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What is Jewish integrity?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

Library » Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew? | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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 “Jewish” means an expressing of the Jewish soul, usually via the religion called Judaism, and “integrity” means keeping what’s inside in and what’s outside out. (The Titanic lost its watertight integrity when it was slashed open to the sea by an iceberg.) Therefore, Jewish integrity means maintaining one’s Jewish beliefs and identity.

How do I maintain my Jewish integrity?

1. Study Torah

What you don’t know can hurt you. Your mind is like a vacuum—if it is empty of Torah, other ideas will rush in to fill the void and satisfy your quest for meaning. And also, the only way to know if a viewpoint on any given subject is against the Torah is to know what the Torah viewpoint is on that subject. Either way, studying Torah is the way to go.

Now that you’ve studied some Torah and got some Jewish ideas insida yer noggin, you can make an informed decision: am I, as a Jew, allowed to do that?
2. Perform Mitzvahs

Studying Torah is the theory behind Judaism; performing Mitzvahs is the practice of Judaism. Studying Torah, although a Mitzvah in itself, is an intellectual/spiritual thing, while performing Mitzvahs takes Torah to the street—being a physical thing (Tefillin, Tzitzit, Lulav and Etrog), a Mitzvah is a the ultimate symbol and expression of Jewish integrity and Jewish pride.

3. Reject the ideas and things that Judaism are not

Now that you’ve studied some Torah and got some Jewish ideas insida yer noggin, you can encounter various situations and make an informed decision: am I, as a Jew, allowed to do that? 

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Etrog
A citron; a greenish-yellow citrus fruit. We are required to take an Etrog on the holiday of Sukkot and shake it together with a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow.
Lulav
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.
Tzitzit
Literally: the fringes which are attached to four cornered garments, as Biblically mandated. Normally this word refers to a t-shirt sized four cornered garment which contains such fringes, and is usually worn beneath the shirt.