Thursday, 23 February 2012
Question! About Belief . . .
Speaking of kiruv, when I discussed not believing in God with my Aish and NCSY reps, they often told me that Jews - and by Jews they meant Orthodox Jews - did not have to believe in God. That I could do all the other mitzvot, and belief would come later. I found the action first/belief second response manipulative. First of all, at least 10 of the 613 mitzvot invoke God directly. The centrality of God, and the importance of belief is pretty explicit. Second of all, why do the action if you don't believe? ("Why to bring you closer to God!" They'd answer!). Not to mention, the Aish/NCSY version of "action" is a pretty tall order for a secular Jew. It means a massive investment of time, a complete overhaul of lifestyle, and immersion into a new community. If things went according to plan, I would get married quick 'n early, have kids and then the investment ante would really go up. Stepping out would be far more difficult.
But maybe I was being too cynical. After all, as Kugel says, "Judaism is notoriously long on deeds and short on doctrine". So, here's the question:
Do Orthodox Jews halachically have to believe in God? And, if so, how important is this halacha/mitzvah?
*p.s. Just to be sure we are on the same page,I am not disputing that atheists can be Jews.