My Jewish Moments: Shmuley Boteach

September 22, 2009

Shmuley Boteach is a rabbi and author

Most significant Jewish moment?

My most significant Jewish moment came under the wedding canopy when I felt that in a ceremony rich with spiritual meaning I was being joined to a nobler, gentler, more stable soul than my own, and in so doing I was being cleansed of much of the turmoil of my childhood.

Which biblical character would you like to meet, and why?

Moses. I’d ask him how he had the unimaginable courage to wrestle with God and demand that his name be removed from the Torah if God carried through his threat of exterminating the Jewish people in the wake of the sin of the Golden Calf. I have met some tough Jews in my life but this is in a different league, a boldness that has no parallel in the annals of any apocalyptic literature.

Favourite mitzvah?

Honouring the Sabbath. As I go through life I feel the noise of the world and the incessant demands made of me permeating my very soul so that I know no peace. Immersing myself in the legal constraints of Shabbos is, quite simply, the most liberating thing I do all week.

Israel for me is…

The place where my identity as a Jew becomes most whole. Outside of Israel I cultivate an inner Jewish environment that travels with me wherever I go and affords me the strength to live by the courage of my Jewish convictions. But in Israel that inner environment is mirrored by an outer environment, affording perfect Jewish synthesis and clarity.

Favourite Jewish book?

The Book of Genesis is filled with characters who have become world icons and are presented in all their magnificent and flawed glory. The story of Adam and Eve failing to appreciate paradise and causing their own eviction is the most profound morality tale ever told. Abraham wrestling with his ideas of a compassionate God as he is ordered to murder his son. Jacob wrestling with an angel. These are the most dramatic and soul-wrenching stories ever told.

Last updated: 3:37pm, September 22 2009