Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is Your Religion the True One?

Question of the Week:


Due to my business, I travel a lot and meet many people from different religions. I have met Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians of all denominations, and each and every one believes that their religion is the one true religion and it is the right one to follow.


We can't all be right. So how are you so convinced that you are not going to burn in hell by not following Catholicism? Or get Allah angry by not being a good Muslim? Ultimately should we pick a religion like we choose our lotto numbers; just hoping that when it all comes to an end we have made the right choice?


Best regards and may the right god be with you.




Imagine there was one belief that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus all accepted as true. Wouldn't that be amazing? For these very different religions to agree on something - anything - is nothing short of a miracle. If all the major religions would concur on one divine revelation, there could be no stronger indication that this revelation is true.


Well, it exists. There is one revelation that all believe to be true. All religions agree that the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mt Sinai. This fact is written clearly in the Christian and Muslim scriptures. And the eastern masters have veneration for the Torah and its divine wisdom, to the point that they actually send Jewish seekers back to Judaism. The Dalai Lama is known to have told Jews who come to him "Why do you come to me? Go home and study Torah!"


So all major religions believe in the divine origin of Judaism. The same cannot be said for any other belief system. This is an incredibly significant point. It means that while so many Jews walk around unsure of their beliefs, most of the world today believes that G-d gave the Torah to the Jews.


But there's more. Believing Judaism is true does not mean negating other spiritual paths. Judaism teaches that while Judaism is the way for Jews, it is not for everyone. We are not out to convert the world to Judaism. Unlike almost every other religion, Jews do not missionize. This is because we believe not everyone needs to be Jewish.


A non-Jew can be close to G-d, go to heaven, and lead a moral and meaningful life, all the while remaining a non-Jew. Spiritual paths other than Judaism can be valid, as long as they conform to the seven basic laws for all humanity, known as the Laws of the Children of Noah (Noah being the father of all humankind). The seven laws are: do not serve idols, do not curse G-d, do not murder, do not commit acts of sexual immorality, do not steal, set up a fair justice system, and treat animals mercifully.


This is amazing. All religions believe in Judaism, and yet Judaism leaves room for other religious expressions. I am proud to be part of a belief system that can accept others, and is accepted by others. Not that this is the basis of my faith. Judaism doesn't need outside confirmation to be acceptable. But this is a strong argument against those who think that faith is a zero-sum game. And it provides a vision for how the world can live in harmony - many paths, one divine truth.


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss


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