In every creative work, there are things that you produce and that you like that you will have eventually to do away with. The short passage below survived many of my drafts of the book, only to be cut in the final revisions. I took it out for several reasons:
First, my editor didn’t like it.
Second, while the sentiments expressed here were true to me, I thought they were a bit harsh in expression. I didn’t necessarily need to be likable–a meaningless and weak idea in nonfiction writing–but I didn’t see any reason to go out of my way to be arrogant when there was no need.
But I still like it, and what better use for this blog than to indulge myself in its publication?
Excised from the introductory chapter, “Hidden Jew”:
Before I can begin, I feelt that I must insist on the personal aspect of the title question. Am I a Jew? Not you. Not your neighbor, not the old fellow snoring at the synagogue, the Lubavitcher on the corner hawking Messianic pamphlets, the Inquisitor at the local playground, the fundraiser who swears I’m not because I just won’t give.
As I have considered these matters, the work of the Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides has provided me with great intellectual comfort. I will therefore refer to a passage from one of his seminal works, The Guide for the Perplexed, to help explain my approach throughout this work:
I do not presume to think that this treatise settles every doubt in the minds of those who understand it….No intelligent man will require and expect that on introducing any subject I shall completely exhaust it; or that on commencing the exposition of a figure I shall fully explain all its parts. Such a course could not be followed by a teacher in a viva voce exposition, much less by an author in writing a book, without becoming a target for every foolish conceited person to discharge the arrows of folly at him.
The question of my Judaism is mine alone, to ask and to answer.