Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Genius of Judaism – A Total Educational System

[a mezuzah]

One of the remarkable things about Judaism is that Judaism doesn’t merely teach us to be good people and to believe in God; Judaism includes a complete educational system to constantly remind us of God and morality.

A Jew says brief prayers before and after eating and after using the bathroom.
A Jew stops using electricity and machines for one day a week to remind him that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.
A Jew observes many holidays each year to remind himself of all of God’s miracles throughout history.
The matzo and the sukkah remind us of the Exodus.
The mezuzah on every doorway reminds us of God.
The tzitzis worn by a Jewish man remind him of all the commandments.
A Jewish man puts on tefillin each day to remind himself of God.
A Jewish man attends services in a synagogue three times each day.
A Jewish man studies the Talmud each day.

This is a truly unique and ingenious program which allows the Jew to live in this material world while at the same time remembering all his religious principles.


Anonymous said...

Only a small minority of Jews engage in these irrational exercises. The rest of understand that its all useless ritual.

jewish philosopher said...

Extremely rational, although people who prefer to spend their lives in a cloud of marijuana smoke and a haze of alcohol may not see it that way.

And although only a few Jews today may be fully observant, let's hope that many more will be after reading this post.

DrJ said...

Can't argue with anything in this's not a perfect system, but pretty good, and survived thousands of years evolution (sorry for the expletive)

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off topic, but still interesting:

It seems our brains are hardwired to believe in G-d. I wonder why. COuld it be that G-d created us that way so because he wants us to believe in him? It looks like atheism is unnatural.

DrJ said...

"COuld it be that G-d created us that way so because he wants us to believe in him? It looks like atheism is unnatural."

Maybe so. But one problem with this argument is that, traits that we deem desirable and natural, we tend to attribute to "god"'s good design, but other less flattering aspects of human nature, we interpret as either unnatural or "against" god's will which god wants us to overcome.

Another problem is that it's really kind of a circular argument, one that philosophers don't give much credence to, ie. god created us; how do we know? because god made us to believe in him. The conclusion's truth depends on the proposition's truth.

jewish philosopher said...

I does seem a little odd however from an atheistic point of view. If God is a delusion, why does believing in Him seem to help people living happier and longer lives? We would expect that delusional people should have more problems in life, not fewer.

DrJ said...

I think you could ask the same question about all psychological defenses, which are based on some degree of self-delusion.

We all experience denial, sublimation, and other psych defenses at some time in our lives, and they help us cope.

So does religion. Technically we wouldn't call it a delusion since it does not interefer with function and is shared by other people.

Evolution occurs very slowly and traits develop in response to the conditions in which we live. When the need for a particular trait disappears, the trait may remain for some time (e.g. body hair on humans). So it is possible that the 'religious' trait will fade over time (this seems to be happening)

jewish philosopher said...

I am not aware of any parallel example of a false belief which in the long run enhances and prolongs people's lives.

Let's say my father has died and I deny it and insist "No, it's a mistake." will that actually help me in the long term? Won't more problems arise as I spend my time searching for someone who actually died and wonder why he isn't contacting me?

Anonymous said...

Why would humans evolve a need to believe in G-d? How does it increase our survivability? Just the opposite, from an evolutionary point of view, it is a waste of preciouis neurotranmitters and calories.

DrJ said...

Religion generally, and belief in dieties specifically, was a primitive way of giving order to people's lives and explaining the unexplainable. It just stuck with us. The world is becoming a less religious place. Perhaps religion is a spandrel.

jewish philosopher said...

Chimpanzees, cows and cocker spaniels seem to do quite nicely without explaining anything unexplainable.

Of course, an atheist could just dismiss this as some neurological fluke, however the fact that people need God seems to be suggestive that God created us and wants us to seek Him.

Masid_in_the_Making said...

I wish you would go more in depth on this sugya!
I feel that donning tefillin in the morning is much more than a reminder of G-d. When we put on our tefillin Hashem puts His on for the Klal Yisroel. Hashem showed Moshe His Tefillin Knot and Moshe then perceived His power.

But it is a good general overview! (I await anxiously the day I will have my own tefillin.)

Chazak v'yaametz libecha.