I posted this on Facebook:
How do you judge “value”? Is it monetary, social, personal…? And if value judgements are based on different scales then how do you make comparisons? And then, do I judge myself based upon my own standards, by how I think other people see me, or what I think my place in the social stratum is or should be…?
Like I said before, I’m going to stop worrying about stuff like that and do what I want.
I was talking about my place in society, not the existence of G-d or the “correct” religion. But a friend of mine, a good fellow, a Christian big on compassion, said “For me it’s easy. I follow the Word of God.” Simple, end of story, no more thinking.
I wonder though. The Christians did not invent compassion. One might even say the teachings of Jesus are a Midrash of Jewish text. But perhaps even the Jews did not invent compassion. Mankind is millions of years old. I seriously wonder if these words of compassion are not as human as they are Divine, as if Divine simply represents the best which is inside us and the best of human interactions and relationships. G-d – the Creator of the universe, the Maintainer of reality, the Source of consciousness and imagination and existence – has to be bigger than genetic and cultural divisions. Perhaps these qualities of compassion can be found in all human traditions. And then to say “I know. This is It.” is just very presumptuous.
Considering where I come from and where I find myself now I think it would be wrong of me to say I have answers. I mean I have looked at ethics and metaphysics and science. They are complicated issues, too complicated to say “I believe blindly!” and the Jewish tradition, and other traditions, have looked deeply into these things. From what I am reading in Jewish tradition it says there are no answers, that the search is an ongoing process.
“He (R. Tarfon) also used to say, It is not thy obligation to complete the task, nevertheless though art not at liberty to desist therefrom…”
Book Nezikin, Pirke Avoth (Ethics of the Fathers), Chapter 2, Mishnah 16. Philip Blackman, Judaica Press, 1963
I read this as “Study is a lifelong process and there are no final answers.” And this is the way it should be. There is thousands of years of material in the Jewish tradition, and study just leads to more questions Just as life continues, as living is a state of being that must be maintained through action, Love and Compassion are ongoing processes as well. In life, service to man and G-d is an ongoing process. We should never stop and say, I have done enough. As long as we live we will grow and learn and change.
If someone says “I have the answer!” I would be sceptical. I don’t even know what the question is. But I continue to search