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Dena

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PostSubject: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 11:28 am

This topic was mentioned in another forum but probably needs it's own thread.

Quote :
fearing Gd is a whole different topic and a good one to discuss if you are willing to open a thread on it. I am curious to understand how others see Hashem and why just like what Dena wrote about the soul.

So I think this is at least a two part topic.

1. Fearing God ( The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God...; You shall fear the Lord, your God, worship Him, and cleave to Him and swear by His Name.)

2. Our own personal ideas and understanding of God.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 2:45 pm

Dena, I think the fear of Hashem is the crucial element into Judaism without it you can only see a surface of the Torah, only stories, folktales, or fortune cookie wisdom. I don't even know if I have words or the intellect to describe how vital it is. The fear is not a worldly fear of a tyrant or cruel gd, oh I will smite thee kind of thing...it is utter awe, reverance, respect, justice, merciful,kindness, every breath I have is a gift of love, a treasure ....a heartbeat. Its knowing just how majestic He is and feeling who am I Gd...who am I...to deserve a speck of knowledge of you? That you see me, that you know me ...that you even care? Eternal gratefulness, I owe you my life and everything in it...that I know that your hand Gd is what feeds me, clothes me, and shelters me...that I cannot bare the thought of not being the apple of your eye! How can I seek you oh Gd, how can I love you, be with you and walk with you? Devote my love and be my passion? How can I draw closer, be one with you?
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 2:53 pm

To fear Hashem ...to be called a Gd fearer is regarded higher than a Torah Scholar.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 3:00 pm

I don't know that I would feel comfortable sharing my views. I just started the thread for those who were discussing it and those who would be comfortable sharing. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 3:27 pm

I understand, I just had to respond with my own take on it. There are biblical examples and Mt. Sinai is one for starters.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Wed May 30, 2012 5:36 pm

I just can't use the word "fear" because it can only have negative connotations for me--raised, as I was, in the Bible Belt. "Fear of God" here literally means fear of punishment, damnation, and Hell. It means a vengeful God who is looking for an excuse to throw you into Hell.

I think of God as a parent--someone who knows better than me and tries to help me make good decisions, who wants to see me succeed, and who loves me unconditionally.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:59 pm

(Dropping back in from the moon...)

For me, "fear of God" is the sense of radical amazement that Heschel writes about, a sense you can't put into words but that you know beyond knowing connects you to God in a way that both makes you feel unbearably small, yet incredibly loved.

I also share Heschel's nondualistic concept of God, humanity, and the universe. (Essentially the same concept put forth by most world religious traditions as a "secret" or otherwise esoteric teaching.) That is, all is God. We are small pieces of God in a world formed out of God and there is nowhere and nothing that isn't imbued with God, because God is all there is. On one level, we perceive ourselves as separate beings seeking (and I believe able to have) communication with God, and on another level nothing material--including us--is real, and what we perceive as reality is just a dream of God's. We exist, essentially, only in God's mind.

Nonduality isn't an uncommon concept, but some people (my rabbi included) get caught up in the seeming contradiction in it, and have a hard time conceiving that an impersonal, force-of-nature (all-that-is) God can also be an objectified, personal God, too. The way I look at it, God is infinite and thus beyond the limits of what we are able to conceive with any completeness. Why can't an infinite God have the ability to reflect some of God's God-stuff into temporary, stand-alone beings like humans and then play a game of pretend that those beings and God are separate?

I have no problem with it :-)
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:31 pm

I see the use of "fear" as a Christian term, because one fears G-d, fears judgement and fears hell. When I was taking my class about Judaism the folks who had been Christian came into the class with these terms and really tried to see Judaism through the Christian lenses they still had. It was hard for them to move away from the ideas of the faith they had been raised with.

I see G-d as everywhere and within everything, and everyone. We talked alot about G-d and the beliefs of G-d as a G-d active in the world or one who stands back and lets us make our choices.

I don't see G-d as a vengeful G-d but that people need to give reason to bad stuff and blame G-d. But if I thought for a moment that G-d caused horrible things like the Shoah for instance I would have to walk away from G-d.

Did anyone ever see the movie God on Trial? it was really good.


Mychal wrote:
I just can't use the word "fear" because it can only have negative connotations for me--raised, as I was, in the Bible Belt. "Fear of God" here literally means fear of punishment, damnation, and Hell. It means a vengeful God who is looking for an excuse to throw you into Hell.

