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Why Do We Believe?

Why Do We Believe?

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Question:

I know that there are many logical proofs for the truth of Judaism, but I imagine that there will always be a counter-argument to every logical arguments. At the end of the day, how do you know that yours is the right way? What makes you so sure?

Answer:

I don't know a thing about your lifestyle, but let's say you were a track athlete. Let's say you've entered a marathon, maybe in the World Olympics. You've been training for years for this, from morning to night and in your dreams as well. There hasn't been a day that you're not exerting yourself far beyond what others think is humanly possible. It's become your entire life.

So now I ask you, "Do you really believe you are going to win?"

Let me tell you something about real athletes—I mean, those that win. Not one of them would hesitate for a nanosecond to answer yes—as though my question was the stupidest idea they had heard. Because if it would enter into their mind for a second that maybe they're not going to win, they would never be able to gruel through everything they had to gruel through to earn their laurels.

About 3,800 years ago, a man named Abraham entered a marathon. He saw that the world was all wrong, full of lies. He envisioned a world where everyone would know that there is only one great, kind and intelligent force behind all things; a world where every life is considered divine. He taught that G‑d—"That Which Is"—the Core of All Existence—cares about what we are doing with His world. That He breathes His own soul into us and charges us to take care of His creation.

Abraham got his message out to most of the world and many followed him. Yet he knew he would not be able to change an entire world in his lifetime. He saw it would take many, many generations through much endurance and pain. He knew that his children who would carry out his mission would be threatened with annihilation again and again. But he was promised by G‑d that G‑d would protect and save them each time. In the end, the world would be transformed. It would be the way it was meant to be—a world of truth.

We are Abraham's children. We have carried his torch and his light for all these thousands of years. Nobody can explain how we survived this long. At any point in history, we were on the verge of disappearance, battered cruelly and mercilessly by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Inquisition, the Cossacks, the Germans and so many others.

Yet all those who oppressed us and attempted to destroy us, they themselves ended up adopting our ways. Until today, there is no corner of the world that has not been deeply transformed by the message of Abraham, the message of human dignity, of purpose, of the oneness of all things and of a caring G‑d behind all things.

We are almost there. The vision lies but around the corner. So, now, I ask you, should we stop to think, "Hey, maybe Abraham had it all wrong to begin with? Maybe we're on totally the wrong track?"

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Image: detail from an illustration by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik.
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Bernice Needham LOndon, Ont/Can via chabadwestern.org December 19, 2014

Why Do We Believe? Truth. Reply

Ana Yama JAPAN December 31, 2008

Good!!!

Good start to finish!! Reply

Tzvi Freeman Thornhill, Ontario December 28, 2008

For Rich in Knoxville Concerning anthropomorphism, you have a right to be puzzled. This is a huge area of Jewish thought. The Chabad approach is a synthesis of Maimonides and the Kabbalah. Have a look at our anthology on "G_d and Us". See also Children of the Universe.

Concerning Jewish ethnocentricity, this is a ubiquitous fault of human nature. It's hard to change nature, but that's what Torah is about. We'll just keep trying. Reply

Rich Knoxville, TN December 28, 2008

RE: Neshama and Rabbi Freeman's reply In spite of your statements, it does seem that the regard that many Jews, especially in orthodox movements, have for gentiles are a cause for resentment and hostility toward Jews. (They also seem to drive some Jews away). As a Jew, I too often I see a distinction made between Jews and non-Jews that is rather prejudiced, arrogant, ignorant, and just plain devaluing toward them. Some of this I imagine is attirbuted to a history of persecution. But there also seems to be an air of spiritual superiority at worst, and at best, a need for insularity. (Incidentally, I do see that many from other faiths are doing much more than some Jews to bring G-d into the world.)

It is not hard to see how some, such as Anonymous from Chicago ("Children of Abraham"), have the reaction that he or she did. What can we Jews do to rectify this? Reply

Rich Knoxville, TN December 28, 2008

"a caring G‑d behind all things." Rabbi,

"A caring G‑d behind all things." How can I understand this better. I have read some Chabad articles about anthropromorphism and G-d, stemming back to Rambam. But when I run across staements such as the one above, I still find myself recoiling and trying to interpret its meaning without resorting to further anthropromorphising. So the question is "how does G-d 'care' for us?" Perhaps you can point me to other web pages.

