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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The beauty of the music

At the Lunch and Learn today (also called the Downtown Lunch Group) with Rabbi Ain and Rabbi Fellman, we ended up discussing Jewish education, especially how to balance learning the "rules" of Judaism and developing a spiritual connection to it (because the reading, on Passover, commented on the judgemental tenor of Judaism and someone in the group commented on that). Rabbi Ain asserted that it's like learning a piano piece - you have to practice and practice, even if it's boring, but then you get to the "beauty of the sonata." I had to disagree. Because obviously many Jewish kids are exposed to the piano lesson, but never develop a love of the music.

(My family is case in point. Leo, Lisa and I all experienced the same Jewish education, went to the same Hanukkah parties, the same community seders. But they both completely abandoned Judaism, Lisa for Christianity and Leo for atheism. I'm the only one who hears the sonata. What's the difference? I don't know.)

After my remark, Mark commented that learning the rules is still necessary and I said, necessary but not sufficient. I think that rabbis are still overemphasizing the rules rather than the spiritual connection, to the great detriment of the community. Rabbi Ain is of course correct that a lack of knowledge stifles many people's participation. But, on the other hand, it's painfully clear that learning the "rules" doesn't by definition create a connection. How to do both?



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