A Halachic Perspective on Emuna
Rabbi, may I eat chocolate with LIFTIT on Pesach? Rabbi, can one put cold food on a hotplate on Shabbat just to warm it a little? Rabbi, if I said Tal U’Matar, do I have to repeat the Amida? Rabbi, Is there an interest problem with paying a higher amount in installments? Rabbi, can I take a haircut on Friday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar?
Common questions that Jews – specifically committed, observant Jews – will ask a rabbi. How about these: Is it okay to be angry with G-d? Can we say that G-d gave the Arabs a free-hand with us? Is He is controlling what is happening to us now?
Do people ask these kind of questions to their rav? Unlikely. But we should. Belief in G-d is a mitzva among the 613 (according to Rambam, the Chinuch, and others). Belief in G-d can be viewed as more than a “regular” mitzva, but it is important to be able to look at it (sometimes) “simply” as a mitzva. Viewing it this way, Belief becomes subject to halachic scrutiny. And should be one of the areas of Jewish Life and Practice which we ask questions about. And we then can relate to the answers. Let’s say that a person has been thinking and feeling lately in a way that he is told is prob- lematic. Perhaps the thoughts contain elements of K’FIRA, denial of G-d or His traits.
Being told by a rabbi you trust that a food that you are eating may be non-kosher, would hopefully lead you to stop eating that food. Being told that the use of a slotted spoon on Shabbat (for certain tasks) is forbidden would hopefully lead a person to stop using it on Shabbat.
Being told that one’s thoughts might contain “improper” elements should lead a person to change for the better. Probably, it won’t be as easy a change as with the other examples. Hey, you can tell me what to eat and what not to eat, but how can you tell me what to think and what not to think? Good question. For sure it is a harder challenge. But Torah, mitzvot, halacha, include what and how we think. So even if the job is harder, we know we have to work on it.
And there’s an added angle here. The mitzva to believe in G-d is not static, like eat matza. Bench after a meal. Say Kiddush. For those kind of mitzvot, there is a specific way to fulfill them, and we should constantly strive to do them better. But with Belief, every new thought and experience, brings us a new way to fulfill the mitzva. <mtc>
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