Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Metaphysical Crossroads

It seems I’ve reached a religious crossroads. Though I was never one to abide by tedious law or hold dear the intricacies of our sages’ teachings, I was once eager to investigate Judaism. I did so in a “secular” manner, analyzing Jewish philosophy and seeking knowledge through historical accounts as opposed to Bible verses and Talmud tractates. I had a unique love affair with Judaism - its historical trajectory, underlying principles, and its unlikely survival throughout the ages.

I can’t say exactly when, but it seems our affair has collapsed, continuously disintegrating as I take each successive step away from my religious roots. 

There was once a time when prayer afforded me the opportunity to tango with God. Just the two of us, our own dimly lit room, and a passion reserved for the metaphysical. Now, though, the thought of prayer elicits scoffs of condescension, as though I feel I’m above something so expired. 

There was once a time when God’s existence was as true as my own two hands. Though there was no substance to which I could attribute His being, I knew - I just knew - that tangibility was irrelevant in determining His existence. He was an absolute. Now, though, I lose battles with logic, incapable of understanding how the fable of earth’s flatness has been written off as preposterous, yet a concept so primitive as an almighty being to whom we are obliged to expose our full selves is so readily accepted.  

There was a time when God was my best friend, a confidant of sorts. In moments of vulnerability or incapacitation, I felt an ineffable draw to Him. He provided assurance, unconditional support, authentic love. Now, though, I look elsewhere for consolation, a mark of my crumbling relationship and fleeting trust. 

The dust builds atop my Tefillin bag. The bookmark of my Chumash has rested between the same two pages for months, perhaps even a year. My Siddur feels the pain of neglect. My yarmulkas have escaped me - only they know where they lay. Will I ever go back? 

I am not unique in my arrival at this crossroads. I’ve been told stories of drifters who, triumphantly, found their way back. I, too, have been told stories of drifters who find themselves too far and too mindless to retrace their path. Which will I become?

God must be observing my regression, shaking His head in disappointment at the food I ate on what was to be my day of simple atonement. He must be hoping that I've traced my steps on the drifter’s path. He must be angry. He must be sad. He must be heartbroken and feel betrayed. But is He there? 

But does it matter? 

Perhaps He is a construct, a primitive and outdated idea. Perhaps He has survived because of His power to save. Perhaps we devote our lives to gaining His approval, but He is nothing but a figment of our imaginations - a twisted form of wishful thinking. 

But does it matter? 

You may search every forest, every valley, every crevice in hopes of finding Him, but you never will. Despite that, He has given my people a culture - a livelihood - that makes the validation of his existence irrelevant. He has guided us, He has taught us, and He has saved us. He has graced us the privilege of feeling attached to a peoplehood. The form He takes, if any, means little when considering His achievements. His legend may be all that He is. 

He may be a construct, a figment of our vivid fantasies, but to debate this is futile. By changing the world in the way He has, even if proven to be nothing more than an idea, “He” has become God. 

So why doesn't He matter?