Thursday, June 30, 2005

religious or moral?

In recent conversations, especially with Barbara From California but also from others as well, I have noticed that people make a seperation in their moral lives from things that are religious and things that are good but not necessarily religious. I have never really thought of issues in those terms primarily because I have lived in a religious environment from day 1 and consider just about everything from a religious point of view.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I can see where someone who was not brought up religious has a need to seperate the two concepts. The main difference is the reason why you are not doing something and how you would have to rationalize in order to determine that it was ok.
Honor Your Parents:
While this idea makes sense to the majority of people, I have heard the opinion that parents must earn the respect of their children. If you accept this as a divine commandment, then it does not matter if your parents are horrible people. You must respect them in any case. That does not mean you should line up for a beating - the rules for respecting your parents are outlined in detail in the Talmud, the written version of the oral tradition.

Don't Kill:
People often quote this commandment as a reason why religious people should not go to war. However, they ignore the rest of the Torah throughout which God tells the people to go out and kill man, woman and child. Capital Punishment is also espoused in the Torah. Yet, we see there is a divine differentiation between one killing and the next.
If you feel that not killing is a moral, yet not religious rule, then it becomes a lot harder to make that differentiation. If you believe it is immoral to kill, what if someone is trying to hurt you or your family? What if someone really upset you? When is it ok? when is it not? what is the basis of your decision? Is this a decision that everyone should make on their on? that should be voted on by society? what if you disagree with the vote? Does that mean that rules that you don't agree with are being forced on you?

Something to think about.


BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

In a complete reversal of thinking, your comments and thinkings have given me a perspective to think about these topics and subjects from a religious point of view. This is new for me.

Here is what I mean.(and I will try to be brief.) The other day, I was reading on Shlomy's blog how he operated from the fundamental premise that he must not talk to a woman who left her dry cleaning in front of a bank. The reason he could not talk to her was because the Torah, by his interpretation, prohibited such action to occur. Consequently, Shlomy went to extreme lengths to do good for the woman, but uphold the rule of God.
He went to great lengths to do the right thing, but maintain his religious principles. Ultimatly, he returned the items to the woman.

Then I began to think about my own conduct. How I worry, and worry and worry about my children, seeming to aggrivate myself. I go to great lengths as well, but the fundamental premise originates from my own ego (fear) and not to respect or obey any commandments or prohibitions. So in the end, what is better off, more meaningful, and rightous? It made me think, coupled with these comments in your blog today.

Olah Chadasha said...

There are many people who misunderstand the meaning of Lo Tirtzach. If you translate it to mean "Don't Kill", then people can assume that war and capital punishment and even killing in self-defense is halachically wrong, and G-d is contradicting Himself by telling the Jews to go out to war and have 4 types of capital punishment and are allowed to kill if being attacked. However, if the proper translation is "Dont Murder", then there's no problem. There is a big difference b/t killing and murder.