Judaism for Beginners

written by Pamela Granovetter of Netanya, Israel

Which of the following do you believe:

The world created itself, or was created by a higher power that created and then abandoned its own handiwork. We are, therefore, on our own. Justice is a hit-and-miss proposition, and life is random and based on luck.

The world was created by God. God created the world for a reason. He is interested in everything that goes on, and, with a "Mind" like an infinite computer, He knows what each individual person is doing, feeling and even thinking. God communicates with us if we know how to "hear" Him. In order to make our lives richer and fuller, God gave us a handbook for life, which is called the "Torah" (the Five Books of Moses).

For those who believe in (1) above and have no doubt about it, and no interest in discussing the matter, I wish you the best of luck and as painless a life as possible.

For those who believe in (2) above, or who have no firm opinion yet, or who believe in (1) above but are willing to entertain other philosophies, please stay tuned. I would like to share my Torah learning with you, right from the beginning of the book (Genesis). We will discover that the Torah proves the existence of God and specifically tells us what God expects us to do and why. In addition, the Torah provides a behavior code that will enhance our lives - no matter how happy we are already - and gives us a spiritual identity, peace of mind, and tranquillity. By adhering to God's behavior code as best we can (and no one can do it all), we will not only improve our lives as individuals, but we will improve the entire world. In addition, we will have a better understanding of the world as it is today, and of world history.

We will go very slowly, examining only a sentence or two of the Torah every week, along with a line from "The Ethics of Our Fathers" and a line from King Solomon's "Book of Proverbs." This is a mere "drop in the bucket," but learning Torah isn't easy and takes a lot of effort. As you will see, the effort won't be wasted. You will feel the results in a few weeks. You will feel that your life has taken on new meaning, that you are a deeper person, and that you have more to think about, talk about, and do than ever before.