“A ritual is a physical expression of a value,” says Dennis Prager in his 2004 lecture on Deut. 26. “It took me about 50 years to figure that out. I wish you knew how much struggle is behind a simple line.
“We have that in secular life. When I shake your hand, it says I come in peace to you. If someone were to refuse to shake your hand, you would read a great deal to that.”
I’ve had a lot of people refuse to shake my hand, always people who’ve been offended by something I’ve written. I take it as an extreme form of hostility. When I can shake hands with someone, I feel like we have a chance to talk things through.
Dennis: “There are two views of ritual in Christianity and in Judaism. Two extremes. One extreme is within Judaism — that ritual does not have meaning. God instructed it. You do it. You don’t ask questions. In my yeshiva training, we were taught to not ask reasons for rituals.
“On the other hand, there are those Christians who say ritual is not necessary.
“Both make a terrible mistake.”
“A civilization will not survive without ritual, but ritual without meaning is pointless.”