A Relationship with God
A discussion of Jewish beliefs about the relationship between God and humaninty, from the book What Do Our Neighbors Believe: Questsions and Answers on. I would put it this way: God is the consciousness, the level of Jews can also experience covenant in our relationship with the Jewish people. In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and . There is, in truth, no relation in any respect between God and any of God's creatures. — Maimonides, Moreh.
In all of these dimensions, covenant undergirds the human being with a sense of belonging, or interdependence. Covenant reminds us that we are not alone, that we are part of relationships that fundamentally matter, and therefore that it matters what we do.
One ritual that expresses covenant most poignantly is a baby naming, which literally is called a brit or a bris, that is — a covenant ceremony. A baby is welcomed into life by bringing them into the covenant. They may have already been given an English-language name, but this name is their covenantal name, the name by which they will be called to the Torah at their bat or bar mitzvah, a name that can call them to their covenantal awareness, a name, that when spoken, reminds them that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Torah The second fundamental component of Judaism is Torah. What determines its shape? What is its content? When 2 people get married, as part of their covenanting ceremony, they make vows to each other. In one sense, this is Torah: When people talk about Torah, they may think they are referring to something that was written thousands of years ago, which Jews reverently read at sacred gatherings. The words that are written are just the prompt, the opening in the conversation.
How do I know this? Inherent in the very word Torah are the words that describe two kinds of covenantal relationships. The Hebrew word Torah adderall shares the same root as the word for parents — horim — and the word for teacher — moreh or morah.
In other words Torah is an expression of what parents and teachers do, of who they are when they are parenting, when they are teaching. For it is through our parents and our teachers that each of us first learns and experiences what it is to be a person. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. And every one of us is a bow sending forth arrows into the future — in the form of our children, our students, the people with whom we are in relationship, and even our future selves.
Human beings are human by virtue of our being in covenantal relationships with other human beings, with the earth, and with God. And Torah is our evolving understanding of what that practically means. Mitzvah The third fundamental component is mitzvah.
If Torah is our understanding of being in covenant, mitzvah is our acting out of being in covenant. The classic translation of mitzvah is commandment. At the heart of any relationship that matters, there is a commanding voice.
For a parent, thou shalt get out of bed and answer thy child when she is crying in the middle of the night. A mitzvah is a specific act at a specific moment.
It is a decision to act or not to act, to do or not to do. It is an act that in its doing, reinforces the covenantal relationship. More than a command-ment, then, a mitzvah is a covenant — enhancer. If you are in covenant with humanity, what is it that you must now do, that you cannot conceive of not doing?
That is your mitzvah. If you are in covenant with the Earth, what is it that you must now do, that you cannot conceive of not doing? If you are in covenant with God, what is it that you must now do, that you cannot conceive of not doing? Anything and everything we do can be experienced through the lens of mitzvah. What we speak about. How we spend our money. How we spend our time. How we interact with each other. Teshuvah The fourth fundamental component of Judaism is teshuvah.
Teshuvah literally means response, and it also means to turn. Teshvuah is our response to the question: What happens when we get off track?
What happens when we are out of integrity? What happens when we have undermined some aspect of our covenantal relationships? What happens when we find ourselves isolated and separate, hurt or having caused hurt, our perspective ego-centric, our spirits contracted, our bodies clenched.
On the Relationship Between the Jewish People and God
How do we self-correct? Rosh HaShanah is where we look and see where we are.
It is the Day of Judgment, the day of discernment, the day of seeing the truth, and the day we begin to respond to the truth that we have seen. We turn, we return to who we really are — created in the image of God to be in and act out of covenantal relationship with human beings, with the Earth and with the One who is eternally in covenantal relationship with us.
The Ways of God - Judaism and Christianity
We are forgiven for the teshuvah that we have not yet been able to complete on our own. But sometimes, one feels something else too. At first, the feeling might be unidentifiable, hidden underneath layers of sadness and pain.
But then, slowly it might emerge. We trusted in Him. We prayed with all our might. We placed our every hope in His Hands. And He let this happen And these questions -- spoken or unspoken -- then provoke a completely new swirl of emotions. How can I be angry with God? We're not supposed to be angry with God. We're supposed to feel that He's compassionate, loving. One cannot easily "make up" with someone one feels has betrayed him; how, then, can we expect to love God if one feels betrayed by Him?
Perhaps the answer differs from person to person. But I think a change in perspective can begin to point in a useful direction: We can ask a fundamental question: When one prays to God for something -- be it for health, happiness, or even for a new car -- what is it that one hopes to achieve?
What does one hope the prayer will accomplish? On one level, the answer is obvious. One hopes that God will bequeath to him that which he prays for. If one prays for his daughter's recovery from a terrible illness, for example, one obviously hopes that this will somehow help her recover. But there is, I think, a deeper aspect to the meaning and purpose of such a prayer. Allow me to relate a story a friend of mine tells about one of his early childhood experiences. This is how he relates the event: No one was there.
I tentatively called out for my mother, but there was no reply.
Slowly, a realization dawned on my little mind: My parents have abandoned me She had slipped out for a few minutes to pick up some milk. It was, however, an experience I shall never forget.
Imagine for a moment that you are four years old. Your parents are everything to you. Consider the terror you would feel thinking they have abandoned you, leaving you to somehow manage life on your own. Of course, as an adult, you know that this would never happen.
However, as a child, you would not have known this. The threat would have seemed real. How does that terror feel? Imagine you are six years old.
Climbing on a chair, you have found your mother's cookie jar on the kitchen counter. It's filled with chocolate-chip cookies.
You approach your mother, cookie jar in hand, and ask her for one. Now consider the following two scenarios: It's not time for a cookie now; it's too close to dinnertime. As much as I know you'd like to have it, I can't give it to you right now. She stares at you a little coldly for a minute. Then she turns and walks away. If you want it, take it. In the first, you are denied the cookie; but you get the loving attention of your mother.
In the second, you get your cookie -- but a gnawing pit swells in your stomach. In some small way, your mother has abandoned you Imagine that you are older now. You and your spouse live in a small apartment. Unfortunately, your financial situation is bleak; you cannot afford to buy yourselves even a small, used car.
Even routine grocery shopping has become an ordeal. Your husband's employer, however, has hinted he may be in line for a raise -- enough, perhaps, to allow you to afford a vehicle. So you pray to God with added devotion, and ask for this raise to come through. We, of course, have no way to directly perceive how God accepts our prayers -- but for the sake of argument, let us imagine that you could somehow "hear" His response.
Imagine, again, two scenarios: I know the stress you feel due to your financial situation, and I feel your anguish.