We live in a world that is broken. Soaring divorce rates, an economy that rewards the few and punishes the many, religious-fueled hatred--the headlines paint a grim picture and we feel as if we are victims in a society that desperately needs fixing. But as Rabbi Shmuley Boteach reveals in his new book, "Renewal," our society can only be made whole again when we as individuals make the choice to live a life based on values.
For too long, conversations about values have been derailed by political movements trying to score points over hot-button issues like gay marriage or abortion. Boteach, one of our wisest and most respected counselors and religious experts, reaches deep into our history and into our shared religious legacy to revive the key values of Judaism. He presents these age-old ideas as guideposts for living in the modern world. These values, while rooted in Jewish tradition, can be applied to anyone in the modern world--Muslims, Christians, Hindus--who want to renew life's meaning and to understand what is truly precious in this world.
Here is a sampling of the major values of the Jewish faith, explaining their origins and how they can be applied in everyday life:
"Destiny: " a rejection of humankind's sinfulness and instead believe in its perfectibility.
"Redemption: " world redemption must precede personal salvation. The betterment of the community must always outweigh the perfection of the individual.
"Action: " what you do is more important than what you believe. The concept of mitzvah--good deeds, righteous actions--is the most central Jewish value of all.
"Enlightenment: " belief in the illumination that comes from the pursuit of knowledge.
"Marriage: " the softening of the masculine by exposure to the feminine. Jewish families are strong because Jewish men have been domesticated for thousands of years.
"Struggle: " it is wrestling with our nature, rather than attaining perfection, in which we achieve true righteousness.
"Sacred Time: " Whereas other religions sanctify space, Jewish tradition privileges moments. The Sabbath day, the holiest day of the week, saves us from frittering our lives away on ephemera.