When the world asks a Jew to describe why they believe God gave the Torah, the deepest reason is embedded at the heart of the nation itself: in his or her soul. How can we ask a person (even one who examines their own subjectivity with honesty and eyes on reality) to describe in words to us something that can’t be separated from the very essence of their soul by any descriptions, so that we can know the same reality?

Sometimes it is possible to find words that dance along and illuminate a surface for which there are no words.

When I turn my eyes away from the people Israel, and keep searching for truth, the way they have spoken about our Creator as the one unwavering rock stays with me. Then when I look back at the way Jews have held exactly that message, in such a way… that to me affirms something about the nation. Look at the carefulness with which the pillars of this understanding have been held to and cherished by generations of Jews throughout known history. Look at the insight and wellspring of ingenuity and life that they hold, not part of the nations, but knowing those nations as well as they know themselves and also running on a separate track with a strong life force that stays real even in dispersion. Parent to child, teacher to student. It is a tree of life to those who cling to it.

And if the scholars of natural science and ancient history apprehended some of these realities, they in their brilliance would be reading the same pieces of evidence in quite a different way. True that each little piece should be looked at specifically, among the whole, but the whole may be much bigger than most people are seeing in our universities.

So every mitzvah, every word of prayer, every Jewish holiday and testimonial observance, every line of speech or writing within Yiddishkeit, is less something to appraise and more something to connect through. Appraisal has to be a part of our honesty, but finding this substance is also innately an end point for our yearning. What to say about that?

I’m so thankful to have been taught to respect the Jewish people and faith to this depth, and to look through and beyond them to the one who made all of us.


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