Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life By Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

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MishMash_BookWhen bad events challenge our childhood faith in God’s goodness or even in God’s
existence, “it is not only permissible but a religious obligation” to question our beliefs, says Rabbi Harold Kushner.

But then seek answers to the questions.


“The only religiously unacceptable response is to reject religion entirely and close your mind to further speculation,” says Kushner, 80, and rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Mass.

“To be a religiously serious person need not mean banishing all doubt,” he says in his delightful, insightful 13th book. What it means is “a readiness to live with doubt” and giving God the benefit of the doubt, “as we would for any person we cared about.”

Doubts about God don’t necessarily mean a lapse of faith but “can be seen as manifestations of faith, concerns born of caring enough to be troubled by life’s unevenness,” he says.

Kushner sometimes surprises people by telling them “that there is no commandment in Judaism to believe in God.” The first of the Ten Commandments “is not a commandment at all,” he says, but an explanation of “why the assembled people should obey the subsequent precepts.”

That statement appears in a chapter called “Religion is what you do, not what you believe.” Many others are in the especially good chapter, “Leave room for doubt and anger in your religious outlook.” He notes that even Moses got angry with God.

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