A fully realized faith is dead.

Spending three hours reading from a Jewish Prayer Book might not be how most young Christians want to spend their Friday nights, but that’s where I found myself tonight. Yom Kippur began at sundown this evening, and an old co-worker of mine invited me to the Shabbat services to see what a High Holiday observance looks like. This might seem like a weird invite from an acquaintance, but Katie and I have never had a typical relationship. After knowing me for three weeks, and being randomly assigned as my ‘secret santa’ around Christmastime, her surprise present was a book entitled The Jewish Book of Why,  which she tells me is a staple in conservative homes. This pleased me, and not just for the delicious irony of a Jewish woman participating in a santa game and giving a Christian woman a book about Judaism for said game. Also, though, because she knew quickly that I was caught up with religions, fascinated with why large groups of people choose to ascribe to their traditions, especially in an era where knowledge about others is prevalent. 

The Rabbi began tonight, after the initial reading of the Torah, saying “Let’s begin…we’ve got a lot of talking to God to do tonight.” Ninety pages in the prayer book and several long-held notes by the Cantor later, he spoke about faith. In his talk (I’m sure there’s a Hebrew word for it, but basically it’s comparable to a sermon), he broached the issue of the ebb and flow of faith. Faith, he said, is not ever a static place and if it has become fully realized, it is dead. He talked of doubting God, he especially pointed out that doubting God is not only inevitable, but quintessentially Jewish and at the core of their traditions, and that it is no more a part of the Jewish faith than reading the Torah is a part of the faith. 

If you know me, you know it’s rare that I experience a religious moment in another faith without wanting to step into that tradition. Tonight, however, perhaps for the first time in four or five years, I didn’t. Though we chanted a really rhythmic section and I felt the pull then. Somehow, Christianity has nestled itself back into my being, and I no longer feel a gaping hole that I try to fill with other religions. I’m sure it’s some sort of combination of both the fact that I am more involved in Christianity than I have been recently and the fact that I am less attached to Christianity than I have been for years. While I still value and hold dear some tenets of the faith, I have resolved that there are things that other religions and faiths do in a more Godly way. Whatever the reason, it’s a good feeling not to be so easily fulfilled by the different, and I’m glad that my journey of faith has lead me to where I am at the moment and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next. 

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