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WHO IS AN AGNOSTIC, A HERETIC, AN APIKORES, OR AN ANGRY JEW


WHAT IS AGNOSTICISM - HOW DOES THE WORLD EXPLAIN IT?

There are Several Types of Agnostics, Heretics or Atheists

Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or vice versa."

Atheism in a broad sense is the absence of belief and the rejection in the existence of any god. Atheists could be placed in two groups: the agnostics' group and the heretics which hold specifically the position that there are no deities whatsoever.

WHAT IS AN AGNOSTIC?

It is a person who believes that nothing is known or nothing can be known about the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. In other word an agnostic is a sceptic, a doubter, a questioner, a challenger, and a scoffer.




Rabbi David Rosenfeld shares in his teaching on Maimonides, [RAMBAM] that there are Five types of Agnostics, namely:


  1.  One who says there is no God and the world has no Director.
  2.  One who says there is a director but it consists of two or more [beings].
  3.  One who says there is a single master, yet he is physical and has an image, human or not, regardless.
  4.  One who says that [god] is not alone, or the first [being] and / or the fashioner of all.
  5.  And one who serves a god other than the Eternal, in order to be an intermediary between him and the Master of the Universe.

What Does Agnostic Mean For Most Jews?


The Jewish situation in our world today is complicated or drastically different than it used to be in the days of previous generations. Some very respected Tzaddikim; such as R. Tzvi Elimelech Hertzberg, who was a Jewish leader in the mid-20th century, used to bemoan the fact that there were no longer true "Apikorsim" (heretics) nowadays. In his day (and certainly in our day today); because the great majority of Jews and non Jews who claim to be atheists, actually have very little idea about what they are talking about. Their knowledge about Judaism is so poor, not even at the level of kindergarten, they are so far from the ancient heretics, they would have to be dubbed plain old ignoramuses ("Am Ha'Aretz"). And in fact, researches have shown that majority of them don't really know what they are rejecting, otherwise with great certainty, they would not so readily reject their millennia-old Jewish heritage.

With the current Jewish situation in mind; let's take a moment to look at the profile of the typical Jew today. He or she may well not even be sure about his Jewish status; he or she might have doubts whether he is Jewish (or half-Jewish) or not. And if he does know, his or her knowledge of and involvement in the religion is likely pitifully scant. At most he perhaps had a few quickly-forgotten lessons before his Bar (her Bat) Mitzvah. Perhaps his parents dragged him to Shul (Synagogue) twice a year for High Holiday services (From Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur to Sukkot). They are sometimes people who don't observe any form of Kashrut whatsover -----

Some times: They do not eat pork in their home, but when they are outside the home, they eat everything.

Now such a person has probably never even heard that the Eternal God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai speaking for the first and unique time, live and directly in human history in ears of an stimately 3 millions people (men, women and children), let alone had the opportunity to study Judaism's fundamentals in depth. If so, how can he be expected to truly know who God is, to believe in the coming of the Messiah, to accept that every word of the Torah is Holy?

I know from the many non-religious Jews I have been in contact with over the years that even many quite sincere ones, who want to grow in their Judaism and Torah knowledge, have literally never even heard of some of the Torah's most fundamental principles, such as the existence of the World to Come. (It's somehow gotten into people's heads that it's a Christian innovation, I haven't the faintest idea how.) (Even more pathetically, such people's entire impression of observant Jews, Israelis, etc. is likely shaped by a biased media, hopelessly warping the little knowledge of Jews and Judaism they have.)

The question is therefore, how does God judge such people? Is He really going to destroy them for not accepting the fundamentals of Judaism? But how can they be faulted for that which they were never given the chance to study and accept? On the other hand, could God actually reward people who might not even have believed in Him? Even if it was not their fault, they can hardly be called God's servants. One relevant point I can add is that many contemporary authorities state that people today who are nonbelievers or wholly unobservant are generally not viewed by us as heretics. The assumption is that their lack of belief is due to lack of knowledge rather than outright rejection. (Some want to extend this even to people who were raised religious but who clearly did not truly get it.) 

Undoubtedly God too understands that the rejection of the Torah on the part of most of world Jewry stems from plain ignorance rather than wanton repudiation. Yet again, even so, what does God do with such people? Perhaps He doesn't hold their lack of belief against them but presumably neither can He reward them. To be honest, I don't have an answer to this dilemma. The only feeble suggestion I can make is that God attempts -- using all means at His disposal -- to give every Jew an opportunity to find out about his or her heritage. God tries to reach every one of His children. Of course there are quite a few of them and much apathy and many misconceptions between them and the truth. Yet God never gives up on us -- in spite of the huge distance which must be spanned.


THE WORLD TO COME - OLAM HABA

We find in the Jewish teaching that virtually all Jews -- as well as righteous Gentiles (Non-Jews) -- are granted a share in the World to Come. God's entire purpose in creation was in order to grant man reward. He thus goes to every extent to find merit in His subjects. Although the sinful must certainly be punished for their wicked deeds, after all punishments are endured and atonement achieved, they too will be granted a humble yet tangible share in the hereafter. However, when we study it furtehr we also find that this principle only goes so far. There are people simply not suited for closeness to God -- either because they knowingly rejected him or ignored God's plan for humanity or because they were just irredeemably evil.


