Today I read a mashal (parable) from Rebbe Nachman. He says like this:
Once, an important trader was traveling with a consignment of fine Hungarian wine. During the journey his assistant and the carriage driver said to him, “Here we are, traveling with all this wine. It’s a very hard journey – give us a little taste of the wine.” He agreed to let them have a small taste.
A few days later, the assistant happened to be in a small town with some people who were drinking wine and praising it extravagantly. They said it was Hungarian. “Let me have a taste,” said the assistant. They gave him some, and he said, “This isn’t fine Hungarian wine at all!” They were most offended and told him to leave, but he insisted: “I know very well that this wine isn’t Hungarian, because I was with a wine merchant who had genuine Hungarian wine and he gave me some to try. I know what it really tastes like.” But they ignored him. Read More
For the last couple days, I’ve been curious to understand who Jesus was since I know now that he is not the messiah. The picture isn’t pretty, but it was one that I needed to see. Why? Perhaps I wanted some sense of closure to the past eight years of my life.
As I was researching, I remembered the initial charisma that I attributed to Jesus and the compassion with which it seemed he had toward me; the feeling that I mattered to him; that he cared about me and that he could save me from my lost and sinful nature. Today I see that Jesus was just a man who had some good ideas about righteousness and holy living. He was a teacher who maybe thought that he was the Messiah or maybe he imagined that he was just a prophet, or perhaps he thought he was just being a good Jew, like his cousin John the Baptist–we can’t really know because of the overlay the Church put on him over the years. But what I do know is the man Jesus did not think of himself as the god-man and redeemer that the church elevated him to after he died. Read More
My wife and I met with a rabbi tonight from Chabad. He had questions and we had questions. Between the three of us there were a lot of answers; and more questions.
After a brief overview of our former religious backgrounds, he asked me to consider the Noachide path instead of converting. I’m really glad he did because I was able to talk out loud with another person about my strong desire to be Jewish, to be counted among Israel (for better and for worse) and to observe the commandments according to the Sages. Explaining my motivations to him helped make me feel all the more solid about what we’re doing.
So I’ve found my new, living, Orthodox Jewish, intellectual hero: Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb. He has his Ph.D. in mathematical logic, was Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, and is a senior faculty member at Ohr Somayachin Jerusalem.
Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb
What turned me on to him? Simply because he wrote a paper entitled Coming Home and in it he said: “Teshuva is the greatest creative challenge a person will ever face: the challenge of recreating oneself. A person’s whole past – talents, training, experience, successes and failures – provides the materials from which his new identity will be forged. He does not turn his back on his past, but organizes it to fulfill its potential in a new way. It is a denial of Providence to regard any of his “unplanned” prior life as a loss. Everything which happened to him was planned so that he could fulfill his unique human potential and make his unique contribution (see Luzzatto’s Derech Hashem, Part II, Chapter 3). Later, he will see how his seemingly pointless past gave him the tools for his religious future.” These words of course are a great inspiration to me as I am definitely in the process of recreating myself.