Please understand: I do not disbelieve Judaism. And Judaism is beautiful, no question about it. But is practicing it a necessary, non-negotiable component of a healthy life for a Jew? Is it even, for that matter, true at all?

I would like to believe so. But I will not believe for belief's sake. I believe my intellect is a gift from G‑d and I intend to use it in my "quest."

If I were, in fact, to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, then I know that I would make the necessary sacrifices to lead a fully Torah-observant life—just like I happily devote many hours of my weekly life to running in place on a treadmill, and I love eating vegetables instead of a candy bar. But how can I know?

I hope this makes sense.


You say that you would like to know that Judaism is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is how every Jew ought to live. However, allow me to share some insight into this shadow called doubt:

Doubt and questioning are not synonymous. King Solomon tells us that only a fool believes everything; the wise man submits everything to intelligent inquiry before committing himself. Questioning is a path towards growth in wisdom and life.

Doubt, on the other hand, is destructive. Its victim is life itself—any attempt to grow, to progress, to become tomorrow something greater than you are today. The voice of maybe not? or says who?—questions that can never be answered, because to every answer you can just ask again, maybe not? and says who? This is the shadow of doubt—a phantom mockery of authentic questioning. It robs a person of resolve, vision and impetus, replacing these with uncertainty, confusion and inertia.

The only response to this kind of debilitating doubt is to quash it down whenever it raises its head; to respond to its incessant, irrational question marks with an emphatic, even sarcastic exclamation mark!

Here is a list of several essays about doubt, and here is another list of essays about the tribe of Amalek, whose spiritual identity is that of one who sows doubt. Tightrope Walking presents an animated lesson in overcoming doubt.

Certainly, a valid question must be explored and plumbed until the true answer is found. But if we are to ever achieve anything in our spiritual quests, we need to recognize the point at which a question has been reasonably answered, and what's holding us back is a perverse, irrational doubt.