While on vacation last week I did a great deal of reading, in the midst of a number of new books, I took the time to come back to one of my all time favorites, God Was Not in the Fire by Rabbi Daniel Gordis. This is one of those books that helps give me purpose, every page makes me think and whenever I read it, at all different stages in my life, I respond differently that I have before.
I read it for the first time when I was in the process of applying to rabbinical school. The book spoke to me on a number of different levels, most notably that I was unsure of my belief in God. How often does one talk about God, in someways I knew what I believed but lacked the language to explain it to anyone else. Gordis gave me permission to feel the way I did and more important to realize that the beauty of Judaism is that you can live a deeply religious and spiritual life while having doubts.
One of the questions I get asked a great deal, is whether one must believe in God in order to be a committed Jew. Gordis writes eloquently on the topic explaining that “Judaism, more than any other religious tradition, does not see skeptics as second-class citizens”. He further explains that “uncertainty is not the enemy of religious and spiritual growth. Doubt is what fuels the journey”.
Can you imagine what would happen if went around the room on Rosh Hashanah and asked every person if they believe in God. We would get a hundreds of different answers and that is the point. Judaism does not have, nor will it ever have a litmus test for entry. The wisdom of our tradition speaks to everyone regardless of whether you are the believer or the skeptic.
If you would like to read the book together and discuss, let me know!