Rabbi Rami on being authentic, spirituality vs. religion, and aliens.
Q: I have a dear friend who is always urging me to find my authentic self. How do I do that?
Rabbi Rami: The self is a never-ending flow of sensation: physical, emotional, and intellectual, none more authentic than another. Being authentic isn’t a state of being but a trait of behavior. Different religions and philosophical systems articulate this trait in different ways, but the core is always the same: “What is hateful to you, do not do to another” (Talmud, tractate Shabbat 31a). This is the only authentic self you need. You don’t find it. You live it.
Q: Our son came home from college over the holidays and announced he was a born-again Christian. We are Jews, and he insists we convert lest God burn us in hell. What can I say to him about this?
Rabbi Rami: If he were my son, I’d ask him if he loves me regardless of my religion. If he says he does, I’d ask him why he is choosing to worship a God whose capacity to love is less than his own. This might open a conversation that would soften his views if not change his faith. If he says he doesn’t love me, I’d stop paying his college tuition.