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Archive for November, 2013

A couple of months ago, I was talking to my nephew and he told me he was a Jew.
I asked if he had ever been to a synagogue.  No.  I asked if he had ever read the Torah or the Talmud.  No.  I asked if he had ever read the complete Old Testament from the Bible.  No.  I asked if he had ever spoken to a Rabbi about the Jewish faith.  No.
After chuckling, I asked him why he thought he was Jewish.  He advised me that Jesus was Jewish and he was a follower of Jesus, so he was Jewish, too.  Needless to say (after another chuckle), I advised him that declaring yourself to be of a certain faith does not “make” you a member of that faith if you do nothing else to demonstrate your beliefs.
Later, though, it occurred to me that I know almost nothing about the Jewish faith either.  Yes, I’ve read some of the Old Testament, but I’ve never read any of the Torah and would not be able to tell you the first thing about any differences between it and the Old Testament.  So, when I was visiting my local second hand book shop and I stumbled upon a copy of a book which professed to be an “everymans” guide to orthodox Judaism, I picked it up and added it to the reading list.  As it happens, I rested the book close to my computer and it “called” to me repeatedly – so I bumped it up the list.  I finished it last week and the rest of this posting is my review…
The book is titled: “This Is My God” (1988©), and was written by Herman Wouk.  The book was originally published back in 1959, but this is a republishing with a chapter update about Israel (the nation-state).  Mr. Wouk wrote the book because a friend came up to him and said his son knew next to nothing about Judaism and the friend knew Wouk to be a practicing Jew and could he recommend a good “starter” book for him to give to his son with the hope the son might gain some appreciation for their heritage.
Now Wouk admits to not being a Rabbi (a teacher of the Torah) and could not think of (or find) such a book – even after asking around himself – so he decided to write one.  After about a year or so of intense research, he did.  And this book is the result of Wouk’s effort.
I have not read any of Wouk’s other works, but he is a terrific writer!  The book is obviously a very simplistic introduction to Judaism.  That does not mean it is not worth reading.  It merely recognize’s there are whole libraries devoted to the various aspects of Judaism and anything other than an overview would have taken many, many volumes.  Having said this, I felt reading this book was an insightful introduction to this faith upon which my own was based.  Indeed, it is the faith on which both Christianity and Islam are based.  All three faiths are the “children” of Abraham.
Although I don’t usually attribute such sentiments to books, this book has been a blessing to my own personal faith.  (I am a practicing Roman Catholic.)  Wouk’s words are kind and wise, yet humble and moving.  And most of all, they are educational.  There were several times I said to myself, “Wow! I never knew that!” or “So that’s why…”
Two quick examples are: there is no requirement for a person to be a Jew to enter Heaven.  One only needs to live a good life to be judged worthy of Heaven.  And second, not all the stories in the Bible are about Jews.  Some “holy” men are not Jews at all.  Job for example.  This was a real “Wow!” moment for me as I’d always just assumed Job was Hebrew.  Wouk explains why this is not so, but I still could hardly believe it so I had to do some additional research on the internet.  As near as I can tell, there is no proof he (Job) existed let alone that he was Jewish.  Like I said, the book is full of little “gems” to help you explore your faith (if you are a Christian).
The book is a fast read at only a little over two hundred and eighty pages and is so well written it doesn’t even feel that long.  There is a fifty page “Notes” area which has clarifications and recommendations for further readings and an eight page Glossary at the very end.
So, final recommendation:  Highly recommended!  You will, of course, see several quotes from this book over the next few months as I try to share some of Wouk’s writing with you…
So I called up my nephew to thank him for “prompting” me to learn about Judaism as the basis of my own faith.  His response: “Uncle Kevin, I never meant for you to read a book about it!”  I guess he just doesn’t know me that well…
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On This Day In:
2012 When Young
2011 14 Ways To A Better Judgement

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Remember, for every shot you fire, someone, somewhere, is making money.
  —  Tom Clancy
[Found on a blog I follow: http://dshenai.wordpress.com/
The specific post is:  http://dshenai.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/tribute-to-tom-clancy-with-his-insightful-quotes/
Thanks Deo!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 When Young
2011 14 Ways To A Better Judgement

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Too Few

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility; there are so few of us left.
    —  Oscar Levant
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On This Day In:
2012 Three Characters
2011 Universal Payment
2010 Privatizing the TSA?  (An old – and long – post, but still relevant!!)

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Fragments: No Plan
There is no plan for life,
No map for living.
No one can lead you by the hand,
Say for sure where you should turn.
We want to believe
There is a path
That must be chosen wisely,
Though wisdom
Is only something that we learn
From looking back
On our choices.
Most of all we yearn to be happy.
If you do what you feel
Is right
When you feel it
The present comes into focus
And living
Takes care of itself.
  —   From a blog I follow: “The Mirror Obscura” located at: http://themirrorobscura.com/
The original post was: http://themirrorobscura.com/2013/10/11/fragments-no-plan/
[Another poetry site I’ve recently begun to follow.  The “fragments” part refers to the opinion of the author, that the poem is not truly completed, but he wanted to post it to get it out in the universe anyway.  My opinion is some of his “fragments” are better than my “completed” works.    Well, worth checking out!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 Singing About Love
2011 The Awesome Power Of Truth

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Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
  —  William Penn
[Found at:  http://stevendavisuk.com/
The specific post is at: http://stevendavisuk.com/2013/10/10/my-top-10-motivational-quotes/
  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum
2011 Similar And Different
2010 Reminiscing
Differences

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It is unprecedented for the men who made a revolution to remain in power after it is over.  Yet one still finds revolutionaries: that proves how badly history is taught.
    —  André Maurois
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On This Day In:
2012 Between Two Worlds
2011 Common Humanity
2010 The Last Two Olympians

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The sweetest path of life leads through the avenues of learning.
  —  David Hume
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On This Day In:
2012 Living Free And Abolition
Morning Wood
2011 I Resemble That Remark

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