Home > Community News > From the Bimah – July/August 2019

Have we lost our ability to strike a balance between being too religiously extreme on the one hand, and too secular on the other?.

Why can’t we just do life in moderation? Does it have to be an either or scenario?
Do we have to be either religious, or either secular, or, is there a middle way which strikes a balance between living our lives not being too bound by the dictates of religious ritual and practice on the one hand, and not being too swayed by the currents of secular modernity on the other? This is a question for our times and the book of Numbers which, as we know
was written long before our time, addresses this very
point.

Numbers 6:1–21, contains the law of the Nazirite – the individual who undertakes the special rules of holiness and abstinence: not to drink alcohol (or anything made from grapes), not to have their hair cut, and to avoid contact with the dead . What the Torah does not make clear, though is firstly why a person might wish to undertake this form of abstinence, and secondly whether it considers this choice to be commendable, or merely permissible.

On the one hand the Torah calls the Nazirite “holy to God”, and on the other, it requires such a person, at the end of the period of their vow, to bring a sin offering. What are we to make of this. If indeed the Nazirite, is in his / her nature being saintly and holy, than why should such a person be required to bring a sin offering at the end of their Nazarite term??


The simplest answer is this. We are called on by God
to live in the world, not escape from it. To be part of society in society, and not seclusion.

The Nazarite although saintly in its intent, is a person of extremes, and Judaism is not intended to be a religion of extreme, and for that, he must bring a sin offering.

In a world of either or, a hard Brexit, or soft Brexit, too religious or too secular, we must strive to find the “middle way.” The way of moderation and balance. To avoid extremes on the one hand, and recklessness on the other. .

Our communal mission continues to pride itself in delivering a religious experience which is well balanced and meaningful. Come and engage with us if you haven’t already done so, and experience the beauty of engaging in a “Normal for Norfolk” traditional Jewish way of life.