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February 19, 1988 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-19

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.(\Atgl-c--E, EARLY




with a


just for having us come out and show
you how we can organize and give you
More Space! (while they last)

We can organize closets, under sink, kit-
chen pantry, kitchen cupboard and much


you take advantage of this
opportunity we'll give you


(while they last)


previous sales excluded



The Closet People

78ripayi fralay19„




5550 Drake Road, West Bloomfield
(Between Maple and Walnut Lake Roads)

If You Know

Continued from preceding page

Context but would not bear
the scrutiny of mathematics
or science. When faced with
the weaknesses of their
system, the rabbis would
resort to fanciful explana-
tions or simply fall back on
Taylku. It sounds like the
name of a Japanese restau-
rant, but it is the Talmudic
formula for questions that
had no answers. Tay-ku essen-
tially means, have faith, some
day the Messiah will come
and answer the seemingly
I was comfortable in ac-
cepting the Tay-kus of
Judaism. Then I met Louis
Jacobs. "
Rabbi Jacobs was the first
pious Jew I met who I felt
really wanted answers. And in
seeking them, some of the old
shibboleths fell, but to my
amazement they did not
break. Because of his faith,
they emerged alive and well
and even fortified.
In one class, Rabbi Jacobs
tackled the tricky question of
who wrote the Hebrew Bible.
The Orthodox tenet I grew up
with was that the Torah was
written by God on Mount
Sinai and given to Moses. On
an intellectual and historical
level, I knew this scenario was
unlikely, but on an emotional
level I somehow needed to
believe it was true.
In class, Rabbi Jacobs of-
fered a full range of views,
from the Orthodox to the
scholarly, and demonstrated
the weaknesses and strengths
of each. In the end, he favored
the theory of four different
authors living at different
times. This, he said, was ob-
vious from different writing
styles, inconsistencies in the
texts and the development of
Jewish law through antiquity.
After class, I walked Rab-
bi Jacobs home and told him
what troubled me. "Once you
punch holes in it, " I asked
him, "and reveal that it is not
all God-given, what happens
to your faith? What is your
He pointed out a beautiful
tree on the school lawn. "Do
you know how that tree
began?" he asked. He bent
down and picked up an acorn
and rolled it in his fingers.
"Just because you know how
it began doesn't mean you
cannot enjoy the tree."
I relaxed in its shade and
gave it all some thought.
Is the Tbrah divine? An af-
firmative answer is easy if
you know one religion; But if
you know many, the ques-
tions multiply and chase each
other in a wild circle. Is the
New 'Testament divine? Is the
Koran? And if they are, what
about the Ibrah?
Or, is it possible that none
of the holy books are God-
given? Maybe they simply

represent man's striving to
understand and ultimately
reach the divine.
At that moment, I wanted
to devote my life to these
questions. I thought of Bill
Doe, my neighbor who be-
longed to the Roman Catholic
church on the corner, and how
he seemed in some mystical
way to be pointing me toward
a life of study.
A short while later, Bill
disappeared from our street.
One day, I ran into the Judge
and asked what had hap-
pened to our garrulous
neighbor. "He's at Mass
General," the Judge informed
me somberly. "Cancer."
When I got home, I called
the hospital, and the switch-
board put me through to Bill.
He sounded tired, but he was
anxious to hear news about
my family and about the rest
of the celebrities on Chester
Street. When I asked how he
was doing, he sounded con-
cerned but upbeat in his
finest military manner. "One
operation down," he said,
"and one to go." The first
operation, he said, was not
successful in removing all the
"Bill, tell me, is there
anything I can do for you?" I
"Just pray for me, Rabbi,"
he replied.
As a reporter I had often
encountered death, covering
plane crashes and violent
holdups. But as a "rabbi" —
Bill's rabbi, anyway — I was
I reached down deep into
the well of theological studies
in which I was steeped that
year, but found no answers to
the suffering of my friend.
And I knew that even if the
ministry were to be my
primary calling, the answers
- to some questions would re-
main beyond my grasp.
Yet, there was one thing
that I had learned about all
religious systems. There is a
point when book learning
stops and faith begins. The
only thing I could do was
what Bill had asked. I prayed
for his soul. ❑

Copyright • 1987 by the New
York Times Co. Reprinted by



Jerusalem — Treatment of
hypertension may be improv-
ed as a result of the discovery
by a Hebrew University of
Jerusalem researcher. High
blood pressure can be induc-
ed in some animals by injec-
ting a substance produced in
the brain of cows.

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