Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., wrote on a popular Conservative website: "Dr. Laura's appraisal of Judaism and she can't stand in the cold any longer." It's an old canard.Laura says that she gets from Judaism present-tense what she's always got from Judaism. She tried to deny it for years of study and ritual and hoop jumping. Decades ago a Catholic friend remarked to me: "Well, of course, the Jewish God is a God of law.
For example, before reciting the Shemona Esrai, the long prayer a Jew is obligated to recite two or three times a day, Maimonides writes that one is obligated to stop and reflect on the greatness of the God one is about to address.
Given that it takes the average Jew anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to recite the Shemona Esrai, isn't it a shame not to take the extra two minutes of reflection before beginning in order to reframe the whole prayer as an exercise of love and closeness? Three months ago, a woman started giving a course in our neighborhood on the mitzvah of taking hallah.
This problem crops up in our family every year on my husband's birthday, when my eagerness to give him what he wants is squelched by his not wanting anything in particular. My inquiry two weeks before his birthday solicited from him the definite response that he wanted an acclaimed four-volume set on the laws of Shabbat.
Joyfully, I walked into our local Jewish bookstore and asked for the set. The bookseller assured me that there wasn't a set to be had in all of Jerusalem, but the publisher was running off a new printing which should, with luck, be out in a month or two. The day before my husband's birthday, I was shopping in the neighborhood of Geula when I passed a bookstore.
We consider it commendable that we take the time to perform the mitzvah at all.