Are You A Good or Bad Jew?

In explaining Judaism (or for that matter any religion), many define it for themselves or for others in relation to the following two questions:

1. Do you believe or not believe (fill in the blank)?

2. Do you observe or not observe (fill in the blank)?

Based on the answers to these questions, individuals will determine our own and other people’s Judaism as either “good” or “bad.” Yet, these questions personify the myth of Judaism. They define only one aspect – faith – of an individual’s commitment to Jewish living.

Living Jewishly is much more multi-dimensional than a definition based solely on belief and observance. Judaism is a holistic pursuit with betterment in multiple avenues necessary to find shleimut (wholeness and completeness). Each component is instrumental. Yet, none of the aspects are more important than another and working exclusively with one at the expense of the others is detrimental to one’s Jewish life. These components include:

· Education: Nourish the need for intellectual stimulation

· Emotional: Be aware of your emotions and deal with stress

· Faith: Build a relationship with God, others and traditions

· Health: Manage your physical health and seek the necessary medical care

· Kinetic: Find ways to appreciate physical activity

· Love: Share experiences and support with those closest to you

· Nosh: Develop healthy eating habits and make positive food choices

· Rest: Recognize the weekly need to take down time

· Righteousness: Donate a portion of your earnings to those less fortunate

· Service: Make an impact in the world by performing acts of loving-kindness

· Work: Appreciate your strengths and those found within others

These pursuits form a circle of well-being. Living Jewishly is the constant drive towards balancing these various components – filling up that which is empty and sustaining that which is full. The first century Jewish philosopher, Philo expressed, “The body is the soul’s house. Shouldn’t we therefore take care of our house so that it doesn’t fall into ruin?” With daily work, patience and practice, our purpose is to complete the circle and with it find shleimut, wholeness in every aspect of life.

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