The great institutions of modernity were not constructed to provide meaning. Science tells us how the world came to be but not why. Technology gives us power but cannot tell us how to use it. The market gives us choices but no guidance as to which choices to make. Modern democracies give us a maximum of personal freedom but a minimum of shared morality. You can acknowledge the beauty of all these institutions, yet most of us seek something more.This is just a bit from a really great piece written to lead into Rosh Hoshana (the Ten Days of Repentance) which begin tomorrow.
Meaning comes not from systems of thought but from stories, and the Jewish story is among the most unusual of all. It tells us that God sought to make us His partners in the work of creation, but we repeatedly disappointed Him. Yet He never gives up. He forgives us time and again. The real religious mystery for Judaism is not our faith in God but God’s faith in us.
This is not, as atheists and skeptics sometimes claim, a comforting fiction but quite the opposite. Judaism is God’s call to human responsibility, to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence. That is why Jews are so often to be found as doctors fighting disease, economists fighting poverty, lawyers fighting injustice, teachers fighting ignorance and therapists fighting depression and despair.
Judaism is a supremely activist faith for which the greatest religious challenge is to heal some of the wounds of our deeply fractured world. As [Viktor] Frankl put it: The real question is not what do we want from life but what does life want from us.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Challenge of Jewish Repentance
Rabbi Sacks's article is one we can all benefit from whether we share the Jewish faith or not. And Catholics know that the Jews are our elder brothers in the faith so it is a good thing to get that extra perspective.
Be sure to read the whole thing.