David Marshak – Adam Day 2018 Speech

For thousands of years human beings have been using words to try to explain to themselves and the others what it means to be human, what is our place in the universe and the wisest of those people have created ideas which come to us in a rich structural heritage of human beings. We have the Veda, we have the Torah we have the Quran.

We have all of these wonderful scriptures, all addressing the same thing and we can get confused by the words we use, because the word we use are not the actual experiences that the words are based on. So that what we find for instance, if we really were to think about is that our lived experience of being religious is very much the same regardless of the scriptures we are following, regardless of the traditions we are in. The lived experience of being religious is beyond what we can explain with words. What it means to be a Muslim or Jew is beyond what we can explain with words and part of that is because we have minds that go beyond anything we can understand. We have the part of our minds that we use to talk to each other that we come up our words with, it is  just a small part of our minds and not the most important part of our minds. There is the other part of our mind. The mind that is making us see dreams, that is so real that when we are experiencing them we think that that is reality and when we wake up sometimes we cant adjust to the fact that there is a different reality than that reality that this part of our mind that we don’t understand has created for us.

Now, its that part of our mind that the great sages had been using when they come up with the scriptures. Now I have followed an ancient tradition that goes so far back, I mean we have quoted some from the Torah. It goes so far back that we don’t know where it was written, we don’t know who wrote it for sure. We scribe it to Moses, we think it came maybe thirty-two hundred  years ago but we don’t know any of that for sure. We are not actually totally sure what all the words mean. We have commandments we are not sure exactly how to follow the commandments. We have a commandment, is that an example of something we are suppose to do, or is it something we are suppose to specifically do and Jews have spent thousands of years working with that, working with this ancient scripture. One of the characteristic of that scripture is that it doesn’t claim that its the only revelation, it doesn’t claim that Jews are the only people that have the truth. Its very respectful to other traditions where they behave well. For instance if you are building a statue and you sacrifice your child to that statue, well no, our scriptures have no respect at all for a people that punish people for being kind to strangers. They have no respect at all for people who sacrifice their children and kill them, they have no respect at all for people who are unkind to the other human beings. But you can be kind to other human beings and be loving and be a good parent without actually being in any religious tradition. The fact that we have in ourselves to absorb all of the different information that is available to us, take from it what we want and go a head and leave good advise.

We have actually people who are Atheist who really in my mind are Atheist because the don’t like the literal anthropomorphic idea that there is some giant human being in the sky and this is the problem with words. The word God is used so often in that context that there are people who say no lets get away with God. There are people who say lets get away with religion because religion can be divisive. It should not be divisive.  Judaism came along at a time when they didn’t have a concept of religion. They had wisdom, they had knowledge, they had good people but they didn’t have the concept that the people over here had something wrong with them because they had a different religion, rather they may not have followed the God of the Jews but the God of the Jews chose the Jews not to be the best people or to be better people but to follow a particular way of life, to follow what is in the Torah and we were chosen to receive the Torah to follow it, to study it and we have done that. In fact there is an oral torah that came with the Torah that you find in the Bible that was passed on from Moses to other people. It was passed on to Aaron (brother of Moses). God spent forty days with Moses according to our scriptures. Well the actual book we have is like notes to the lectures that Moses got and then Moses passed on much more of that to other people and it came down and people have thought about it and people have tried to understand all up to the current day. So, it’s a mistake to let ideas about religions divide people. Rather its the inter core ideas about love and caring for each other that we find in every great religious tradition that should unite us as people, that should unite us in caring for the environment, that should unite us in loving every human being. There is a story that I am sure you have heard that a Pharaoh who didn’t listen to God, chased the children of Israel to the sea, the sea opened, the children of Israel fled and this is an example of a kind of ruler one might say we have one now. This ruler was so far from God, so far from understanding who he was and who God was that he charged after the children of Israel between the parted walls of the sea thinking that it would stay open for him and he drowned and then this is very important the children of Israel sang about their deliverance and the angels started to sing and God rebuke the angels for singing, He said these people that drowned are also my beloved children. Its not our place to judge other human beings. Its not our place to decide if this human being is good or that human being is bad or that I am better then this person because I know this and that person is worse them me because they know that or they do that. Its not our place to judge other people. We can push for what is right, we can push for the good, we can try to share our knowledge and understanding but its not our place to decide what God thinks of other human beings, that is up to God.


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