Correction to the Previous before Last Post


Okay, okay! I admit it. I got it WRONG! Yes, on electricity in the Conservative movement. No, on cooking in the Conservative movement. Oy ya yoy ya yoy!

To put this into context a little bit, I was curious on the Conservative movements position (or really, my rabbi's position) on using a glucose meter on Shabbat. From there, our conversation widened as he got more information from me.

I really do wonder about my brain--I don't know how I mixed cooking into the electricity issue! And then, wrongly stated that the Conservative movement believes cooking is permitted on Shabbat. I am good at everything I do--including screwing up! :)

Cooking is a category of work that cannot be done on Shabbat. This includes boiling water and some forms of heating.

My dilemma in all of this was the WHY for me, personally. Am I not cooking/wanting to not cook because I feel commanded not to, because I want to follow halacha, because Torah says not to, because it makes me feel better, because I find it meaningful, to make the week different from Shabbat, to gain some deeper insight or meaning for Shabbat, because that is tradition and it connects me to those before me?

Does it matter why as long as I do it? Or does why matter a lot?

Then there is the whole other side of it. My Jewish friends already think I am too observant and fanatical. My non-Jewish friends don't get the ritual aspect of Judaism and I secretly suspect that they think it is all a big OCD fest. Should that play any role or reality check for me?

Still, I have a drive for these rituals, a desire to fulfill them. I find ritual highly meaningful, and I enjoy the benefits and challenges they bring. I love going to the mikvah. It is by far my favorite ritual right now. I don't mind going beyond what the Conservative movement requires. I like keeping heckscher symbol kosher even though the CM allows ingredient kosher. I don't think it is okay to drive on Shabbat even though we currently do drive on Shabbat to shul (or Friday night dinner to welcome the Sabbath). I don't use the phone, computer or TV about 98% of the time. (I'm not perfect--I try.) I desire to be Shomer Shabbos. I am sorry, but I do. It makes sense to me.

However, I am not there yet. My family is not there yet. And I am exploring (at the inadvertent prompting of my rabbi) the whole WHY and WHAT of it. It is overdue, really. But I do need to sort it out...find my way...quit feeling guilty about it...and move in the direction I feel I should be.

Do you know, though...the answers to the question in red? What is your take? I would enjoy opening a conversation about this...getting feedback and perspective.


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Jay Englander said…
The traditional reason for halacha is an overriding desire by the rabbis to help people to do what G-d expects from them and to avoid making mistakes in their actions. Ritual is an offshoot of this concern, with the additional aspect that it acts to separate us from people who don't observe as we do and binds us closer to those who do. This was also a goal of the rabbis: for example, they defined ritual practice on purpose to make it much more difficult to live in a neighborhood that is not majority Jewish or without a synagogue nearby [see eruv chazerot, found items, et al as examples].

I follow rituals that help me to be a better person, that make me feel better about myself, and that help me to exist within my community. The question comes when you run into situations where rituals separate you from the people you want to be with.

Just some thoughts for the new year. Shana Tova.