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What makes a moment truly special isn’t the moment itself — it’s how that moment changes the future. Holiness is about marking a transition,but the crucial thing to remember is that the implications of a holy moment can’t end at that moment.
Either God exists, or God doesn’t. And we have absolutely no control over that fact. And so because there’s nothing we can do about whether there is a God or not, I’ve never found that question to be a particularly interesting one to ask. After all, when the question is framed in that way, there are really only three answers people can give — “Yes, I do,” “No, I don’t,” or “I’m not sure.”
On the one hand, we want to accept ourselves where we are, and yet we also want to strive to be better. But walking a tightrope is stressful — it is far too easy to fall over one side or the other. So some researchers have wondered: is there a more effective way to help us accept our human failings and be motivated to improve?
We spend much more time wandering in the wilderness than living in the Promised Land. In fact, that may be why the Torah was given in middle of the wilderness — to remind us that while the Promised Land is wonderful, we learn our greatest lessons on the journey along the way.
Is “intelligence” the same thing as “wisdom”? Or, to phrase it another way, if computers can become “intelligent,” is there any way they could become “wise”?
To me, our goal shouldn’t be getting rid of religion — it should be about moving beyond the “Santa Claus” view of God to create a more sophisticated theology, and using religion to improve our world, rather than harm it.
When we have to take an action that is correct and appropriate — but also potentially difficult and controversial — are we brave enough to take it?
If we have to think about who we are — a most basic and fundamental question — in new and inventive ways, then we’ll be that much more likely to start thinking of programs, products, and situations in new and inventive ways, as well.
The most effective punishments generally exceed their crimes, because they not only punish the wrong-doer, they act as a powerful deterrents. But “effective” doesn’t necessarily mean “moral.”
If we think of our neighbors as people we have to try to keep up with, then that will just make us miserable. But if we think of our “neighbors” as those we have a responsibility to, then we can realize the value and importance of moving away from our self-centered materialism.
Perhaps the Robin Hood story endures even up to today because thinking about “giving to the poor” simply makes us feel good (although certainly just “taking from the rich” is not what we should do!). So maybe we should strive to become a bit more like Robin Hood on the “giving” part of that equation — not only would it make the world more fair, it would make us feel better, as well.
Today, “Jewish identity” is no longer fixed, and it is no longer a given — it has to be created and nurtured in order to be chosen and embraced. And in fact, that has the potential to be a great boon for the Jewish community.