Thank you for your time. Reply

kay gold coast , australia December 28, 2008

judeism why is judeism still here on earth 4000 yrs after Abraham??guess? well its because they have followed the teachings of the Torah. no other religion has survived that long. Even though countries have attacked and killed many of them, eg, Egypt, Babylonians, persians, russians, germans, crusades, over the centuries, God has always saved a remnant , as he promised,of the jews. God said he would save a remnant . anyone who has a computer may now investigate these promises. Israel has always had to fight for its existance, but they still survive.Even today The Pm of Iran is saying he is going to annihilate Israel . another madman trying to attack jews. Arabs still hate jews and as the terrorists have demonstarated are trying their best to kill everyone in their way. Jews want to live in peace. Israelies have tilled the soil and made the earth produce, whereas Palistinians held Israel for centuries and never cared for the land . Reply

B. Histor December 27, 2008

To anonymous in Melbourne Please stop the hateful, half-baked pseudo-science drivel that was disproved years ago. DNA testing clearly demonstrates that we are a single people spread across the planet for 2500 years and still with the same identifying features. Do you really believe that Jews from Iraq, Morocco, India, Russia, Germany, etc. are all descendants of converts from 700 years ago? Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL December 27, 2008

CORRECTION I addressed you as "Mr. Freeman". I apologize. I should have been Rabbi Freeman. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL December 27, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Freeman... ...for clarifying your statement regarding Abraham. I did indeed misread your comments and am grateful you responded. Your comments and this website also have been of help and inspiration as I try to grow spiritually and learn more about my own Judaism. Reply

Tzvi Freeman (author) Thornhill, Ontario December 27, 2008

Re: Children of Abraham When I wrote that Abraham got his message out to most of the world, I really didn't imagine that anyone would read it the way you did. Most of the world has accepted the concept of human dignity and responsibility to life. That was Abraham's message. The medium was the Jews, from whom sprung many other movements, carrying this same message--including all those you mention.

It seems people read what they expect to read--often the opposite of the writer's intent. Reply

Michael N. Ridgefield, Wa.-USA December 26, 2008

Roots Reply to concerned----
I am a Christian and my roots are definitely
from Judaism---Abraham--Isaac--Jacob--I would not have any other way....and I thank GOD every day for his LOVE.... Reply

A concerned Jew December 26, 2008

reply to anonymous Christian roots are in paganism, not Judaism. Reply

Anonymous Malmo, Sweden December 26, 2008

Why Do We Believe? Thank you!
i do believe but there are times when it's so heavy, that some kind words and strong reminder is necessary.
Thank you for this reminder! Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL December 25, 2008

Children of Abraham I am Jewish. However, I am not affiliated with a congregation, do not actively practice and this article helps demonstrate why. It states that "Abraham got his message out to most of the world and many followed him. Yet he knew he would not be able to change an entire world in his lifetime." So here we are: yet another religion (in this case, my own) stating that we are the one and true faith. Sooner or later, everyone will come around to our way of thinking. And I'm sure there are Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, etc., who believe exactly the same thing.

I understand the importance ore religion and faith. But until ALL religions stop claiming that they have exclusiivity to God's ear and that they are the one and true path, it will leave many such as myself skeptical and questioning. Reply

Anonymous Ridgefield, Wa.-USA December 25, 2008

Believing GOD and HIS WORD is never wrong..... Reply

Anonymous melbourne , australia December 25, 2008

its great to hear how great you Jews feel about being Jewish, but where does that leave me who was not fortunate enough to have a mother who had a mother who had a mother ad infinitum who could claim to be Jewish. There is absolutely no (NO) proof that any of you have anything in a direct inheritance line from the ancient Hebrews, and very likely most of you were converts in the 13 th. century, which means that your absurd claim to the land of Israel is totally unsupportable. To me it all smacks of nothing but pure racism founded on primitive and brutal nomadic tribalism. Happy Chanuka Reply

Tzvi Freeman (author) Thornhill, Ontario December 24, 2008

Re: Neshama The Torah says clearly that the first man was created in the image of G_d. Therefore, all human beings have something G_dly about them, and their lives cannot be valued.

Concerning a Jew, since he was given a special mission at Mount Sinai, he is also imbued with a special connection so that he may accomplish that mission and not perish. And what is that mission? To reveal the G_dliness within each human being and thereby within all of Creation. Reply

Shmuel Klatzkin December 24, 2008

Even rocks all stem from the one light. That does not preclude significant differences between rocks and vegetables, between veggies and a puppy, or between one human and another. Our oneness is supremely meaningful because of our differences--to do away with differences in order to establish oneness is to underrate the true value of oneness, Reply

Anonymous December 23, 2008

I'm a Christian. Christianity's roots are in Judaism and I'm very thankful to be able to ask the rabbis questions about the scriptures because of your unique perspectives. I sincerely respect your insights. Thank you so much. Reply

G. Scarlov Boston, MA December 22, 2008

Neshama I never understood why some of us say a Jewish soul has a G-dly part and the Animal part but that non Jewish souls have only the animal soul? Are not all humans, Jewish, Christian, Muslim all close to G-d? After All Abraham was calling people to worship One G-d, not only his blood line...
I wish people understood that the inner meanings of the covenant and that it is not a blood line that sanctifies a covenant with the One G-d but the same proclamation and commitments which Abraham and Moses made - not being born from them - I know this is an old discussion but as Jews there needs to be a concern for all creation emanating forth from First Light - and G-d knows the secrets of Hearts. Then we may love all people more and fulfill Mitzvot for His sake and the sake of His sparks in all Creation - there will never be full reunification of the Divine Sparks until we recognize the sparks in All His Creation not only in the Jewish external manifestation. Reply

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