What all of these ideas have in common is simply this: They all see halacha as a response. If Judaism is nothing more than a human need tossed arbitrarily upward, then it will be hard to sustain, either in theory or in practice. But the fundamental faith statement of Judaism, I believe, is that it arose in dialogue. We are addressed. How the address happened, when it happened, whether it was a gradual process taking place over the course of many generations or a one-time, monumental, thunder-and-lightning theological extravaganza is not the ultimate question.

As we light Shabbat (Sabbath) candles, are we doing so in answer to God's having taken an initiative in the world? If so, then we are part of a chain that began not with Abraham, but with God. If we care, if we practice, if we persevere in our search, then the conversation continues.

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