Thursday, April 02, 2009

Judaism, guilt, and pizza

I'm taking a wonderful class on prayer at my synagogue (shout out to my prayer class classmates and Rabbi B!) and we are all wrestling with some of the traditional prayers, including the teacher. Today, we got into a discussion about how some of the prayers make us feel guilty that we aren't doing more: keeping more kosher, doing more of the mitzvot (commandments), keeping Shabbat more or better, etc. This is something I've been wrestling with myself for years.

Our teacher pointed out that while he, also, felt guilty sometimes, he thought that feeling that "tug," call it guilt, call it G-d, call it what-have-you, is a good thing. It makes you want to do better, to do more Judaism.

This made me think about something completely unrelated that happened a month or 2 ago. I was having lunch with some co-workers, and one of the items that had been ordered from the pizza shop was Gorgonzola and steak pizza. I had to laugh at the combination, and they all looked at me quizzically. I said something to the effect of: "well, it's not very kosher." And they all looked at me. I realized, then, that "regular" non-Jewish Americans don't spend all their lives looking at food and thinking: I can eat this, but I can't eat that, and I really shouldn't eat that. They just looked at the pizza and I looked at it and saw a kashrut problem. True, I don't keep kosher, but I still recognized it as something non-kosher. I felt "the tug."

Somehow, that incident was very enlightening to me. When you are Jewish, you have a reaction to things in the world: a Jewish reaction. Even if you don't keep all the mitzvot, you still react in certain situations in a Jewish way. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure. I know I've spent a great deal of energy feeling that "tug." The question is: what do I do about it?


Tzipporah said...

Oh yeah, the pizza. And plenty of other things on the menu.

Anonymous said...

Great points, Adena. You took the class one more step, to real life! By the way, the pizza thing, it's also the way people who are battling weight feel: you never just see pizza, it's a constant tug to eat the right/light thing!

Kibbitz said...

I find that struggle disconcerting when I can't commit to doing the right thing Jewishly even when the tug says DO IT!.

You described it perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I like your "pizza story"; I can certainly relate too!