Getting to know each other

Getting to know each other

It might seem pretty clear to readers that whenever it all comes down to the everlasting dichotomy between faith and doubt, the most common answer, or guideline for the understanding of both aspects, is rather diffuse and vague. Throughout history, whenever humans have been confronted with dilemmas, or whenever they feel lost and surely do not know where they are going, there are, unfortunately, many ways of getting there. Yosef Meystel has always been aware of the wealth embedded in the Jewish beliefs, therefore he conveys this message believing that the true meaning of its teachings does not necessarily lay on faith statements as Judaism never encourages Jewish people to deny their questions or doubts. From the Jewish perspective, the term faith is not simply a matter of giving the intellectual nuance to the consequent existence of a creator; from the Jewish perspective in regards of faith, what is required ultimately is not just the mere action of believing (or having faith) but knowledge of the creator.

When it comes to defining knowledge, the term itself suggest that knowledge is something that is based upon reason and experience, it is something substantial and unlike many misconceptions, it is not something that is just taken on faith without having any type of backing whatsoever at all. Knowledge is the ultimate basis to confer the attribute of truth to a given aspect of life. Imagine a major group of baseball fans of the worst baseball team in the Major League who claim that their team will win the championship this year: not being based upon some reason but upon faith —a blind fate. Unlike these fans, supporters of the best actually do have reasons to believe that their team can end up winning the title —based on historical records and performance. Whenever people have enough reasons to believe something, ultimately those reasons can definitively approach knowledge, and in this case, knowledge of God; nonetheless, the mere concept of knowledge of God goes beyond this last statement since it is not just a certain degree of certainty. In Hebrew, the word for ‘knowledge’ actually refers to ‘connection’; biblically speaking, the word knowledge refers to the deepest degree of connection.

The above suggests that simply saying or asserting that there is definitely a God is pointless if there is no knowledge associated to it, and this can be applied to every aspect in life: becoming connected to knowledge enables knowledge to become a part of who people are. Imagine the relationships people have with coworkers, or family, or colleagues — people often say that they know someone in a company, for instance, although they surely do not work alongside them or have nothing to do with them; they might have heard their name, or they might be aware of the name of determined coworker and where they work, nevertheless this does not necessarily mean that they actually know them as they do not have any type of connection with them. Jewish beliefs and traditions, and the Torah, actually, encourage people to develop deeper connections, whether with people, community, beliefs, etc. without falling into the trap of just coming across superfluous relationships, for instance. This suggests not simply acknowledging the people around us, or the community people are part of, or even relatives, but to become connected to them.

Getting to know each other
Courtesy of Alice Linahan Voices Empo at Flickr.com

No wonder why Jewish people lean towards philanthropy and taking care of their own and their communities. In fact, strengthening relationships (or actually connecting with people) goes hand in hand with the Jewish belief that to give is to receive —which is why the Jews have succeeded despite the fact of having been attacked and segregated throughout history. Strong relationships nurture and foster people lives, the wealth of the community exceeds the alleged perks of the single human being. In order for people to thrive, it is mandatory to establish a solid network: not just a network of names, but a network of solid relationships where people actually know each other as it is the way to fuel and be ready for what is coming. Jewish teaching ultimately suggest people with pieces of advice how to attach themselves to God, or how to elaborate a better connection with the belief of the existence of God, nonetheless, these advices can also be applied to a terrestrial threshold, however, it can be confusing at times given the amount of information and stimuli people face on a daily basis. Relationships, for instance, are often magnified by the media —novels, movies, television, magazines, etc. And people often get lost in this sea of interpretations as they wrongfully fantasize with the ideal relationship, whether romantic or personal, since they value more the eventual nuances consequence of separate respective roles (passion, romance, success, etc.) over the real experience which is, as Judaism suggests, getting to really know each other.