Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Learning from the Goyim - A Rant

Bumper Stickers
You're driving down the road, and pull up behind a black woman waiting for a light. There's a bumper sticker - at least one - on her car. It says, "I brake for rapture!" or "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." or "Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace." Maybe she's got all three on there!

Normally I don't think about it. This past week I did. I thought about the Christian community - particularly the Black Christian community, and it occurred to me that they've got something we've lost, for the most part. They're enthusiastic about their religion and their beliefs. And we, well we so often just do mitzvot because we have to; because it's ingrained. We all know, "Ivdu et Hashem b'Simcha", but yet we so often seem to forget that last word there. No wonder we have trouble inspiring our kids! We're not inspired ourselves!! Moreover, when we see someone who is inspired - you know, like new Ba'alei Teshuva - we think of it as just a little weird.

Prayer Mats
I remember walking in Manhattan - something I do very infrequently because I live in Baltimore, and because frankly, I hate NY - and seeing a Muslim taxi driver pull his cab over, take out his prayer mat, and start bowing toward Mecca, right in the middle of the sidewalk. No one bothered him, although he did get a few looks from the passers-by. Now maybe this was an unusal occurrence... but I've seen similar things in other places. Muslims, particularly Arab Muslims, have no qualms about their religious beliefs either. When it's time to pray, they just do.

And us, we try to dress so as not to stand out. We stand in phone booths when we're trying to daven Mincha (unless we're in a minyan), and pretend we're having phone conversations. We're embarrassed by our religious requirements, because they make us different - and we so don't want to be different.

But maybe
...just maybe... (alright, more than just maybe) we're wrong. Maybe this is something we should be making concerted efforts in our communities to address. Why should we be embarrassed by the trappings of our beliefs? Do we feel God is an imposition on our lives? (Maybe we do...) Why aren't we happy about God and our relationship with Him? What is our relationship with Him?

We taught Monotheism to the World. Now we need to study from our talmidim.

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