Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Believe

There's an Abie Rotenberg song called "Conversations in the Womb". I love the song. It's about twins in the womb discussing whether or not there's life after birth. One twin believes that there is a world to come, where we will stand up straight. The other is convinced that life, as we know it now, is all there is.

There are many variations to that analogy.

The believing fetus arguing that, although we don't know exactly what life after birth will be like, we do believe that it exists...while the nonbeliever insists that, since no one has ever returned from there to tell us what it's like, he, as well as most fetuses, doesn't believe in it. Logic dictates that life ends at birth, and until then, we live in total darkness...

The believer talking about a "mother" who nourishes us and takes care of us...who we finally get to see in the next life..and the nonbeliever scoffing at the notion of a Higher Being...

The message is the same. We believe in life after a World to Come. We believe in G-d. The life we are living now is as temporary as the nine months in the womb. It seems to us mortal humans that this is all there is because that is the reality that is available to our senses. That is what logic dictates. But we know the truth. We have an abiding faith in a world beyond the grave. We cherish our unshakeable conviction in life after death. We believe. we?

Do we?

One night, years ago, when my kids were babies, I looked up at the sky, and for one split second, I saw something...felt something...I'd never felt before or since. The sky was so vast...and I, so small...that, for the first time in my life, I believed that there was more to life than I could see. I always knew it, of course, but this was different. I saw Someone pulling the strings. I glimpsed something awesome...that it took my breath away. The sheer immensity of the universe was staggering. And I was able to see how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. I am just one tiny part of this infinite universe, which was in existence thousands of years before I was alive, and will continue to exist long after I'm gone. At that moment, I knew Hashem exists, and He is running the world. I just KNEW.

That fleeting moment had a profound effect on me. Suddenly, things that seemed so important before became...silly. My priorities shifted completely. Clothing? Shoes? Furniture? How meaningless! How insignificant! Life was so much more than that. I was above that.

But then...the moment went on....and I quickly forgot.

But every so often, I get a tiny reminder. Something that recalls that feeling, if only for a moment.

The other day, my little boy and I were waiting for his school bus, and he said, "My Rebbe said that Hashem created whole worlds before this one, and then He destroyed them. I wonder if they had a Torah that tells their story."


I believe.

I do.

I think I do.

I really, really want to.


  1. Wow...

    Stumbled across this blog yesterday, just read her seond post. Fellow blog junkies: This woman is BRILLIANT!

    Mystery Woman: You got some deep, creative, cerebral stuff working for you, and I'll probably keep hitting "refresh", to see if any more nuggets materialize. Keep them coming!


  2. Crises of faith seems to be more and more common today.

  3. Wow. I feel what you feel sometimes too. But kids have the purest faith.

    Im glad I found your blog! Your posts are so insightful.

  4. Menachem...

    Thank you!


    No..I don't think that's what it is. My faith is intact. I just feel it so much more strongly at times, and I wish I can feel it that way all the time.

    Aidel... do. Where does it go? When does that change?

  5. Beautiful post. I love all the connections you make. And that one moment... I hear you.

    FYI, I'm adding you to my blogroll.

  6. Nice analogy with the example of the twin fetuses in the womb. But I think all this "believing" is kinda like the emperor has no clothes. We all claim to believe, but deep inside, in our heart of hearts, we don't believe any of this. The whole concept of "afterlife" is a human reaction to give our sad meaningless existence some semblance if purpose. But deep don't we know we are empty, and moving along like sheep, headed for nowhere. And we don't like it!

  7. Anon

    The existence of g-d doesnt have to do with you believing hes there or not, he either is or isnt and you have no say in it.
    I choose to believe it, you seem like you dont. But how could you tell me he isnt there by saying your heart doesnt feel it? Then you tell me that i dont believe it deep down, just because you feel that way doesnt mean i do and you cant prove i do anyway.
    And besides all this, why in the world would you want to say that your life is meaningless, it doesnt help you in anyway, while atleast believing in after life in the end gives you atleast some satisfaction.

  8. Belief is a layered process.
    Theirs belief that resides in the brain that is constant. It is based on what you've been taught and what you have to believe as true.
    And then on top of that there's "feeeling" the believe. Thats where the variable is. At times you feel it more than other times.
    A lot like love.

  9. Mike:

    You are right, but don't you prove my point as well? You say that "at least believing... gives you some satisfaction". Point is, we "believe" for the purpose of "purpose" itself. Because not beliving would render our existence pointless. So it's a "self justification" mechanism, not necessarily rooted in objective hard cold analysis. We need to give some relevance to it all, so we feel more meaningful and more complex than a goat. Akin to the alcoholic saying that the buzz from the Drambuie makes him feel "happy". Is he REALLY happy? I guess he is...


    Yes, you are right too. Its layered, it's not black and white. Belief has it's peaks and valleys, so your nuanced perspective has merit. But let me ask you, in MOST people, when does "belief" get more potent? What triggers the "feeling" that there is a higher being? I submit that it occurs when we "need" it. When the chips are down. When we are in a funk. Up the creek. The old "theres no athiests in a foxhole" cliche. So, aren't we using "belief" when we need that crutch? then going about our robotic lives when things are smooth, with god being an inconvenient afterthought? Who "really" wants moshiach? Is it the rich tycoon, in perfect health, with a great family, a stunning leggy wife, with the world kissing his ass? Or is it the poor shlub, diabetic, facing foreclosure, being hounded for unpaid tuition for his disabled child and alimony from his bitchy ex?

    One more point you left out. There's still the emperor with no clothes factor. Cuz we "have to " belive, so we all pretend we do. Even you would concede that those who think like me have the propensity to conceal that mindframe. Proof in point: I'm typing to Dave and Mike, and who am I? Nothing mot "anonymous..."

  10. Staying Afloat...

    Thank you!


    On the contrary. In my heart of hearts, I DO believe. It's just when I don't dig as deep that I sometimes have a hard time feeling it.



    It's like the person who said, I'd rather live my life believing and then find out that it wasn't true, then live my life not believing and find out it was true.


    I love the way you expressed that.

    A lot like love....Wow...

  11. I love getting those glimpses that make me feel "I believe". Nature is really amazing. But like most inspiration it lasts for a little while and then we don't think about. You made a good point though, that we can see other things that remind us of that time we were amazed, and it triggers those feelings of belief again.

    As a child I had the innocent strong belief till age 12, when a friend started talking about her brother questioning G-d, and I just couldn't understand it. It didn't make sense that someone wouldn't believe. But hearing that one thing, caused a tiny seed of doubt to be unconsciously planted in me. So that at one point in my teen years I actually did wonder how it all worked. Though I of course still believed.

    Then in seminary I learned about what will happen after Moshiach comes, that life will continue the same, we'll still have computers and such. After I heard that, then I thought to myself, if we still have computers and everything else, then why wouldn't people want Moshiach to come. It will just be a life where we will know Hashem, and everything will be clear to us once again, but we won't stop "living". So it sounds wonderful!