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We acknowledge it as a process that often results in change in Jewish practice.We state clearly that we sometimes are trying to change (or “reconstruct”) Judaism.Of what importance, then, is the painstaking process of Torah study?
Our study will help put our decisions into this deeper context.
Torah study is, among other things, a spiritual discipline, a practice to habituate us to the use of the language and the thought patterns of holiness.
Examples of such learning include an embrace of democracy and contemporary science.
Many of us would say that the most important thing for a Jew or for anyone is simply to treat others well, to be a mensch.
Jewish texts provide the foundation upon which this process of discovery and action is built.
Torah as process involves wrestling with received texts and practices and bequeathing new texts and practices to our descendants.Like prayer, it accustoms us to looking for ultimate value, for right and wrong and for God or godliness in our lives.We need not believe that everything or even anything in the Torah is God-given, nor do we need to agree with everything we read in order to let Torah study be an exercise in spiritual conditioning.Even when we have concluded what the right action is, our efforts to do the right thing are often hampered by distractions, habit, temptations, accumulated hurts and other factors in both our personal and communal lives.Study can place our decisions in a holy context that can help us maintain the motivation and clarity of purpose we need to follow through with the actions that we have chosen.The Reconstructionist analytical framework, based on the insight that Judaism is a civilization, means that we view Jewish forms of practice and texts as Jewish symbols or vehicles for often universal values and norms.Each civilization is defined by specifics that are unique, and it needs them in order to make abstract values tangible and compelling.But Hillel goes on to tell the Roman, “The rest is commentary. ” There are several possible answers: We study Torah (in the broad sense) as part of our decision-making processes because treating others right isn’t always easy.Real-life situations are often complicated, making it unclear which values should shape our actions.Torah is more than the Five Books of Moses; it is the name Jews give to the process of discovering a godly way of living.Torah is a process involving a constant interplay between thought and action.