Who Is Being Hurt by This?

As a rabbi, meditation instructor and a man in my early 30’s, I’m not sure this bothers me so much. We live in an era where there is cross-cultural sharing of ideas all the time, and it often yields good results.

No one owns teshuvah. Your friend sharing it with his meditation group is similar to a yoga teacher ending the class by sharing a Buddhist idea. Yes, yoga is technically a practice that comes from an Indian/Hindu cultural context, so bringing in something Buddhist could also be critiqued from that angle. We see things like this all the time, and most of us don’t balk. The reason? Because really no person or tradition is hurt by this kind of sharing or cross-pollination.

When I was right out of college, I often agonized over the ways in which Jewish teachers were adapting Buddhist meditation techniques and plopping them into Jewish settings, all while ignoring the underlying theological and philosophical difficulties this raised. It’s a question I’m still interested in, but I’m less angry about it. Overtime I came to see, firsthand, how many people were benefitting from these techniques, even if these ideas were not presented in their full complexity.

Maybe learning about teshuvah is just what a person sitting in the meditation group — who might, after all, be Jewish and estranged from the tradition — needs at this particular moment, to help work through a personal issue or repair a relationship. I don’t see any reason why there’s a problem with sharing it.

Rabbi Seth Wax is a rabbi at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn, New York.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Who Is Being Hurt by This?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close