by Orah Friedland Zipper (Denver, CO)
I received a comment from “Anonymous” on my previous post (http://lady-light.blogspot.com/2009/12/archeological-find-proves-ancient.html), which was about the archeological find of a 2000+ year old cave from the time of the Hasmoneans. The commenter asked why that could be a reason to become a religious Jew. Good question. To the average non-Jewish person, perhaps, the find might be interesting in a general way; to an archaeologist or historian, it would be interesting as a historical find which would validate and increase our knowledge of the past.
For a Jew, however, such a find as this means so much more.
Look at it this way: we live today in the “Information Age,” right? We are bombarded with information and have been for years, through the media–through radio, television and newspapers, and in our high-technology era on the Internet through virtual news sites, blogs and now social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. How can we assimilate all this? How do we know what is truth and what is fiction? And, for that matter, how can we know how to behave, in general, and how to react to events?
Now, we Jews have been blessed with a ‘code book’ which we’ve had for thousands of years, which tells us how to act, and tells us why we are here on this Earth. This book is called the Torah. It consists of the Written and the Oral Law, as well as the history of our people.
In our ‘modern’ times, however, people are constantly questioning and arguing religion versus science. Which one offers the real explanation for the existence of the world? Now to me, there is very little contradiction between science and religion–they are one. Both science and the Torah are a means of explaining the truth of existence. The more we learn things through scientific study (think ‘Big Bang’ and ‘Quantum Theory’), the more we understand about the nature of G-d (can you tell I’m reading Gerald Schroeder’s books?), and the more it seems to (yikes!) match the depiction of G-d as written in the Torah.
But you’d never know it by listening, reading or watching debates on which one, science or religion, is “correct.” This can–coupled with global anti-Semitism towards Jews and Israel, (which according to many can ‘do no right’ in this world)– really confuse one, especially someone who might be searching for the meaning of his existence. Doubts abound. Are any of the religions valid? Maybe Judaism is no more valid than any other major religion?
And then, a Jew goes to the kotel and has a “spiritual experience.” Or a Jew goes to a grave of one of our Tzaddikim, prays before the grave, and is greatly moved–by something—what? Or he visits and walks around, say, Emek ha-Elah, where the future King David, as a young boy slew the giant Goliath, and he (the visitor) is in awe, and his soul is stirred.
Or, a secular Jew, who went through life without a strong connection to his Jewishness, unearths a two-thousand-year-old cave while digging out his basement, which he discovers is the burial place of the last Hasmonean king. Furthermore, the cave has an inscription on the wall in his people’s alt-neu language, the language in which his Torah was written, and which was revived in the twentieth century as a spoken language.
Is that not awesome? Is that not enough of a spiritual experience to touch one’s neshama? Is that not enough that it says to that Jew, ‘evidence of your history in your historical homeland is before your eyes being unearthed and is unfolding, bit by bit, and proving that history true. Jew: Is it not time to return?–to return to your Jewish roots?’
If that is not enough of an experience for one’s neshama to do teshuva, I don’t know what is.
Orah Friedland Zipper, a former Hebrew/Judaic Studies educator currently living in Colorado has also worked in various incarnations as translator/transliterator, administrative assistant, test evaluator and team trainer, as well as website writer/editor. She currently teaches Hebrew privately to adults, writes and is an avid blogger. Her blog, Tikkun Olam, can be found at http://www.lady-light.blogspot.com, where this article was first published. In addition, she is also the proud mother of five grown children, bracketed by her eldest daughter, a successful new product inventor and entrepreneur, and her youngest daughter, recently discharged from active duty in the IDF as a Commander in the Combat Engineering Corps.
Three of her children live in Israel , and she has six grandchildren. She sings soprano, too!