A Plausible Faith in an Uncertain World – Yom Kippur 5771 / 2010

A few years ago, a family I was working with had a tragedy happen – a sudden and shocking loss. In the weeks following their calamity, I met with them several times. On one of those occasions, the mother of the family – I’ll call her Miriam – told me that she didn’t know what she believed in anymore. She certainly didn’t know if she believed there was a God anymore. She had been pushed past her breaking point, and there was no world-organizing system, no master narrative that she could put these events into so that her life still made sense.

Miriam was exhausted and despairing over her ability to cope. I had never been through a loss like hers, and I wasn’t really sure what to tell her. To get some advice, I called a rabbinic colleague, Rabbi Rosalind Glazer, and told her I wasn’t sure how to address this person’s crisis of faith.

Rabbi Glazer responded by sharing something she had learned as a hospital chaplain. She said, “When people have just lost their anchor and don’t know what they’re certain about anymore, sometimes it can help to ask them to look inward and identify what they still do believe in, whatever it might be.”

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