The value of Ju­daism

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - Letters To The Editor -

I wish to com­mend The CJN for call­ing at­ten­tion to the ris­ing cost of Jewish liv­ing (“When Jewish life be­comes a debt sen­tence,” Dec. 29). Sheri Shefa’s holis­tic ap­proach, which con­nected the price of hous­ing to that of schools, shuls, and kosher food, was an im­por­tant frame to an is­sue that is of­ten ap­proached piece­meal.

Yet there was some­thing miss­ing. The ar­ti­cle did not ex­plain why we pay this price. What is the value of Jewish life?

Os­car Wilde fa­mously said, “A cynic knows the price of every­thing, and the value of noth­ing.” We must dis­cuss af­ford­abil­ity. How­ever, we must not do so as cyn­ics.

A word that ap­peared re­peat­edly in the ar­ti­cle was “obli­ga­tion.” If we see Ju­daism only as an obli­ga­tion, we will not pay this “price.” If we see Ju­daism as a com­pelling life nar­ra­tive, as a trea­sure that most en­riches our life, then we can over­come this chal­lenge. How does Ju­daism en­rich our lives? Think of the beauty of a Shab­bat morn­ing in shul. In a world filled with noise, how spe­cial is the si­lence when you, in a crowded room, take three steps for­ward and feel a mo­ment’s peace?

Think of the beauty a child who can read a Rashi. How mean­ing­ful is it that our chil­dren speak a lan­guage that laid dor­mant for thou­sands of years, but could only come back to life, be­cause it was pre­served in the texts that we loved for all those years ?

Ju­daism makes our lives bet­ter. It pro­vides mean­ing and con­text to help us an­swer the ques­tion, “What should I live for?” Ju­daism can be our com­pelling life nar­ra­tive and our great­est trea­sure. Let’s make it so.

Rabbi Chaim Strauch­ler Toronto

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