Jewfem Blog

Are Jews really chosen? Or are all religions really the same?

I watched a captivating little video clip today about a man who has tried out six different religions – a few varieties of Christianity, two types of Islam, Hinduism, and currently Judaism. His conclusion? It doesn’t matter. All religions are the same. You can imagine how people of each religion might respond to this. After all, the whole point about being in your religion – for many people, at least –  is that you consider it special. How many wars have been fought because people of a certain religion felt the need to prove to the world that theirs is the best, most correct, or only authentic religion? Too many to count. People around the world have, for centuries or millennia, dedicated their lives to the idea that their religion is the True Word of God. Judaism does this, too. I realize that many Jews will take deep offense at what I am writing here, the notion that Judaism promotes its own specialness no differently than every other religion. I can hear the shouting already. How can you say that? How can you put us in the same category as Islam? As Christianity? What kind of blasphemy is that? Jews really ARE different! Yes, we have been telling ourselves that for a long time. Some of our most important moments are swathed in language that says we are chosen and special. Friday night Kiddush: Ki vanu bacharta, Because You chose us and made us holyBlessing on reading the Torah: Asher bacharta banu mikol ha’amim, for choosing us from among all the nations.The Amidah of the High Holidays and festivals: Ata b’chartanu mikol ha’amim, You chose us from among all the nations We have ingrained this notion that our religion is special, unique, or better than everyone else’s inside our collective memory and consciousness. So has Christianity. So has Islam. I’m just saying. So along comes this curious and courageous guy and says something that, to be honest, I have been thinking for a long time. All the religions are the same. We all like to think we are unique, but we are all basically doing the same thing. And what is it that people in all the different religions are all doing?     He gives an analogy of fingers pointing to the moon that comes from Buddhism: It is as if we are all pointing our fingers, looking for the moon, and instead of finding the moon, we are all obsessed with our own fingers. He doesn’t say what “the moon” is in the analogy, but I have some thoughts about it. We are looking for spirituality, purpose, meaning, the God within, the reason why we are here, the way we are all connected, the larger spirit beyond our little lives, collective consciousness, our Divine sparks. We are all divine beings and we are trying to hear that divine voice within our minds. We are all looking for this, and religion often brings us closer to that. Of course, organized...

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