I think of God as a parent--someone who knows better than me and tries to help me make good decisions, who wants to see me succeed, and who loves me unconditionally.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:05 pm

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
(Dropping back in from the moon...)

Hello again, I was wondering where you were! Very Happy

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
I also share Heschel's nondualistic concept of God, humanity, and the universe. (Essentially the same concept put forth by most world religious traditions as a "secret" or otherwise esoteric teaching.) That is, all is God. We are small pieces of God in a world formed out of God and there is nowhere and nothing that isn't imbued with God, because God is all there is. On one level, we perceive ourselves as separate beings seeking (and I believe able to have) communication with God, and on another level nothing material--including us--is real, and what we perceive as reality is just a dream of God's. We exist, essentially, only in God's mind.

I too learn toward the non dualist view but probably a little more on the Spinozaian (is that a word?) side. I don't completely understand the concept of the universe existing within God's mind. I just think everything is God and without God nothing would exist. I guess "nothingness" would even exist because maybe that is something.

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
Nonduality isn't an uncommon concept, but some people (my rabbi included) get caught up in the seeming contradiction in it, and have a hard time conceiving that an impersonal, force-of-nature (all-that-is) God can also be an objectified, personal God, too. The way I look at it, God is infinite and thus beyond the limits of what we are able to conceive with any completeness. Why can't an infinite God have the ability to reflect some of God's God-stuff into temporary, stand-alone beings like humans and then play a game of pretend that those beings and God are separate?

I have no problem with it :-)

I have a very difficult time with imagining God as an essence that willfully makes decisions and cares about us. People find that very surprising but it's true.



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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:08 pm

tamar wrote:
I see the use of "fear" as a Christian term, because one fears G-d, fears judgement and fears hell. When I was taking my class about Judaism the folks who had been Christian came into the class with these terms and really tried to see Judaism through the Christian lenses they still had. It was hard for them to move away from the ideas of the faith they had been raised with.

I see G-d as everywhere and within everything, and everyone. We talked alot about G-d and the beliefs of G-d as a G-d active in the world or one who stands back and lets us make our choices.

I don't see G-d as a vengeful G-d but that people need to give reason to bad stuff and blame G-d. But if I thought for a moment that G-d caused horrible things like the Shoah for instance I would have to walk away from G-d.

I don't see it as particularly Christian because the term is used in the English version of the Torah. You can read articles on Jewish websites that also use the phrase. Of course they do not mean "fear" like I would say I am fearful of mountain lions or bears. It's more like awe and respect. It is not a term I would use myself but I get the point.

tamar wrote:
Did anyone ever see the movie God on Trial? it was really good.

Yes and I think it actually quite an affect on me.


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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:11 pm

Dena wrote:
mikedoyleblogger wrote:
(Dropping back in from the moon...)

Hello again, I was wondering where you were! Very Happy

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
I also share Heschel's nondualistic concept of God, humanity, and the universe. (Essentially the same concept put forth by most world religious traditions as a "secret" or otherwise esoteric teaching.) That is, all is God. We are small pieces of God in a world formed out of God and there is nowhere and nothing that isn't imbued with God, because God is all there is. On one level, we perceive ourselves as separate beings seeking (and I believe able to have) communication with God, and on another level nothing material--including us--is real, and what we perceive as reality is just a dream of God's. We exist, essentially, only in God's mind.

I too learn toward the non dualist view but probably a little more on the Spinozaian (is that a word?) side. I don't completely understand the concept of the universe existing within God's mind. I just think everything is God and without God nothing would exist. I guess "nothingness" would even exist because maybe that is something.

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
Nonduality isn't an uncommon concept, but some people (my rabbi included) get caught up in the seeming contradiction in it, and have a hard time conceiving that an impersonal, force-of-nature (all-that-is) God can also be an objectified, personal God, too. The way I look at it, God is infinite and thus beyond the limits of what we are able to conceive with any completeness. Why can't an infinite God have the ability to reflect some of God's God-stuff into temporary, stand-alone beings like humans and then play a game of pretend that those beings and God are separate?

I have no problem with it :-)

I have a very difficult time with imagining God as an essence that willfully makes decisions and cares about us. People find that very surprising but it's true.


Dena, I don't have difficulty seeing what you are saying about the difficulty of imagining a G-d who willfully makes decisions for the good or bad for us.

