A Self Divided

It’s hard, but I’ll admit it.  I’m split in two.  On one hand, I’m a pretty scientific thinker.  I love reading about new scientific advances, am a big fan of using the scientific method, and don’t want Intelligent Design taught in science class.  On the other hand, I’m pretty religious.  I keep Kosher (to some degree), I observe Shabbat (mostly), and I go to Temple (during holidays).  I value both aspects of me, but they can often go to war with each other.

For example, I wait 6 hours from eating meat until I’ll eat dairy.  That means if I eat a hamburger at 7pm, I can’t eat a piece of cake made with butter until 1am.  This wait has resulted in me becoming a near-vegetarian.  When offered the choice between a piece of meat and the possibility of dessert, I go for dessert nearly every time.  Not that I regret this, mind you.  I’m not the biggest meat-lover around.  I’m happy using tofu/soy substitutes instead of meat.   However, it can complicate things sometimes.

Some people think I should tone down this wait time.  Her uncle, who is also religious, only waits 3 hours.  My parents (who aren’t religious, but who attend an Orthodox temple) know many Orthodox people who agree with the 3 hour rule.  So why do I wait 6 hours now?  Mostly because I was brought up that way.  In Hebrew School while growing up, I was told that one shouldn’t mix milk and meat.  In order to prevent meat and milk from being eaten during the same meal, a wait time of 6 hours was initiated.

Apparently, however, there are many different philosophies of how long you need to wait.  In Russia, Jewish communities set the wait time as 6 hours.  In Europe (Germany), the local Jewish communities set the wait time at 3 hours.  It all depended on how their meals were structured during the day.  The Germanic Jews were more likely to eat a meal between Lunch and Dinner and so could wait 3 hours before the next meal hit.  The Russians waited from Lunch until Dinner.

So where does that leave me?  Undecided (much to some people’s annoyance) for many months.  I’ve looked up the reasons behind the wait and found that I agree with some and don’t agree with others.  Even the ones I agree with, however, might be satisfied by a 3 hour wait.

So why not simply change?  If I’m going to be fully honest, it is for two main reasons:  1) I’ve been doing this for almost two decades now so a shift this major is quite a big deal.  2) I’m afraid of the Slippery Slope – that is, I’m afraid that this "minor" change will lead to more changes to (or pressures to change) my religious beliefs that I’m not prepared to make.

My scientific side has analyzed all of the arguments and has come to the conclusion that a 3 hour wait should be fine.  My religious side reads that the actual rule is "greater than 5 hours" and is only willing to yield to a 5 hour 1 minute wait.

So here I am stuck going over the same issue in my mind over and over.  The same arguments for and against.  I’m in a Red Queen’s Race and I can’t figure a way out.

Has anyone else ever experienced a split like this?  (Doesn’t have to be religious/science based.)  How do you come to a decision in a situation like this?

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