Recently, I stumbled upon a message group filed with mostly formerly Torah observant Jews. I am a formerly atheist leaning Jew (I called myself agnostic only because I thought you could never know there wasn’t a Creator) who became Torah observant, So when I joined the group and began responding to some of the arguments, hilarity ensued.
So far, I’ve had some of the best philosophical arguments I’ve had in years with some of the more astute and less angry members of the group. The majority, however, resign themselves to scoffing at and mocking the idea a Creator and anything that stands for or shows that there is one. This is usually combined with a very unhealthy dose of arrogance, or maybe worse, anger and emotional trauma. As a former scoffer (and The Simpsons addict, before moving onto South Park’s even greater ‘liberation’ into trashing anything and everything), I think the difference to me is more jarring to me than most. (Side note: I haven’t owned a TV since becoming a Torah observant Jew.)
One member of this group took to outright mocking quotations in the Torah, making up his own vile quotes. I won’t repeat what he said here or anywhere, but take a look at the difference between a person who believes in nothing and holds nothing sacred, and a person who believes that everything we do has value. One can go through tragic events in life, or even, boring events in life, and come out looking at life beautifully or looking at life as a place of temporary misery before you die.
The conversation then went like this:
PatentlyJewish: These posts are beyond disrespectful. You don’t need to believe in G_d to know that, but it sure seems to help.
Scoffer: they are extremely disrespectful. However, that’s the point.They are just jokes. … What’s worse? My joke, or the brainwashing of children to believe what is no more than a cult?
PatentlyJewish: do not rebuke the clown … he’ll only hate you for it. – Mishlei [proverbs] by King Solomon.
Scoffer: Oscar Wilde once said that “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence.”
Scoffer: [insert another vile and false quote, falsely citing Torah as the source; e.g. he kept going]
PatentlyJewish: Yes, I was once a negative, sarcastic person who mocked everything. It’s a dismal existence and the logical conclusion of atheism … until you die after your meaningless existence anyway. I still work to improve my character traits and vestiges of these sorts of thoughts from myself.
Scoffer: I figure that the dozens of cases of raped children I investigated, with the addition of having a building almost fall on my head (7WTC) plus being stabbed, shot at… combine that with the numerous free work I still do for religious jews who are in the military, I get a free pass for life. Lol.
Scoffer: “religious” Jews make that.
PatentlyJewish: I see. When Abraham was burying his wife Sarah and Ephron was giving him a real hard time and charging him a ridiculous price, he didn’t say, “My son almost died, my wife did die, Nimrod threw me in a furnace, and now I have to deal with you, you #$#$#$@$# @#$@#$ @#$#@#4.” On the contrary, he passed that test too and spoke respectfully, even after all that, and even to someone trying to rip him off.
PatentlyJewish: Yaakov, on the other hand, was tricked into marrying the wrong wife, cheated by his father-in-law for 14 years, was almost killed by his brother, and did lose his son for 17 years and cried bitterly all those years. After all that, he did complain to Pharaoh about his life. He lost two years of his life for every bad word he spoke. One year for each word spoken, and one year for each word heard. That’s the level by which a tzaddik is judged and that’s how important I believe our words are.
TKO. No further response from the scoffer.
Now I ask you, the reader – who would you rather your father be? Avraham Avinu or Richard Dawkins? In Judaism, we are told that people are given a finite number of words to use and we should make the most of them to speak positively and therefore, also be a positive person. Why would Richard Dawkins spend his life fighting something which, to him, is so obviously false? Does he spend this much time arguing that the moon is not made of cheese? What a total waste of a life and waste of words by any reasonable standard. Is there anything in the life of an atheist that pushes them to say they should speak respectfully to someone that they think is beneath them?
The world is beautiful. Life is a challenge and test after test to be passed. See it that way and you win.