What I Do and Who I Am


Dear Rabbi,

Am I a bad Jew if I eat bacon, don’t go to temple very often, actually only on the major holidays? I do celebrate Passover. Religion just isn’t a very big part of my American Jewish life. Let me know, thanks!!



  1. I don’t know. I recently went to a Rabbi’s lecture on parenting. He shared an insight that relates to your question:

    He spoke about teenagers. Teenage starts at 13 and ends at 20. The significance of these ages is that 13 is when a boy (or a girl at 12) becomes liable in the “Earthly court” for transgressing commandments, and 20 is when he becomes liable in the Heavenly court. Why is the Heavenly court more lenient (i.e., judges at a later age)? Because the Heavenly court judges a person as a whole, and until 20 the person has not yet finished developing his personality. Here on earth, on the other hand, we can’t judge people, we can only judge actions. As a teenager grows, we can judge his actions, but not the person.

    So, the question of whether you are “good” or “bad” is for God to decide. Not any human. We can only speak about what you do, not who you are.

    I heard the following story from Rabbi Nachman Bulman. In Poland, in the early 20th century, only a few Jewish students were allowed to attend Polish medical schools. There was a catch: They had to supply their own Jewish cadavers to study on. After all, it would not befit a Polish cadaver to help a Jewish student. So, the students approached the foremost Halachic authority of the time, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky. They proposed, that in order to keep the Jewish presence in the medical schools, they be allowed to use bodies of deceased Jews of ill-repute, who had been lured away from Judaism into Poland’s criminal street element. The Rabbi, after recovering from the shock of the suggestion, responded, “For me to allow that, I would have to know what God thinks about those people. And, that, I can never know.”

    If you wish, please feel free to judge yourself and decide if you feel it is important to upgrade your religious commitment in your way of life.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team