I choose from the systems

by Sofia

I choose from the systems of the philosophers always that which will make me happier and at the same time can make me better. . . . I rejoice in every religious custom which does not lead to intolerance and misanthropy; rejoice, like my children, in every ceremony that has something true and good for its basis; endeavor as far as possible to eliminate the false and abolish nothing until I am able to replace its good effect by something better.

Moses Mendelssohn, my other homeboy.

Mendelssohn defended Judaism using the reason of the Enlightenment, as an element for good. My sentiments about religious practice as of late are informed by the thought of Spinoza and Mendelssohn, and currently lie somewhere between the two. This makes little sense since Spinoza was a rational deist who rejected the ceremony and ritual of Judaism, caring only for religion of reason and natural knowledge, and Mendelssohn defended religious observance while rejecting the rabbis’ ecclesiastical authority. The latter is a firm believer in the truth of the practiced mitzvot, while the former cast anything that was not founded in reason to the wind, so there is no clear space between the two to sit on and live in, but I guess that explains why I’m so torn about these ideas and what to practice myself.

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