Is Judaism Extremism?

Moshe Ben-Chaim

Response to a person who felt that Judaism preaches extremism, and people should rather, follow the 'golden mean':

Would not a doctor be looked at as extreme if he felt that HIS cure was better than all other doctors?
If he felt that HIS knowledge was greater than the common man's, and wanted to benefit another person by imbuing him with his findings? This may be called extreme by some, but it is definitely praiseworthy. Perhaps the doctor can even prove his theories given the time, then listener might just agree.

Being extreme does not mean it is wrong. It means that compared to others, one's ideas are very deviant.
Einstein's ideas were very deviant, yet he was proven true by nature. He was certainly not following a golden mean. Had he feared making waves, science today would not have benefited by his ingenious breakthroughs.

The golden mean is meant to be applied to one's traits of anger, lust, trust, drives for power, honor and the like. HERE it is beneficial that one tempers his character traits so none take too strong a hold over him, preventing him from acting rationally. Maimonides is actually the philosopher who coined the phrase "golden mean", and he writes this in connection with character traits only.

But when it comes to knowledge and seeking the truth, any philosopher or scientist will tell you that there can be one correct finality to a given question - only one correct answer exists for a specific problem.
Whether the world is flat or round can only have one answer.
Whether people have a soul or don't can only have one answer.
Whether there was only one true religion designed by G-d and witnessed to have been received by millions of people can only have one answer.
History shows it to be Judaism, to the admission of the Christians, historians, and the world at large. No one denies this. The world attests to the fact that there was a revelation on Mt. Sinai, historically. No other belief system can make such a claim that masses of people witnessed the miraculous event which transpired almost 3500 years ago. All other beliefs are just that, beliefs. Judaism is based on historical proof. It is not based on belief. This is where Judaism departs from other religions. This is also why other religions are based on belief, because they have no proof. It is not a prejudicial statement, but one of fact. The other religions will attest that they are based on belief. But should one base their entire life on that which is only believed? One does not work with the BELIEF that they will be paid. They form contracts and gain proof. This solidity of fact which people function in business should carry over to a more important area of life - one's philosophy.

Conviction in Judaism is not extremism. It is sincere adherence to historical fact.
It teaches that G-d desired only one religion, as He created only one type of man.

I feel unfortunate for anyone, Jew or Gentile, who has not come to this realization. I am well aware that our greatest kings were descendants of gentiles, I mean King David, and King Solomon. Our leader Abraham himself was not a Jew. I am not prejudice against how one was born. This is not a reflection on them, as this is not their doing. It is also irrelevant, as one has free will during his whole life to choose what he sees as truth.

I am however against one not using their mind, and not seeking out honestly what the truth is.
Just as there is only one type of human biology, and only one type of cure for a specific disease, be a person Black or White, Asian or Hispanic, there is also only one type of human psyche. All people need love, despise ill feelings, are social, feel more deeply towards family than strangers, and so on. And all people strive for happiness.
There can be then only one best way for all mankind to achieve happiness. G-d indeed designed mankind, and created one best system for all mankind to adhere to reach happiness. This is Judaism. And the Jews are bidden with the task to enlighten others of the correct methodology for understanding human nature and how to live in line with our design as a human being.

While it is true that many people don't have discussions as this, it is nonetheless very important. Most of the world, Jews included, are not seeking what is best for them, except for this physical existence. They are seeking simple pleasures, hoarding of wealth, impressing others, and feeding their egos. Their lives are not much more than fulfilling base emotional drives. No real involvement in study, and philosophical searches occupy the average person. It does not bother me that I deviate from the most people in this respect. I am happy to have found a system which jives perfectly with the human condition. I am satisfied to involve myself in more enduring pursuits, in learning what the correct values are, and in more virtues than one trying to die rich. I see the rest of the world constantly seeking bigger and bigger fortunes. Someone with a million dollars is not satisfied until he has 2 million, and when he gets there, he wants a billion. It doesn't end.

There must be more to life than just satisfying one's desires.
Man is defined by his intellectual side, not his animalistic side. He must satisfy this part of his nature to reach ultimate happiness. This is achieved by involvement in the world of ideas, not of the physical.

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