The House in Toronto last night, a bold topic was explored. Is religion killing Judaism? The guest speaker was Rabbi Michael Skobac, education director and senior counselor for Jews for Judaism.
The meat and potatoes of his answer was more a combination of responses on the two sub-topics of why people prefer spirituality over religion and why religion is seen as a crutch for those who need it.
"We don't always hear the music," Skobac said, and sometimes, "we hear the wrong music." The statment meant that religon is often viewed as a list of do's and don'ts, rules and laws, is bureaucratic and divides. So many people tend to look at religion in a negative context. Keep the sanctity of the sabbath, don't mix milk and meat - one a commandment, the other a dietary law – that are upheld by many yet prove difficult these days for those more assimilated to live by.
That last part about how religion divides was Skobac's own outlook on Judaism when he was a teenager. That outlook has obviously softened in the context of his rabbinical work. His most snackable tidbit from last night's discussion, in retrospect, was the Rabbi's twin analogies of comparing religion to reading a menu and spirituality to consuming the meal; Spirituality then being preferred over religion, as it's more filling than just reading what the belief system has to offer.
The final takeaway from the night's lesson was that, when taken on its own, religion may have a looming expiry date if it's only deemed applicable to those leaning on it to solve life's problems. The way I see it and with reflection on some of the lessons imparted by Rabbo Skobac, is that the solution to resolving various matters in one's personal life is to work on tikkun hamidot, meaning bettering your character traits while learning in tandem from the precepts of Torah.