Cynicism vs. scepticism
As we approach the holiday of Shavuot, it is worth asking the question, "Why bother?" What difference does it make that one follows Torah? And I think Rabbi Adlerstein addresses it:
Life is hard. Life is difficult. Life is unfair. It is easy to become cynical and say that there is no purpose to anything in life. Logically, it is easy to postulate that we are nothing more than molecules acting with complete randomness, that there is no reason for anything. Logical sequelae of this are hedonism or despair. Neither are desirable characteristics for any human.
But there is another extreme: Total surrender of ones intellect and ethics. It is tempting, in the healthy renunciation of that cynicism, to go to far and give up ones intellect, ones independent sense of history and ethics. To do so is to be a member of a cult. This is also undesirable for any human.
Judaism is neither of these. Torah provides a way to be sceptical but not cynical. Rambam, in Hilchot Deot, tells us that we need to follow a middle path. That message is as compelling today as when he wrote it over 800 years ago. Rabbi Adlerstein has identified one very important area for us to apply this principle, and we should meditate on it over Shavuot.