Saturday, October 04, 2014
Defining the Sacred
We're in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days at the moment, the time of year when we, as Jews, are supposed to account for our actions over the past year, atone for our sins, pray, fast, and eat (not necessarily in that order). Although I stopped being Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observing) many years ago, and I don't follow all the laws of Kashruth (kosher diet), I do observe Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to some extent. I have often explained to people who I won't eat something or do something on a particular day, citing my religious observance as the reason. Some find this odd. After all, I am not what one would call a religious person. But saying that you are doing something because of religion seems to label you as such. So, what gives? I used to say that I do a few token things that connect me with my heritage, because we live in a world where nothing is sacred. This was met with objection by someone once. She said she goes to environmental rallies because she holds the environment to be sacred, for example. I stood corrected. I was equating "sacred" with "religious." What is truly sacred in the world, is what is sacred to us. Over the years, I have found that attending rallies on social causes and taking a stand for social justice is a direct expression of my spirituality - even though such things are not part of the 613 Commandments that make up the Jewish Code of Law, for example. Social justice, to me, is sacred. Perhaps instead of nothing being sacred, nothing is universally sacred, as was pointed out to me this morning when chatting on this topic. What is sacred to you?