Monday, July 12, 2010

We're Missing the Big Picture


We take the laws of nature for granted. Birds fly, people don't. An apple falls from a tree and hits the ground. It doesn't head out into the sky. We have four seasons. (In Michigan there are two - winter and construction.) The leaves on the trees turn pretty colors in the fall. Snow is cold. We can go on and on.

While we take the rules of nature for granted - we see the Jewish laws and customs as random; a haphazard set of archaic rules. We don't see a "big picture" banding them together into a coherent message or guide to life.

This is why I picked the two books on the featured page of A Jewish Minute's store. I have read both and sincerely recommend them without hesitation.

Masterplan by Aryeh Carmell - This book takes the mitzvot and creates that coherent picture that we're missing. How these mitzvot relate to one another, how the mitzvot help us relate to each other, help us relate to the world, and how we can create a better world. One or two pages are dedicated to explaining each mitzvah and how it fits into this bigger picture. It is readable and can be read slowly - one mitzvah at a time, or obviously more.

The Sabbath by Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld - This book does a good job of explaining what exactly the Shabbat is and what it really means to "rest". I just finished reading this book and while I thought I understood the purpose of Shabbat and what we're supposed to get out of it, I really did learn new things. It's a short book, just over 100 pages long and of course readable.

These two books do an excellent job of clarifying that big picture that we're missing. The assumption that Judaism is made up of a bunch of random and useless rules just isn't true - these books help put the pieces together.

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