Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Hard Question

The bar/bat mitzvah students at Temple Micah each get a turn to ask the rabbi a question which becomes the subject of the rabbi’s sermon on the Shabbat morning when the student chants the Torah.  Some of those questions would pose a challenge to any rabbi.  Like last Saturday when the student’s question was “Why do we need religion?”

Our rabbi Esther had done her homework.  She quoted from Martin Buber’s “God in Search of Man” and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschl’s answers to man’s ultimate questions. 

But then she thought of what she might say to this question and realized that there is no one answer that is right for everyone because we are drawn to religion with different needs.  She suggested that the bar mitzvah boy should continue to ask the question, but in the form “What does religion do FOR ME?” 

She concluded with a wonderful thought-provoking quote from Rainer Maria Rilke in “Letters to a Young Poet”, written in 1903:

"...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

Life is filled with difficult questions which constantly ask us to think as we seek to answer them.


Blogger Merle Sneed said...

In the context of forming religion communities, the question of the existence of God is almost beside the point, it seems to me.

We form into communities to satisfy our need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Being human we assume the only thing bigger than us, must be God.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great question and well-matched answer. Esther's response will keep me thinking for a while. What does religion do for me?

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this post, and I've always loved Rilke's wisdom. Thanks for the reminder to this often-"edgy" person to exercise patience and to embrace discovery as part of my spiritual path! In a bit of synchronicity, I've really been relishing Mystery recently...



1:08 PM  

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