It makes much more sense to me that G-d set the world in motion and gave us freewill to make choices and sits back and watches.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:14 pm

tamar wrote:

It makes much more sense to me that G-d set the world in motion and gave us freewill to make choices and sits back and watches. [/left]

Except, I'm not even there. I don't think God is watching us. I don't think God is that sort of essence. Humans watch, animals watch, God...just is.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:22 pm

Dena wrote:
tamar wrote:

It makes much more sense to me that G-d set the world in motion and gave us freewill to make choices and sits back and watches. [/left]

Except, I'm not even there. I don't think God is watching us. I don't think God is that sort of essence. Humans watch, animals watch, God...just is.

I may be closer to that but again the anthropomorphism of G-d creeps in as a being with eyes who watches us. I think we humans struggle with the anthropomorphism of G-d.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:31 pm

tamar wrote:


I may be closer to that but again the anthropomorphism of G-d creeps in as a being with eyes who watches us. I think we humans struggle with the anthropomorphism of G-d.

I seem to have the opposite problem. I feel like God is not watching, God does not care, God is existence but God does not actively or consciously make decisions or have the capacity to "care" about the universe.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:34 pm

tamar wrote:
Dena wrote:
tamar wrote:

It makes much more sense to me that G-d set the world in motion and gave us freewill to make choices and sits back and watches. [/left]

Except, I'm not even there. I don't think God is watching us. I don't think God is that sort of essence. Humans watch, animals watch, God...just is.

I may be closer to that but again the anthropomorphism of G-d creeps in as a being with eyes who watches us. I think we humans struggle with the anthropomorphism of G-d.

Yes, I think that a part of a difficulty or/and struggle with [the idea of] G-d, or with how G-d is and where we, as humans are or what/how we are doing in that dynamics stems from our struggle with the anthropomorphism of G-d. In other words, although G-d is not anthropomorphic at all, people often still have some (more or less hidden or disguised) idea of anthropomorphic qualities of G-d. It could be expressed very subtly - like "G-d is watching [me/us/something]", "G-d listens to me/us/someting", "G-d spoke" etc. Speaking of that, how do you struggle with this? For example, I do believe that G-d "watches" somehow and "listens" somehow, and of course, that we can communicate with G-d or that G-d can communicate with us in some way (speaking of speaking, G-d actually spoke to Moses, so we can talk about speech, can we?!), but I think of all that communication more like of a kind of transference of thought/meaning/message than of an actual conversation, which nevertheless doesn't annul the verbal quality of the message - because in a way everything is a text (and in that is is actually a G-d principle, a G-d).

So I'm with the nondualist approach - everything is G-d and G-d is everything, which in a way doesn't annul the way that we conceive our distinction from G-d (similarly to the relation of Word/text/speech and G-d), if you understand what I'm trying to say. I do believe that G-d set things in motion and I do believe that G-d intervenes just being (so it's not quite like making decisions like "now I'm going to do this or that", although it happens because of G-d is). So I'm struggling with this relation of a wholeness and the idea of particular that is [a part of/included in the idea of] wholeness. So yes, we have a free will, but that possibility is actually a part of a bigger picture, in a way that the idea of free will is already conceived by G-d.

As of fear, I don't think of G-d specifically with fear in the first sense of word. It is rather an awe if I have to put it in terms of feeling so small in comparison to G-d (radical amazement is actually an excellent choice of words, thank you, mikedoyleblogger!). In the most cases I think of G-d as of a parent, as Mychal said, and so I feel joy, respect, awe and devotion and a lot more in the same time. It's magnificent.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:28 pm

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
(Dropping back in from the moon...)

For me, "fear of God" is the sense of radical amazement that Heschel writes about, a sense you can't put into words but that you know beyond knowing connects you to God in a way that both makes you feel unbearably small, yet incredibly loved.

I also share Heschel's nondualistic concept of God, humanity, and the universe. (Essentially the same concept put forth by most world religious traditions as a "secret" or otherwise esoteric teaching.) That is, all is God. We are small pieces of God in a world formed out of God and there is nowhere and nothing that isn't imbued with God, because God is all there is. On one level, we perceive ourselves as separate beings seeking (and I believe able to have) communication with God, and on another level nothing material--including us--is real, and what we perceive as reality is just a dream of God's. We exist, essentially, only in God's mind.

Nonduality isn't an uncommon concept, but some people (my rabbi included) get caught up in the seeming contradiction in it, and have a hard time conceiving that an impersonal, force-of-nature (all-that-is) God can also be an objectified, personal God, too. The way I look at it, God is infinite and thus beyond the limits of what we are able to conceive with any completeness. Why can't an infinite God have the ability to reflect some of God's God-stuff into temporary, stand-alone beings like humans and then play a game of pretend that those beings and God are separate?

