I recently started a series of online conversations with someone who reached out to me a few weeks ago looking for wisdom, clarity and insight.
This particular individual studied at Yeshiva for some time and is familiar with many of the classic Jewish works. Nevertheless, in recent years they have felt an increasing disconnect between their Torah knowledge, their life experiences, and the thoughtful data-driven research which they encounter in their workplace.
This individual loves Judaism. But some of the assumptions they were encouraged to adopt in their younger years no longer seem intellectually tenable, and they feel that a number of halachic practices and policies are irreconcilable with how they now see the world.
Given all this, we’ve begun an intellectual journey of discovery in which I am sharing a variety of insights, positions and perspectives which this individual has not previously encountered and which we both hope will help close what has become a significant gap in their life.
Having explained this I would like to share something which this individual said to me in our most recent session which really hit me hard which was that while, some years previously, they’d had conversations on these topics with their peers who were also bothered by these issues, few found people with whom they could talk to or, in terms of answers, satisfactory solutions to their questions. And what happened? While some continue to feel existential unease, others have simply given up their pursuit of trying to bridge their faith and their worldview and have, at least to a large measure, walked away from their faith.
We often think that deep philosophical conversations are ‘interesting’ or ‘stimulating’. But, for some people, they can literally be spiritually lifesaving as they can introduce us to pathways that may have, until now, been hidden to us – or perhaps even, hidden from us.