So… Pesach has brought me some really helpful clarity, but I have realised I still need to process some questions. I wrote to someone about it, and it helps to get my real question at this point into words. If anyone has insights, please share them with me.
I’m a bit confused about something, could you help if you have thoughts on it? It’s about what ‘belief’ means, in terms of certainty, and other things. I feel sure enough of Judaism to make it my ethical authority and invest my life and heart in its claims. But I actually feel much more sure of relationship with God, and some other aspects of the Jewish faith system, than I do of the claim that God gave the Torah as described, after the exodus through the sea.
In terms of percentages, I would say I feel in the high 90s sure that this nation’s experience of God (and that of others who’ve learnt from them, as in my own upbringing) really comes from Him and has been preserved by Him. But historically, in terms of if I jumped into a time machine and would find the exodus and Sinai events as described, I’d put it at more like 70% sure. I know this is a really unique claim to national revelation and that it has been preserved in scattered circumstances (as predicted, even), and that the beliefs were innovative to say the least. I also believe it is a huge thing that Israel would hold such a seriously important light and knowledge regarding how we belong to our Creator alone, and how to be devoted to Him. But I did my undergrad in medieval studies so my mind is trained to be aware of uncertainty about theories.
In terms of the investment I have no question. In terms of my declarations, though, I do. Average the 70% and the 97%…is that a high enough level of knowledge to declare in prayer to God “thank you for doing this; you did this; etc.”; or to tell the stories to my children (if I have any) as history with conviction, rather than just stories from a source that I think has the most valid stories?
This is really different from my questions about Christianity because I personally believe they are based on ‘reasons against’ rather than ‘doubts about’. But really, my question transcends that discussion… it is, I know how to make practical decisions even despite limited historical knowledge, but what about peace of mind and honesty in our tongues’ declarations, before God and before children? Is it better to just stick with what we do know more clearly, even though it can mean hesitating from precious and ‘pretty sure’ knowledge?
I hope that makes sense 🙂
[I think the two main questions I’m holding onto are…
1. As there’s a difference between the moderate certainty I feel that the revelation events happened, and the high amount that I feel the faith system is inspired and preserved and true…. what’s wrong with my measurement?
2. And as long as that’s the case, I just have to wonder if a person who has ‘more doubt than none’ can declare things as beliefs, in the contexts of prayer and of teaching children… if they are at least sure enough to invest their lives in the belief… but still feel that other historical/spiritual possibilities aren’t ruled out.]