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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Can You Respect a Religion You Disagree With?

By Rabbi Benjamin Hecht






The essence of the value of freedom of religion is its demand for tolerance -- and it is easy to demand of the bowler to tolerate the golfer. When we, however, begin to recognize that religious distinctions can impact important, substantive issues, this demand for tolerance becomes much more difficult. The very call for tolerance itself, in such situations, may become an ethical challenge


JewishWorldReview.com | In my last column, I implied that one of the reasons we may wish to perceive religious choices to be solely about methodology -- and not substantive theological and ethical concerns -- is because it is much more uncomplicated thereby to accept the value of freedom of religion. If differences in religious practices are simply matters of style -- how I do spirituality versus how you do spirituality -- it is much easier for people to tolerate, even defend, any diversities between them. We can declare that what we are really doing is ultimately the same -- pursuing the same goal -- just going about it a bit differently.

Religious intolerance can thereby be compared to golfers hating bowlers and bowlers hating golfers. They could still argue over which sport is better, golf or bowling, but, in the end, they must surely recognize that the issue is really one of personal choice. Viewing religion in the same light makes it similarly easier to accept religious diversity. One is just making a personal choice -- and I should be able to accept another's personal choice, especially as it need not impact upon me. I can easily, thereby, advocate for freedom of religion -- for people should be allowed to claim their own path.

What I presented, though, was a problem with this perspective as devout adherents of religions, especially more traditional ones, do not really view their faith in this manner. To them, religion deals with substantive matters and does clearly impact ethical concerns. One's practices and beliefs can, as such, extend beyond the personal and affect other individuals and the general society. It is the result of what one believes to be the true structure of reality. Adherence to a religion, for such individuals, does not mean that one is just embracing a specific way of doing spirituality. Religious belief defines life. By extension, it defines what is right and wrong -- and the adherent accepts this yardstick.



It is within this perspective that freedom of religion becomes something of a challenge. How can a devout adherent accept a value of freedom of religion for, thereby, he/she could be accepting someone doing something wrong? If Joe believes that a certain act is terribly immoral, how can he tolerate Bill's performance of this act? True, within Bill's religious perspective the act is not wrong -- but to Joe, the act is still immoral?

The essence of the value of freedom of religion is its demand for tolerance -- and it is easy to demand of the bowler to tolerate the golfer. When we, however, begin to recognize that religious distinctions can impact important, substantive issues, this demand for tolerance becomes much more difficult. The very call for tolerance itself, in such situations, may become an ethical challenge.

The fact is that freedom of religion as a value is already balanced with other values in our society. We do not let people do anything they may wish because their religion permits it, or even demands it, if this behavior violates certain other values within our society. One of the most difficult areas of the law is the determination of which of our societal values should have precedence when one is in conflict with another.

This is a determination which must be made whenever freedom of religion collides with another societal value. In certain cases, freedom of religion has precedence and, in certain cases, it falls to the other value. How we are to make this determination, however, is not the issue that I am addressing. My question is: how can the adherent of any religion (or even the atheist) -- who believes that his faith (or lack thereof) defines the true reality and offers the correct perspective on what is ethically and morally correct -- even accept a value of freedom of religion when it permits behavior that this person deems incorrect?

I believe that the answer lies in a corresponding value of doubt. Many people seem to believe that any expression of religious doubt reflects a moral weakness and poorly on the object of this belief. In simple terms, doubt is perceived to reflect badly on the Divine. The fact is, though, that doubt, actually, is solely descriptive of a person, reflecting his/her lack of certainty. And this lack of certainty is really just the natural consequence of being human. The Almighty is the only One Who knows the complete truth. We, all human beings, are just struggling to gain some perception of what is really going on. We ultimately, though, do not fully know. Doubt reminds us of this, of our humanity.

In a certain way, it is doubt that may be the cornerstone of freedom of religion. To make decisions within life, one still has to act based upon one's perception of reality -- but there is also place for us to question ourselves. Encountering another with a different perception is one of those places. The call of freedom of religion is a call for tolerance, a call not to be judgmental -- for, while we may presently be arriving at different conclusions we are ultimately all struggling with the same difficulty -- trying to understand life. With humility in what we know, we can express tolerance.

This does not answer all the issues involved with freedom of religion. It may also raise new questions. If freedom of religions is to flow from our doubts, from the thoughtful recognition and reality of human frailty, how are we to relate to dogmatism, with its presentation of absolute surely? And to philosophies of life that attempt to gain adherence by blocking one from questioning? How can we express such freedom of religion to those who do not doubt, who do not express such a value to us?


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In the same vein, it must be remembered that freedom of religion also empowers the individual. As much as it calls upon me to apply humility in tolerating another view, it also grants me the right and ability to follow my conscience and act pursuant to what I think is right.

This is actually the truth of the human condition. If we are too humble and too accepting of our inadequacies, we will never act, never take a step, never grow. We must rely upon our conclusions to go forward. If, though, we are too sure of ourselves, we will not give space to the other and not pause enough to question ourselves and change as is necessary. Life is a balancing act and freedom of religion brings this demand for balance into the public arena.

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Previously:


Does Following a Methodology Make You Religious?

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Rabbi Benjamin Hecht is the Founding Director of NISHMA, an international Torah research, resource and educational endeavour devoted to the fostering of individual inquiry and the critical investigation of contemporary issues. He also serves on the Rabbinical Advisory Board of Koshertube, as Rabbinic Advisor to Yad HaChazakah: the Jewish Disability Empowerment Center and has a regular monthly column in the Toronto-based Jewish Tribune. In addition to his rabbinical ordination, he holds degrees in law (Ll.B.), psychology (B.A.) and administration (M.B.A.).



© 2013, Rabbi Benjamin Hecht. This appeared on the Huffington Post

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