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Wondering: What About Testing Faith

This week I am wondering about tests and about faith. I had students who told me that they had to take surprise tests in school. It was stressful for them - and apparently no one did well on them. I love to learn, but I do not love taking tests. There are strategies for studying that including trying to get ahead of what the teacher will teach (read the chapter before the teacher teaches), and at the other side of the study spectrum is cramming - staying awake the night before to try to cram the information into your brain and hope that it comes out correctly on the test.

Then there is the last-hope effort: realize that there is a test (like a surprise test), and pray fiercely that you do well. I may have done that at times in my life. However, now I realize that if I pray for something that I really want G-d to do for me, it feels like an inappropriate waste of a request to have G-d produce a miracle of the magnitude to give me all of the answers, when I put in no effort to study the material. 

I had a different kind of test this week. I came to realize that it was something like a test of faith. I had an interfaith meeting and it got derailed by people who only saw one way of talking about or learning about G-d. It made me question how I understood what "faith" means... what it means to me, and what I think it means in Judaism.

This experience will have me thinking about things for a long time, but for now I realized that when I am "practicing" my faith, I spend more time on doing things than on focusing on how much G-d loves me or how much I love G-d. I do Mitzvot: which may include doing kind things for others, or appreciating the new day or the food that I eat. The people I was with seemed to be reading Scriptures in order to learn to love G-d more. I read Scriptures to learn to find holiness/meaning in life and what I do and my attitude about the world. 

This week I am wondering: What are your thoughts about faith? Does being Jewish mean concentrating on your love of G-d or G-d's love for you? Does it concentrate on the relationship between you and G-d? Is that the same thing? When do you feel that your faith is tested?

Once again, I want to thank everyone who has responded to my  "Wonderings."  You are always welcome to respond to any of the questions I have asked by calling or emailing, no matter how long ago the question was originally posed. You can also choose to keep your replies totally private, and not be posted on the Responses page. I always try to remove personal / identifying details when I do post the replies. 

Go to Wonderings main page: CLICK HERE to see what answers I receive from our congregants. Check back periodically, because I continue to add replies when I get them.

To send me your thoughts about this Wondering or any of the previous ones, you are welcome to reply to this email, or call.


Wed, June 29 2022 30 Sivan 5782