Is Judaism All or Nothing?

Questions to Ponder:

1) Leo has always been a traditional Jew and kept kosher for as long as he can remember. He was hanging out with friends one night and they decided to go to the "Rib Shack" for dinner. Leo declined, explaining there was nothing he could eat there anyways. His friends pushed back and asked Leo why he kept kosher. He responded, "I don't know, that's just what my family has always done." His friends gave him a hard time... "Leo, you're not that religious anyways, unless you can come up with a better excuse than tradition, there is no reason you should deny yourself these experiences!" Who do you think is right?

2) Sarah and David have been dating for some time, and being growing in their Judaism together. Sarah attended an inspiring lecture about the Jewish concept of Mikvah, the spiritual bath that married women immerse in once a month based upon their menstrual cycle before resuming relations with their husbands. Sarah really appreciated the wisdom and harmony of this practice, but felt uneasy about implementing it in her pre-marital relationship. She comes to you for spiritual guidance, what would you recommend?

3) Sam got back from a month long trip in Israel very fired up about Judaism. He decided to start wearing a kippah and tzitzit at home, at work, and in public. He was meeting up with friends one night, and as soon as they saw him, Sasha yelled "take off those Jew clothes, you can't go in to the party we're headed to dressed like that!" Sam is torn, what do you think he should do?

(מ) לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

(40) In order that your remember and observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God.

שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵן הַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַתּוֹרָה מֵעִם ה' אֲפִלּוּ פָּסוּק אֶחָד אֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה אַחַת אִם אָמַר משֶׁה אֲמָרוֹ מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה. וְכֵן הַכּוֹפֵר בְּפֵרוּשָׁהּ וְהוּא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁהַבּוֹרֵא הֶחֱלִיף מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּמִצְוָה אַחֶרֶת וּכְבָר בָּטְלָה תּוֹרָה זוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא הָיְתָה מֵעִם ה' כְּגוֹן הָהַגְרִים. כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה:

There are three categories of Torah heretics: (1) he who says that the Torah is not God given, even if he says that a single Verse or one word thereof was spoken by Moses on his own authority is, indeed, a denier of the Torah; (2) he who denies its Oral explanation, that is the Oral Torah, or its exponents... (3) he who says that the Creator commuted this Duty for another duty and that the Torah had been nullified long ago though it really was God given;

(ב) כִּ֤י לֶ֣קַח ט֭וֹב נָתַ֣תִּי לָכֶ֑ם תּֽ֝וֹרָתִ֗י אַֽל־תַּעֲזֹֽבוּ׃
(2) For I give you good instruction; Do not forsake my teaching.

Kohelet Rabbah 10:1

A person should always view himself as being half meritorious and half guilty. Similarly, [one should view] the entire world -- half meritorious and half guilty... If he does one mitzvah, he has the potential to favorably tip the scales of himself and the entire world, and he brings for himself and all the world salvation and deliverance!"

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב רוב בגזל ומיעוט בעריות והכל בלשון הרע בלשון הרע סלקא דעתך אלא אבק לשון הרע:
Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The majority of people suc-cumb to sin with regard to robbery, and a minority of people succumb to sin with regard to sexual matters, and everyone succumbs to sin with regard to malicious speech. The Gemara asks: Can it enter your mind that all people sin with regard to malicious speech? The Gemara answers: Rather, Rav was referring to uttering a hint of malicious speech.

... וכל רגע ורגע שהאדם חוסם פיו זוכה בשבילו לאור הגנוז שאין מלאך ובריה יכולים לשער (מדרש).

For every second that man controls his tongue, he merits some of the "hidden light" something which no angel or other creature can imagine.

תנו רבנן ארבעה מתו בעטיו של נחש ואלו הן בנימין בן יעקב ועמרם אבי משה וישי אבי דוד וכלאב בן דוד ...

There were four people who died without sin. And they are: Benjamin, son of Jacob; Amram, father of Moses; Yishai, father of David; and Chileab, son of David.

(יב) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה עַל־עָזְבָם֙ אֶת־תּ֣וֹרָתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לִפְנֵיהֶ֑ם וְלֹא־שָׁמְע֥וּ בְקוֹלִ֖י וְלֹא־הָ֥לְכוּ בָֽהּ׃

(12) The LORD replied: Because they forsook the Teaching I had set before them. They did not obey Me and they did not follow it.

... וְאֹתִי עָזָבוּ וְאֶת תּוֹרָתִי לֹא שָׁמָרוּ, הַלְוַאי אוֹתִי עָזָבוּ וְתוֹרָתִי שָׁמָרוּ, מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁהָיוּ מִתְעַסְּקִין בָּהּ הַמָּאוֹר שֶׁבָּהּ הָיָה מַחֲזִירָן לְמוּטָב. רַב הוּנָא אָמַר לְמֹד תּוֹרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹא לִשְׁמָהּ שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ שֶׁלֹא לִשְׁמָה בָּא לִשְׁמָהּ.

... And Me you abandoned and my Torah you did not keep... Only if you would have abandoned Me and guarded my Torah, from your delving in the Light of Torah, you will be returned to the good. Rabbi Huna said, learn Torah even if its not for the right reasons, because ulterior motives can become altruistic motives.

Talmud Avodah Zarah 17a

Rabbi Elazar ben Durdayya that he was so promiscuous that he did not leave one prostitute in the world with whom he did not engage in sexual intercourse. Once, he heard that there was one prostitute in one of the cities overseas who would take a purse full of dinars as her payment. He took a purse full of dinars and went and crossed seven rivers to reach her. When they were engaged in the matters to which they were accustomed, a euphemism for intercourse, she passed wind and said: Just as this passed wind will not return to its place, so too Elazar ben Durdayya will not be accepted in repentance, even if he were to try to repent. This statement deeply shocked Elazar ben Durdayya, and he went and sat between two mountains and hills and said: Mountains and hills, pray for mercy on my behalf, so that my repentance will be accepted.... Elazar ben Durdayya said: Clearly the matter depends on nothing other than myself. He placed his head between his knees and cried loudly until his soul left his body. A Divine Voice emerged and said: Rabbi Elazar ben Durdayya is destined for life in the World-to-Come. ... When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard this story of Elazar ben Durdayya, he wept and said: There is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come only after many years of toil, and there is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come in one moment.

When Russian soldiers entered the town of Radin, Jewish townsfolk prepared kosher meals for the Jewish soldiers in the Czar’s army. Soon their acts of charity seemed to fly in their face as they saw the soldiers devour the food and then stand in line to receive the non-kosher Russian rations.

When they complained to the Chofetz Chaim and threatened to stop preparing kosher food, he reflected with an insight that must be passed on to generations. “Every mitzvah that a Jew does, every good deed and every bit of kosher that he eats is not a fleeting act. It is an eternity. No matter what precedes or ensues, we must cherish each proper action of a Jew.”