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Beware the ritual.

BS"D  It appears to me that people of all races and nations and beliefs have an unconscious desire to enslave themselves and they use ritual and tradition to do it. It is not uncommon for a person, let us call him Ruben, to have a self-imposed need to do thing A before he does thing B, even though there is no reason for doing it in that order except that he did it before. He unconsciously got in the rut of doing it that way, so he continues doing it that way. And the ritualistic order does not stop with A and B, but go on to  C, D, E, and so forth. This before that, and that before the other thing. But here is where it gets interesting. After doing the self-imposed unconscious ritual a few times, suddenly you impose it upon yourself. You unconsciously imagine that you are obligated to do the ritual and if you fail, you have lost something. The loss can be insignificant, but it leaves an emptiness within. At that point, Ruben is a slave to an imaginary master. And since the master is imaginary, he cannot free Ruben. Ruben will have to escape and be a heretic. That is how every religion in the world works, how it got started and how it continues. Be mitbonen in that. 

Having been a searcher for Truth from the years 1967 through 1975, I searched in a lot of places and came believe my own heritage is the best of the lot, plain ole Orthodox Judaism done right. But as the same time, I saw that all religions snare their adherents the same way, except for Judaism. With everyone else, a prophet or an avatar has a vision and a revelation of the Divine and he brought the vision to the people, and they either worshipped G-d the way he said to worship him or they worshipped him as god. Judaism was different. Approximately, two and a half million men, women, and children, mostly Children of Israel, but many thousands of non-Jewish believers who went with them into the desert, also heard G-d at Mount Sinai. And if you look closely, the Ten Commandments, the covenant itself, has only one ritual. Shabbat. Because Shabbat is the one ritual that does not enslave, but liberates. G-d Himself is the ultimate Liberator and He gave us Shabbat as a perpetual liberation. Whoever you are, whatever is your nation or creed, fight for Shabbat. Here is where to make your stand. This is what is different about Judaism at its best. It is the one religion that liberates and it is the one religion that is merciful. That is because it is the one religion that has G-d Himself as the Judge, and no human being or human agency is as merciful as G-d. And what distinguishes Judaism from all other religions is its one real ritual, Shabbat.  By observing Shabbat, Ruben is not only testifying to his belief in the G-d of Israel, our Father in Heaven, that He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh which is equal to belief in the whole Torah. Not only is Ruben testifying that, but he is actually imitating G-d by resting as He rested, which might be considered a chutzpah, except that G-d commanded it in the Ten Commandments of everyone and their descendants of all those standing at the base of Mount Sinai when they heard the Voice of G-d. It is an Eternal Covenant. 

If a non-Jew really feels he or she has Jewish roots, which is the case with several hundred million people in the world, why look back only as far as the Ten Lost Tribes? Go back to Mount Sinai. The Torah tells us there was goyim there. If there were only ten thousand, their descendants would be hundreds of millions today and they would all have Shabbat in their spiritual DNA and they would all come from someone who tasted manna. You are what you eat. Only some people tasted manna. Be mitbonen on that. It is a Torah of Shem. Shabbat shalom. 

Postscript: Beware of the traps of ritual that are laid for Ruben on Shabbat. Ruben does not have to do everything that they say he has to do. Nothing is holier than staying home and discussing Torah with your family. It beat shul five ways to Tisha B’Av. Pssst…it liberates. G-d will be found in those Shabbat discussions more than He will be found in shul. Again, Shabbat shalom.

Chaim Clorfene