To be anchored in the present, one must be attached to something. We need to hold on to a buoy to keep us afloat in chaotic times. This can take many forms, like mindfulness practice, prayer, study, or exercise. Each have their place and something to offer to the human body and soul.
In facing this, we ask ourselves, am I being true to myself and who I want to be? As a rabbi, I know that I encounter the Imposter Syndrome that many of us feel, walking through our days wondering if we will be found out. This feeling is real and it is, in part, due to the lack of anchor.
This is why we should take our Jewish literacy seriously.
No, I don’t think you have to become fully observant.
No, I don’t think Judaism is the only path.
No, I don’t think there are “bad Jews”.
We are all on a journey, a complex, fraught, challenging path to find who we are and what we should be doing. Understanding your Jewish heritage, by exploring the depths of Jewish wisdom, law, philosophy, and daily teachings, is a way to become grounded.
The exploration honors your history and your family, it is personal and external, and it is real and it is hard.
There is no greater courage required than saying you don’t know before those whom you respect. Yet to step forward, declare “I want more than this” is a singularly liberating force.
Jewish literacy provides a foundation in which to choose a Jewish path that is right for each us. Without it, we blindly repeat truths we once found meaningful, stating once again, after so many years, I’m fulfilled already. To seek knowledge is to recognize that we do not know everything. To seek Jewish literacy is to recognize that this ancient yet modern civilization has something still meaningful to say.
Every day is an opportunity. There is no need to rush. Take today as your day one.
Don’t know where to start?