Archives for March 2014

7 Story Matters

STORY MATTERSIf we can say nothing about God that is not a reflection of our own story—personal, tribal, etc.—why speak about God at all? I suspect the answer is this: speaking of God for many of us is the way we speak of meaning making. I know that is true of me. My theological narrative is constructed out of the stories, both religious and scientific, that give my life meaning.Story is the way we humans make sense out of the world, and the sense we make shapes our thoughts, feelings, an … [Read more...]

6 The God that can be Storied is not the Real God

When talking about God, something I shouldn’t do and yet cannot help doing, we have to make a distinction between God as an ontological reality—God as God actually is if there is such a thing as God at all—and God as a narrative construct: the God of our story. Let me make this clear: Torah’s God is a character in a story whose purpose is to sanction the worldview of the Jews who tell that story. This doesn’t mean there is no God, only that we should not mistake talk about God with God.All Go … [Read more...]

5 Our Endangered Species

Today we Jews are dying, and have been for a long time. Our enemies kill us, often millions of us, but never all of us. Only we can do that, and we are. We are killing ourselves by failing to tell our children our story, and failing to teach our children how to misread our story in order to retell it fresh for themselves and their children. We are no longer raising generations of storytellers. We have become simulacra, replicas of a past that is itself a fiction.We have borrowed the language … [Read more...]

4 Two Jews, Three Opinions

We Jews love to argue. We argue with ourselves, with one another, and even with God. We value argument over faith, and doubt over belief. Ours is a tribe of inquiry. When we argue over our story we never ask, "What does it mean?" Instead we ask, "What could it mean?" And as soon as one of us tells us what it could mean, another of us asks, "What else could it mean?" For us misreading Torah in order to yield ever–more meanings is the deepest spiritual practice, one that ignites the imagination a … [Read more...]

3 Nurturing Our Story

NURTURING OUR STORYNurturing our story is not the same as reading it annually, which we also do. Nurturing our story is reinterpreting it daily. But we go beyond reinterpreting and embrace misreading as a way of reimagining the story herself. My nurturing of our story led me to become a rabbi so that I could learn the tools for misreading our story (more on this later) and in so doing imagine new ways to live the story as well.All rabbis do this to one degree or another, though most of … [Read more...]

2 Faith in Story

Our faith isn’t in creed, dogma, or belief; our faith is in story: the power of story to change lives, and the human potential to embody our particular story and bring about its promised end. It is our story that defines us, and we who define our story. Like lovers whose intimacy leaves them vulnerable to each other’s sorrows and joys, we Jews embrace and are embraced by our story.It isn’t that we believe in the story, but that we believe in the power of the reader to invent new meanings from … [Read more...]

1. A Tribe of Storytellers

Jews are a tribe. Like all tribes you either are born into it, marry into it, or get adopted by it (we call this conversion). Our tribe is made up of many races and ethnicities; we speak many languages, some of which we borrow from the countries in which we have lived or currently live, and some we make up, blending our mother tongue, Hebrew, with Spanish, Arabic, and German, to name but three. We call these languages Ladino, Judeo–Arabic, and Yiddish, respectively. In the same way we create d … [Read more...]

This Blog is Dead. Long Live this Blog!

This blog was supposed to be a clear and simple statement of my understanding of Judaism. It has morphed into something complicated and confusing. I think the numbering of paragraphs has something to do with this, but it is more than that. The problem is that I was trying to impress myself with my own brilliance. I wasn't writing for you but for the ages. Very narcissistic. Very silly. And very exhausting. I started to dread writing each post. I have enough things I dread, and have no need to … [Read more...]