Studying religion academically can sometimes be challenging as a person that identifies religiously. I have seen it cause people to loss their faith or cause severe frustration. You spend so much time reading religious text asking questions of historical context, literary structure and other scholarly inquires that it is easy to loss sight of where you, G-d and your community fit into the picture. It is too easy to get caught up in study guide and exam questions and stop asking how the text is speaking to you and what connection you have to the text.
As I begin a new program where I will be asked to read Jewish text from a critical, academic perspective, I want to remind myself that I can learn something deeper and spiritual from all of these text and that should be just as much of a priority. A quote I have adapted from a friend is what I repeat when I begin to loss sight of this:
Stop reading Buber* to just learn about Buber. Read Buber* to learn about G-d, yourself and the world we live in.
*Martin Buber is a 20th century Jewish Theologian. You can substitute his name in the quote for any religious thinker or text and it still rings true. This is the perspective I want to strive for as I begin this new school year and the New Year.
Inspiration can be found anywhere, but what a shame to ignore it in texts that traditionally and fiercely address these topics just because they are assigned readings. That would truly be a disservice to my spiritual self.