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How Do You Get Faith?

How Do You Get Faith?

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Question:

I guess this is called a crisis of faith. With all the tragedy and suffering in the world, how am I supposed to have faith? Look what's happening around us. I would like to feel faith, but it doesn't come. It seems so irrational.

Response:

Faith - what a laden word! I am envious when I encounter someone with faith so strong and simple that nothing can shake it. For the rest of us, however, faith is a decision. And sometimes that decision is just way too difficult to make at a given moment. But to abandon it - what reason would be left for life if there is no meaning, nothing in which to believe?

I'm blessed with children, and when each one was born I was overwhelmed with love for the child. A friend of mine hadn't this sweet blessing. And then she sought out a child to make her own - another woman's birth child became her legal child. And she loved him. How? How does a woman sign some papers, take a baby in her arms, and feel love? Yet at some point, the reservoirs of maternal instinct came flooding forth. From the very first instant she acted in all of the behaviors of love. She held him, and caressed him, and bathed him, and fed him.....and one day she came to feel true, deep, maternal love for him.

Faith, I think, is not much different. Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don't.... but what my heart may be closed to, my brain reminds me is real. There is a G‑d. And He is good. When I'm in pain, that faith may become cloudy.... but I know it's there.

Here's a simple way to make that decision: Light candles for Shabbat. Whatever you may feel, when you put that match to the wick, cover your eye and say the blessing, and then open them to the light of Shabbat - you know this is real. The flame is real. The spiritual connection is real. This act of Jewish women through thousands of years of painful history, and across all social and cultural and geographic borders... this is real. And your faith, too, will become real.

Mrs. Bronya Shaffer is a noted globetrotting lecturer on Jewish women's issues, and serves as a personal counselor and mentor for women, couples and adolescents. Mrs. Shaffer, a responder for Chabad.org’s Ask the Rabbi service, lives with her ten children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
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Discussion (21)
February 24, 2015
barry wicksman is correct, and this beautiful article is wrong
>I am envious when I encounter someone with faith so strong and simple that nothing can shake it<

You shouldn't be. It means that person was so indoctrinated she can no longer think.

>But to abandon it - what reason would be left for life if there is no meaning, nothing in which to believe?<

To believe in something—true or not—because you need that belief in order to find meaning is a poor excuse. An opiate.

>There is a G-d. And He is good<

You wouldn't know it from the 10,000 young kids who die slow, agonizing deaths in Africa every single day because no one sent rain for years (this has been going on for thousands of years--"And there was famine in the land"). Or from watching prey animals--fully possessing nervous systems and experiencing t'saar ba'alei chaim--being agonizingly ripped to shreds by carnivores. And all this is the doing of a good G-d?

>Light candles for Shabbat... your faith…will become real<

Is this the message—that doing mitzvos will cloud reality?
Mendy
USA
February 19, 2015
feeling faith
Faith is innate, something with which is not taught, but rather instinctively felt. One way of being able to experience our faith is to begin observing one mitzvah, lighting Shabbat candles every week, for example. While lighting the candles, we may feel a spiritual connection with
G-d. After several weeks of lighting candles, hopefully, it will become a special time of the week, one you look forward to arriving.

As you continue to light candles, you might also recognize that your feeling of faith has increased and that you want to take on another mitzvah.

Faith is a little like falling in love. We can't plan on falling in love or put it on our calendars. It is something we feel; it is a spontaneous emotion which also has the ability to increase and grow given the correct circumstances. So, too, can faith.
Esther Gordon
Little Rock
February 19, 2015
One way to obtain faith is by doing....
I believe that if we begin by observing one mitzvah, and do this regularly with feeling, we will be able to acknowledge our level of faith increasing. For example, if we light Shabbat candles and pray every week without fail, our sense of our faith will grow.

The more mitzvot we take on, the greater the understanding of and feelings we will be able to sense in ourselves.

Having faith is something we do without thinking about; we learn to have faith automatically. At first we might feel self conscious and question why we believe in faith without having something concrete to touch, feel and understand.

Faith is similar yo the emotion of falling in love. That is not something we deliberately decide we will feel for another person, it "just happens." The same idea can be said about faith - allow faith to germinate and it will blossom and grow.


Esther Gordon
Litt
August 28, 2014
sorry but this article says nothing to me. It doesn't rally address the problem.
barry wicksman
April 19, 2014
faith and childless
There are many people in this world without children. Children should not be the basis for faith, God should be. God is love, and love can be found in friendship, love of pets, and other family members. There are even people who have no human love in this world...but if they have the love of God, which iis bigger than anything.
Anonymous
January 17, 2014
faith
I need help. I wanna believe in god I'm fighting too but something inside me is stopping me I want too but I have a hard time being focused do you have advice
miguel
August 4, 2011
faith and religion
i believe that to accept G-d is a real and fine and normal thing to do. i do it.

but i also (respectfully) have decided to refuse to get involved in my Jewish religion. Why?

I don't want to deal with the fear and the guilt and the ritual and the cage.

I am a yeshiva boy for a year, and still eat kosher and still lay tefillin and turn my phone off on shabbos.

the rest i simply must dispense with -- even if, after i die, i find out it is all true.

that is, i accept i may be wrong. but i won't say i'm wrong til after i go.

any thoughts?
tuvia
brooklyn, ny
April 16, 2010
Beautiful
That is truly a beautiful explanation. I thought, 'Wow, that is exactly what I do!' My faith is largely in my actions that connect me to G-d, which is exactly what this article emphasizes.
Jordon Grubic
Rockville, Maryland
August 1, 2009
To 'Faith' in Manila
Dear 'Faith':
What you are looking for is faith in yourself- to make right your wrong doing. Your comment is not really about your faith in Gd. In order to make something whole- to heal the guilt- you need to do what you are afraid of doing, but know it is the right thing to do. Guilt is about lack of courage. The fact that we have a feeling of guilt is a gift Gd gave us as a compass to guide us back to wholeness. As for Gd, know that He has faith in you to have courage because He made you in His image.
Judith
Fairfield, USA
chabadiowacity.com
May 21, 2009
I'm having the same problem. I wish I could find an answer. You're not alone.
me
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