Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

We Should Make ‘Choosing’ the Focus

Rabbi Grossman asserts that she does not eat bread on Passover because she “loves God.” Her metaphor pulls at my heart but it also pulls on my brain. Do we really believe that God asks us to practice mitzvot in the same way a lover asks us to take out the garbage? Is God that pathetic? Is God that sycophantic? I am moved by Rabbi Grossman’s claim that she observes mitzvot such as chametz because of her own emotional connection. I, too, think that an emotional and personal connection to mitzvot is important. But ultimately mitzvot are about creating a certain type of human being and being commanded demands that one be free to choose whether or not to observe the commandment. Mitzvot are not there to engender a masochistic personality but rather a freely-choosing spiritual being who decides to opt in or opt out. Mitzvot encourages us to make “choosing” the focus of our lives. As Maimonides’ emphasis on free choice suggests: Jewish law is not about obedience as much as it is about cultivating a free choosing individual.


Read the Full Debate: Does God Really Care If We Eat Bread on Passover?

Explore Beliefnet’s Complete Passover Features:

Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Grethel Jane Rickman

posted April 8, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Ah…but Rabbi Stern, kavana is also important!

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.