Before the whole Mom drama happened, I was participating quite successfully in NaBloPoMo and asked you nice folks to suggest topics you wanted to hear about. Poor (no blog) Mindy must have thought I forgot about her.
I didn’t forget, Mindy, I just needed more than 2 brain cells to answer your emailed question. Well, I don’t have two brain cells, but I have two minutes to myself, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Mindy wanted to know more about Judaism. Hmmm. Well… um… here goes…
I guess the easy answer to comparing Judaism and Christianity is the whole Old Testament / New Testament thing. You guys have a new one, and we don’t. See? Piece of cake!
But that, of course, is too simple.
I found an explanation in a book several years ago that really crystallizes it nicely. Stay with me here.
“There is a commonality to the motivation of Jews and Christians to love and obey G-d: salvation. There are differences in the perspective of how and what the salvation entails. Both Jews and Christians see G-d as “Savior”. For Jews, that saving grace is our survival in spite of external oppression and enemies. For Christians, that saving grace is Christ’s sacrifice to save each Christian’s soul from its own inner tendency toward sin. In the Christian view, the world is redeemed as each individual’s soul is saved through Jesus Christ. In the Jewish view, we are redeeming the world by our own efforts.”
(Which is why for the life of me I don’t understand why the majority of Jews vote democrat. But that’s another post altogether.)
There is also a difference in how we view “The Big Plan” – or the difference between Pre-Destined and Pre-Determined. Christians are largely taught that G-d has a plan and whatever His will is, will be. Jews are taught that there is, indeed, a plan that G-d has for people and that, if you lead a life based on the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Torah (the five books of Moses – our holiest writings), your life will follow that great plan.
But, G-d has only laid out the world. It is up to us to lead our lives and make decisions. In this sense, our life only follows “His plan” if we make the right decisions. His hand in our life is different than in the Christian faith. G-d created a wonderous world and gave us the rules and path for the best life possible. But it’s up to us to make it happen. It is our responsibility and accountability. I cannot hand over my decisions or their consequences to G-d. He is more parent than pilot in that way.
It is very hard to be Jewish. This religion asks a lot. It is very clear on when to forgive, how to repent, how to judge – in fact we are commanded to judge for the sake of the community – something the Christian faiths wrestle with and often teach is a bad thing. But it is also a very rewarding way to live. We feel a great responsibility for the world – possibly because throughout history there have been so many that wanted us gone. And some took one hell of a stab at it.
I believe that Jews and Christians can live in a world and do good things together. I believe we share many common beliefs. But, as mentioned above, the way we view the world and how we live in it are very different. This is why I don’t understand interfaith marriages and the decision to “raise the kids with both faiths”. It is, quite frankly, impossible. And it is, unfortunately, diluting both religions and doing a disservice to the children in generations to come.
And so, there you have it. Cliff Notes Judaism from the mind and perspective of Pammer. As with any religion, there are varying degrees of observance, but that is a topic for another post. I hope this helps, Mindy. And thanks for making me think a little. Even if it didn’t help this no-sleep induced headache.