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:

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

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 postings over a time frame of days (rather than moments) predicated upon the belief in the value of and […]

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 it’s that blogging doesn’t lend itself so well to the longer and more thoughtful reflections […]

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 advisors. She was right. I never should have cited those websites–they […]

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 black and Jewish communities look to this period either with hope as a sign […]