The Rabbi’s Response

October 27th, 2010 Posted in writing

In an anthology of spiritual writing, author Ben Birnbaum tells the story about how he lost his faith when he was a rabbinical student. He writes that when he decided to tell one of the rabbis that he’d become an atheist and was leaving the seminary, the man “absorbed the news, nodded and said, ‘But you still pray three times a day, right?’”

It seems like a strange response, but perhaps living through the Holocaust, as the man had, taught him that belief and non-belief sometimes co-exist in a person’s soul. Or maybe faith, like love, is something we can fall into and fall out of, and that being “in faith” doesn’t mean we won’t “fall out of faith” from time to time; and “falling out of faith” doesn’t mean we’ll never be back “in faith” again.

So, maybe the rabbi’s response was full of wisdom not just for Ben Birnbaum, but for those of us who are like the man in the gospel who, when Jesus asked him to believe, replied, “I do believe, Lord! Help my unbelief!”

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