I have no problem with it :-)

Is this like Pantheism? I believe Gd is incorporeal. There is another side of "fearing" Hashem parallel to being in awe of Him. The Torah is filled with examples like Queen Esther, Mordecai told her if she did not help that Gd will find another way to save the Jewish people and basically it would not be good to be her. It was fear of Hashem that Noah built the ark, Moshe went back to Egypt, Joshua and Caleb, Samson, etc. At Mt. Sinai some people passed out and died with fear and had to be resuscitated after Hashem told them the first two commandments. You cannot have wisdom without the fear of Gd and you cannot have the key to the Torah without it. Its like having the key to the chamber but not to the treasure box.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:07 pm

Bee wrote:


Is this like Pantheism?

I think Michael's view is similar but not entirely identical to Pantheism.

Bee wrote:
You cannot have wisdom without the fear of Gd and you cannot have the key to the Torah without it. Its like having the key to the chamber but not to the treasure box.

I don't know if I can agree. I guess...no, not really.

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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:56 pm

I'm curious now, if one believes God is unknowable and all we can say about him are what he is not, how does that fit in with a caring, watchful God who intervenes for us?
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:14 am

Dena wrote:
I'm curious now, if one believes God is unknowable and all we can say about him are what he is not, how does that fit in with a caring, watchful God who intervenes for us?
I personally do not belive Hashem is unknowable, I just dont think we are capable of knowing all there is to know about Him. If man had no idea we wouldnt have so many names for Him that describe Him on a personal level. He is always watchful and I do not understand what you mean by intervene? I believe we can pray, delay or move Hashem from caring out His justice on us by repentance, and merits.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:37 pm

Bee wrote:
If man had no idea we wouldnt have so many names for Him that describe Him on a personal level.

We can come up with names all on our own regardless.

Bee wrote:
He is always watchful and I do not understand what you mean by intervene? I believe we can pray, delay or move Hashem from caring out His justice on us by repentance, and merits.

By intervene I mean participate in human (or nature's) affairs.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:02 pm

I should be more specicfic, in the Tanakh there are so many ways Gd is referred to by names that reflect Gd's relationship with man on a personal level. The fear and awe of Hashem is also evident by the way the Jewish people gaurd Hashems name. Also if you notice my signature, it is one of countless times the Talmud emphasizes the fear of Hashem...without it you cannot have that a full understanding of the Jewish scriptures.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:24 pm

Bee wrote:
I should be more specicfic, in the Tanakh there are so many ways Gd is referred to by names that reflect Gd's relationship with man on a personal level.

I knew what you meant. But to me the fact there are many names for God does not mean that we really understand. It means we try to understand, we try to relate, we come up with many names and ideas. It does not prove we really and truly know God. How can we tiny little humans understand the Divine of the entire Universe? I say, we can't.



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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:11 pm

Dena wrote:
Bee wrote:
I should be more specicfic, in the Tanakh there are so many ways Gd is referred to by names that reflect Gd's relationship with man on a personal level.

I knew what you meant. But to me the fact there are many names for God does not mean that we really understand. It means we try to understand, we try to relate, we come up with many names and ideas. It does not prove we really and truly know God. How can we tiny little humans understand the Divine of the entire Universe? I say, we can't.




I believe the writings of the Tanakh come from the writers understanding of G-d. I don't believe that G-d is knowable. I think much harm has been done because people thought they knew G-d and what G-d wanted.

I am in awe of the world for me G-d is within everything and everyone and unknowable.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:24 pm

I completely agree that we cannot fully understand or even come close to understanding Hashem...but we still can know Him within our own capabilities as humanly possible.
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PostSubject: Re: Speaking of God    Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:56 am

I, too, think that God is in everything. God is life. The spark of life that exists in everything is a piece of God. For humans, there's not just the spark of life, but also the soul, which is a part of God.

My logic for this is that our souls are incorporeal and infinite. What else is incorporeal and infinite but God? It seems reasonable, to me, that our souls must be little pieces of God, and that's how He can speak to us and we can hear. This doesn't make us God--anymore than our parent's DNA makes us our parents--but it does connect us.

The thing about being God is, it must be kind of lonely. What's the one thing You don't have? Someone like You. I think (and some rabbis think so, too) that God created us and gave us free will so He could have a relationship with us. The angels and everything else in creation are pre-programmed to do what God says. Only humans can go against God, deny His existence, etc. Which means when we love Him, we do so because we want to, not because we have to.
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