The problem with religion is all this talk about faith. Why believe in something just because somebody else—or even a lot of people—believe it is true. After all, why do they believe it? Because they believe someone else. And what kind of proof is that? Because a lot of believers believe, I should believe too?

Then there’s philosophy. The problem with philosophy is all this talk about reason. Reason doesn’t move you anywhere, because for every good reason in one direction, there’s always another equally good reason in the opposite direction—and even if you don’t know of one, once you’ve had enough experience with reason proving you wrong, you’re always going to have that nagging feeling that this is also going to be a dead end.

So what’s a living, breathing, suposedly sentient being supposed to do?

Nobody ever took a risk, made a gamble or invested in a business by force of reason. But only fools do such things on pure faith. The tried and proven approach to life is a proper balance of the two.

First you have faith that there is an answer. Nothing can happen without a place to stand.

Then you use your mind to look clearly, casting aside preconceptions, assumptions and prejudices. Even if the answer is not what you expected, not what you would like, not where you were planning to head, hey, it’s the answer. Then you look again, even deeper. And yet deeper.

And then a voice inside says, “Yeah, this is it. I gotta go with this one”—that’s when you commit. That’s when reason ends and faith takes over.

Like a marriage: It starts with an attraction, a kind of faith that this is the right one. And it ends with a commitment, that we’re going to make this work, no matter what. It doesn’t start with reason and it doesn’t end with reason. But if there’s no reason in between, man, can you get in trouble.

Once you’ve done your homework and you know this guy has no history of violence, has got his act together enough to support a family, and is who he says he is—or the similar kinds of factors with a gal—then you go beyond that. You get married. Marriage is the point where you say, “Okay, now I can believe in you. Now I have faith. Now, even if one day I wake up and see you lying there makeupless, in your curlers, and even a few wrinkles and grayish hairs, snoring and grumpy-looking after our terrible quarrel last night, still I’m there for you. I believe in you.”

Really, you started with that faith to begin with. You just needed some reasoning to make sure you’re not being duped.

So too, the Jew is married to the Torah. He doesn’t want to study the books of all those who say he is a fool—just as a faithful husband doesn’t want to hear criticism of his wife. Just like an athlete in training doesn’t want to hear all the reasons why he might not win. He has 100% faith that he will win—otherwise he would not be killing himself over the grueling rigors of his daily training.

Just like the acrobat will not take his eyes off his goal, so the Jew after more than 3,300 years is not ready to say, “Hey, maybe we made a mistake back there. Maybe we didn’t think it through properly after all. Maybe we gave our lives to the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Inquisition, etc., all in vain? Maybe all our history was a big waste after all, and our fathers and mothers were plain fools for three millennia?”

Okay, if you want, you can think all those things.

Just as the acrobat was about to place his foot on the platform at the far end of his rope, he looked back and . . .