Parashat Naso

Surrogate Judaism

Some try to "outsource" their Judaism, but this approach has severe limits.

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Of course, there is a reason why this approach is so appealing--there are those who have fallen so out of touch with even the most basic Jewish ritual and practice that they feel like their ancestors who toiled in the fields, with blessings totally beyond their grasp, and cannot imagine coming in. Most of us, though, are like the city dwellers, who were obligated to come and be in front of the Priests as they offered their blessing.

We may rely on religious leaders to create ritual experiences for us to embrace, but we cannot live vicariously through those leaders. Despite the urge to let others "be Jewish on our behalf," we must be physically and spiritually present to experience the full blessing of God's presence, of God's face.

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Rabbi Joshua Heller

Rabbi Joshua Heller is the rabbi at Congregation B'nai Torah in Atlanta, GA. Previous to that, he served as director of the Distance Learning Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary.