This is the blog of Rabbi Dov Gottesfeld
I came up with the expression: “TORAHOLIC” © when I concluded that a meaningful, and an authentic Jewish identity is unquestionably obvious to all not by the clothes and ornaments that practicing and non-practicing Jews wear, nor by the way they pray – because there is no uniformity in the countless varieties of the prayer books and praying styles among the numerous denomination. Jews cannot even be identified by the many of the mitzvot (commandments or good-deeds) they perform. Other religions perform similar “good deeds” practices as well, without even being commanded to do so. I became convinced that there had be only one way for all Jews to prove that there is a meaningful and an authentic Jewish identity. My research yielded only repeated shared descriptions by past and present Jewish thinkers, whom I learned from a great deal and to whom I had much respect. Yet, I found it undoable to actualize their theories of what an authentic Jewish identity is.
During the years of my life, and especially during my studies in the rabbinic academy, I brushed away complimentary comments by fellow students with whom I was engaged in conversations. They complimented me on my knowledge and my ability to embed relevant quotes from the Torah and the bible into my part of the conversation. It was second nature to me, because I have been reading the bible since I was a child, out of mere amazement of what I could read into it. While writing a term paper on Theological Reflection for chaplaincy class, I came across a few paragraphs in a book* that discusses the art of genuine communication between a chaplain and his client or patient. The following is my adaptation to Judaism and the summation of those paragraphs: “Reciting relevant verses from the Teaching of the Torah, in daily communication, promotes a truly genuine conversation. It validates the integrity of the speaker, because it clarifies his/her perspective, understanding and actions based on experience, belief and tradition.” Reflecting on my brief summation, I realized that in order to be able to accomplish that, one needed to, avidly, study the Torah and the bible, and also memorize it. Not surprisingly so, soon after, the quote from Joshua 1:8 popped into my head: “Let not this book of Teaching cease from your lips, but recite it day and night…” Well. studying the Torah day and night, as Joshua was commanded to do by God, turned him, no doubt, into… a “Toraholic.” And me, as well.
I truly believe, that by introducing into the course of a conversation relevant Torah and biblical quotes, and actual examples together with the speaker’s own perspectives and convictions- no matter what subject is discussed – would point and assure the listener, and for that matter anyone withing an ear shot that the speaker is a genuine and an authentic Jew. What’s more important is that the speaker, by doing so, will validate his/her own authentic Jewish identity.
* “The Art of Theological Reflection” by Killen & De Beer