THE SAGES LISTED A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO SHARE IN THE FUTURE WORLD OR HAD AND LOST THEIR SHARE

The following are the ones who do not have a portion in the World to Come, but are rather cut off, they will perish, and will be judged for their great wickedness and sinfulness eternally:

(1) Agnostics; (2) Heretics; (3) Those who deny the Torah; (4) Those who deny the Resurrection of dead; (5) Those who deny the arrival of the Redeemer (i.e. the Messiah) (6) Apostates; (7) Those who cause many people to sin; (8) Those who separate from the ways of the community; (9) One who sins unashamedly (lit. 'with a high hand') and publicly such as Yehoyakim (Jehoiakim); (10) Those who give over [Jews to Gentile authorities]; (11) Those who place fear on the community not for the sake of heaven; (11) Murderers; (12) Those who regularly engage in evil speech (lit., 'Lashon Hara'); (13) One who stretches out his circumcision (making him appear uncircumcised). 


ANGER AGAINST GOD


How do we know the difference between a real Atheist and someone who is simply confused by circumstances and is expressing anger against God?

The story of Moise (Moshele) - Cheeseburger on Yom Kippur

The sippur tells of a Man name Moise in French, who had survived the Shoah, but he lost his only son during the war. And since then, he had been angry at God for all his tragedies. One day he was flying to Israel and next to him was sitting a young religious Jew, somehow the two men exchanged some conversation, in which Moise was quick to tell the young religious man how angry he was at God. Then later on the street of Jerusalem the young man saw Moise on the day of Yom Kippur eating a Cheeseburger. The young man quickly told him that it was capital Crime in the Torah for Jew to eat on Yom Kippur; but Moise responded, I am not a hypocrite, I told you that I am done with him up above. Some how the young man succeeded to convinced him to come a say Kaddish for his lost son, based on Moise's love for his lost son, he quickly threw away the sandwich and followed the young man into the Yom Kippur service which was being held nearby. And to make a long story short; to Moise's shock, the Chazzan leading the Service was his very own son which he thought he had lost, and his anger at God volatized on the act.

Some Ideas or Facts To Know About Jews Who Keep There Options Open To Any Possibility


The avarage Jewish and Non Jewish Ignoramus, are people who grow up in a culturally religious home — and somehome they find that there are lots of great benefits about their cultural upbringing. Their view is that Religion offers them a sense of peace and community, and even some pretty fun holidays (Lots of food and drinks). They genuinely enjoy all the delicacies and delightfully religious rituals and events that Parents dragged them to. Some people really appreciate those moments which allowed them to have met dearest childhood friends. And now as grown up people with University Degrees, they identify themselves as Agnostics, Why? 


Most Of Them Are Fine With Religions

They don't really hate religions. In fact, many agnostics them were raised religious, and still consider themselves as culturally religious. They may simply not believe Judaism or whatever the other belifs, is the one true way to a heaven. They are not convinced that God or not, they are still considered as a culturally religious, because of their family have been for many generations. And some with or without their cultural religion, they still have some respect for religion because it has inspired other people to do great things for humanity and because it makes some family members happy, and also because it is a part of our world’s history. It deserves respect.

And They are Also Fine With Atheism

Atheism is like religion by its own. Atheism is just as hard for me to wrap my head around as religion. It really is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and value it as well.

They Don't Need Or Want 'Proof' – They’ve Heard it all - So they Believe 

Agnostics understand that there are reasons people believe in the creation of the universe by a higher power, and we also understand that there's reason to believe our existence could have been a strictly spontaneous and scientific phenomenon. But they don't really want to hear any of it, because they are under the false impression that they've already heard all of it, and they still decided to be agnostic.

4. They Find Plenty Of Peace In their Uncertainty 

Being agnostic has brought more peace than religion ever could for some of them. They are perfectly comfortable not knowing, or even thinking I'm capable of knowing, all the answers to all the endless metaphysical questions we humans think up. The fact is, as one of them puts it, "my entire existence is going to be less than a blip on this universe, and I think it would be pretty arrogant to assume I could ever know with total certainty that there is or isn't a God out there calling the shots". And so like this person, a great number of people out there are not bothered with by knowing or not knowing. They rather, prefer to simply accept that everything about life and death is uncertain, and that brings them a lot more peace than fighting that fact ever could. 


5. Open To (Almost) Every Possibility 

Another reason agnostics choose to be agnostic is because it's so freeing to think that, concerning the metaphysical, anything is possible. Being agnostic means you can question everything, question nothing, or do both. It means you are open to, and can genuinely value, every spiritual belief system without having to pick one to hold onto forever. 

It's the most non-committal way to commit to a belief system, and because of this, it's never constricting or suffocating in the way that religion can be, (and definitely was for this agnostic) and it's not as inflexible as atheism can be either. Essentially, agnosticism is spirituality's smorgasbord — and I love it. 




















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