed Jesus. I was told to accept the conclusion and then I was sold the problem.

My faith now is so different.. so much more simple. I don’t have a conclusion to swallow. I have a life to live. I try to do a good job. I’m not forced to do believe. The Tanakh doesn’t tell me what to believe, it tells me what to do if I do. It’s about physical. It’s about here and now. It’s about life. ‘Real’ life.

5 thoughts on “How do you know it’s real?

Rabbi Stuart Federow

Here is my response to a very recent question on the same line, If we reject the NT as untrue, how can we maintain that the TaNaCH is, indeed, true?

Okay, now on a keyboard at home… But i will still try to make it short… So, what is the Logic behind seeing the TaNaCH as true? First what is ‘true?’ What does it mean that something is ‘True?’ Does it have to consist of nothing but facts to be true? Does something have to be historical, a part of history, to be true? I dont think so. Please, see the movie, Absence of Malice with Paul Newman and Sally Field. Something can be made up of facts and not be true, and something can be made up and be true. The Truth of the TaNaCH has to do with the history of the Jewish people and of our morality and ethics, and does not have to be made up of scientific facts, per se, like did Adam and Eve really, truly, exist, did they live in a Garden called Eden, etc. The truth of Gd’s story of Adam and Eve, as Jewish commentators have stated it, is that since we all are descended from the same man and woman, we are relatives, and should treat each other accordingly. But, logically, in the process of evolution, there had to be a first man and a first woman, and if we choose to call them Adam and Eve, who is to say we are wrong? The lessons of the TaNaCH is not to teach science or scientific history, or history except that of the Jews, but more than that, and using that history, to teach morals and ethics as Gd wants us to do. To do, not to believe. To act, not to have a faith in, except as it leads us to do them. Next point, i must make:: If the TaNaCH is not true in this sense, then we have no limits on our behavior. Let me explain:: Lets take the commandment, Thou Shalt Not Murder. If Gd did not write that, if Gd did not command that, then all we have is a statement written by a human being. There would be, therefore, nothing to stop some other human being from writing a book in which he wrote, Thou Shalt Murder. And no one could say one is better than the other, except in THAT person’s opinion. What is wrong with Murder if it is not Gd who says it is wrong, except to say that YOU, or a human being, does not like it? Individuals can change their mind, on a whim. One day they can say, Thou Shalt Not Murder, and the next day they can say, Thou Shalt Murder. And then they can use their reason and their intellect to justify it, and we even have a word for using our intellect in that way, its called a Rationalization! And if you were to tell me that societies can determine what is right and wrong, i would point out that societies can say that Thou Shalt Murder is right, and then go build gas chambers instead of hospitals. Austria voted to go Nazi. Does that make it right, moral, ethical, for Austrians, therefore, because they voted to go nazi? Human beings must posit that it is Gd, who is outside and above us, to tell us that Thou Shalt Not Murder, or all we have is just one human opinion over another human opinion, and who is to say which is right, except just another person’s human opinion? I think we must begin with the belief in the existence of Gd, or, as Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov and, that famous atheist Woody Allen BOTH wrote, Without Gd All Is Permitted-dostoevesky, and Without Gd Life Is A Cesspool-woody allen. So, we begin with Gd, telling us His truth, His morality, His ethics, and his Commandments as i said before. They are not given to us,to us Jews,as a ticket to heaven but rather as a way to make our lives better off in the here and now. Because Gd is not stupid, if there are benefits to doing Judaism, to doing what the Bible, what Gd, commands, then we are more likely to do them (my next book, by the way…Please Gd!). And in so doing them, we Jews become different and set apart, a light to the nations, a constant, evident reminder to the rest of the world that ‘Gd exists and Gd demands moral and ethical behavior from Gd’s creation,’ the raison d’etre of Gd choosing a Chosen People. That is what the TaNaCH is all about, that is why we have to give over to Gd’s TaNaCH an authority over us. And once we do that, once we give The TaNaCH that authority, everything else follows. SINCE the TaNaCH says, Every man dies for his own sin (deut 24:16), we reject Christianity. SINCE the TaNaCH says “For I Am Gd and not a man,” Hosea 11:9, we have to reject Christianity, and on and on and on. And if the TaNaCH is right, then the next obvious step is to become a part of the Jewish People, the PEOPLE to whom that TaNaCH was written about, to whom that TaNaCH was written for!!

Reply
    Vicki

    Thank you, Jason and Rabbi Federow. Chewing.

    Reply
Mary

Good thoughts Jason! When I went to your comment section I got rabbi Fedrows comment.

Both thought provoking. For me — the bottom line to truth is if something can be proven. You have challenged that. Especially The original Torah Pearls!! The view of the Torah from 3 different perspectives, esp Nehemia’s language skills and honesty.

I was in Israel in 2008-pre Torah observant! But that visit was the catalyst to my 180 degree change! Jason, you will be forever changed! Day soon come when I can return, I hope.

I totally agree about the peacefulness/ease in following the Torah. This is a better life!

Bottom line-I have chosen to believe in the G_D of Abraham. Proof ? Of its truth or non-truth? You r right Jason – it’s the people, the physics of our world.! It’s always someone’s choice, a life changing choice, but a choice nonetheless.

Reply
Ralph Darnill

Thank you I have been listening to Jono and got your website details. Do you have a podcast for further listening. salom

Reply
    JasonSB

    Thanks for popping over Ralph. You will find links to my various media at the top of the front page.. you can also search for ‘Spiritualbabies’ on iTunes, Podomatic and TuneIn Radio.. or just Google it 🙂

    Reply

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