Much human misery is the result of people betraying themselves by adopting artificial personae. They are so anxious to impress or blend in with others that they lose their own selves in the process. Even worse, they come to believe that they actually are what their masks portray them to be. For them, falsehood becomes truth. They no longer have the ability to distinguish between who they are and who they are pretending to be.
Angel for Shabbat
Are our rabbis and synagogues mission-directed, or only function-directed? This is a question we ignore at our own spiritual peril.
Our goals should be to strive for genuine truth and to make the best decisions. We are more apt to achieve these goals if we think calmly and carefully, if we try to factor in all relevant information...and if we do not allow ourselves to be swept up by the fears, anxieties and judgments of others--even if they are the majority.
It is natural and normal for people to have different outlooks and to approach life from different moral matrices. But when we assume that all truth and righteousness is on our side, and that there is no truth or righteousness on the other side—then we enter into hostile relationships that are destructive to the overall fabric of society.
Orthodoxy needs to foster the love of truth. It must be alive to different intellectual currents, and receptive to open discussion. How do we, as a modern Orthodox community, combat the tendency toward blind authoritarianism and obscurantism?
The Torah uses three verbs to urge us to follow the mitzvoth: walk, keep, do. The emphasis is on action. It has been pointed out that the word for Jewish law is halakha, which means the path on which we should walk. Walking entails movement, not stagnating.
To grow as truthful human beings, we must avoid trying to pass ourselves off for something we are not. Occupation "inflation" does not make us greater, but lesser. Puffed up egos do not make us more important, but less worthy.
Is it really possible to love one’s neighbor as oneself? In some special cases, the answer is yes. But in many cases, it would seem to be unlikely, if not impossible, to love others as oneself—especially if they are unlovable!
The Pessah festival is a time of celebration of the Israelites' redemption from their servitude in Egypt. But as we commemorate the miraculous freedom from physical bondage, we must understand that the festival is also devoted to our spiritual re-awakening. Each of us has his and her individual song, the underlying melody which imbues our lives with meaning.
The hope for religion is the growth of religious institutions that actually take their parishioners seriously, that don’t insult their intelligence, that speak to their spiritual needs. Educated people are not—or should not be—looking for a religion that depends on ignorance and subservience, or that fosters superstitious beliefs and practices.