In the past Judaism was the center of my being and the focus of my becoming. I had little interest in her traditions and customs, in the distinctly tribal aspects of the game, but I did have a great passion for the philosophy, mysticism, and magic of it. Today things have changed. It is the tribal aspects of Judaism that speak to me.
I practice kashrut (kosher) and Shabbat (the Sabbath), albeit in my own way, and I continue to tell Jewish stories and read Jewish texts, especially the Bible and the rabbis strange literary reinvention of it, but wrestling with the arcane notions of Jewish philosophy and mysticism, and making them fit what I know to be true, is tiresome to me. Philosophy and mysticism seem more and more to be obfuscations of reality, like covering a mirror with a painting of yourself rather than seeing yourself reflected as you really are.
I still get calls from people eager to talk about Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. And I can warm to the subject, but it is just a thing to talk about. Kabbalah is another linguistic pointer aiming at that to which you cannot point. You cannot point to God or Truth or Reality for you are God, Truth, and Reality. At best you can point to yourself but that is just silly. You are yourself, why point to it?
Yet I still enjoy talking and spinning lovely if not elegant systems of what Reality might be if Reality weren’t what it already is. It is a game I like playing the way I like playing chess, Go, and Scrabble. But, as with these games, its meaning is intrinsic. It matters only in the context of itself. This is not a criticism, just an observation.
More and more I return to Martin Buber’s dialogical Hebrew Humanism and Baruch Spinoza’s Third Way of Knowing (satori) as the heart of my Judaism. If I have intellectual Jewish roots, it is with these sages and their spiritual anarchy rather than Rabbi Akiva or Moses Maimonides and their halachic (legal) concerns.
It is ironic that just as I seem to be getting more and more invitations to talk the topics I am asked to address are no longer things that I really want to talk about. In fact I only want to talk about one thing: you— who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and why. And since you are God talking about you is talking about God. And since God is Reality talking about you and God is talking about Reality. What can be anything more compelling than that?