I have often observed that Judaism is a high-input, low output religion. There are countless commandments (over 600) and obeying them is a full-time job...yet there is no well-defined promise of punishments or rewards in the after life.
So why do it? Why bother with dietary laws, 3x/day prayer, a zillion Sabbath regs, and much more?
Occasionally my wife or I will take a walk on the wild side and visit chabad.org,, a nexus for Modern Orthodox Jews and a platform on which they can espouse views that are merely nutty to outright crazy (to us, that is, because these people live in a world founded on imaginary characters and stories).
But back to the regs. My wife encountered a chabad justification, which she sent me with her comment preceding:
Yup. In a long drawn out diatribe they admit many many times in the article that JUDAISM DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. But yet they practice it because they think their god told them to do all the stupid shit they do and they think their god won't steer them wrong. Doing the stupid stuff, they say, shows god that they love him and trust him. Quite a sacrifice for a hypothesis that is unproven.
That is essentially what the piece says. I urge you to read it yourself. It is circular, smug, and self-justifying: we do it because we're Jews, and we're SO special. But what of the thousands of other gods and their rituals? All wrong?
I would also point out that ritual takes time away from such worldly and important pursuits as improving oneself, one's community/environment, and one's relationships. Sure, the sages prescribe "Torah AND good works," but the reality is that Torah and incessant ritual -- Judaism is truly a religion for the obsessive-compulsive -- takes time away from good works...and worse, some of the most pious people are the worst pricks. Religious ritual excuses all kinds of sins.
For the folks of chabad, ritual solves that hardest of questions: what am I supposed to be doing with my life? I suppose there's a certain comfort to that, if one doesn't look too closely at the comfort-object.