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August 12, 2016 3:28 am

Why People Hate God, and Why They’re Wrong

avatar by Lieba Rudolph

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The mass revelation at Mount Horeb in an illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company, 1907, Photo: Wikipedia.

The mass revelation at Mount Horeb in an illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company, 1907, Photo: Wikipedia.

My late father insisted that religion was bad for the world, because it caused so many wars. I tried for years to convince him otherwise (unsuccessfully, of course), but now I see what he meant.

My father was blaming God for creating religion, but why stop there? Can’t we blame God for everything? Okay, “blame” isn’t quite the right word, but we know nothing happens if He doesn’t want it to — and we know that the world could be a lot better. If God had asked me, I would prefer a happier and more peaceful world.

But God didn’t ask me anything. He didn’t tell me anything either. In fact, spiritually speaking, I was thrown into the water without knowing how to swim. I learned about God the hard way and often the wrong way. This, too, was meant to be — just like the wars caused by religion.

In time, I learned that if I wanted meaning and purpose, I should ask not what God can do for me, but, well, you know the rest. And I learned that, as a Jew, I can do a lot for God, which I eventually came to see as a privilege instead of a burden. That’s why I’m less bothered by what other religions do in His name.

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I’m more bothered by what Jews don’t do in His name. I know, I know, this was also meant to be. But I also know that all Jews are responsible for each other, and many of these Jews are my friends and family. They see, and unfortunately sometimes experience, tremendous suffering in this world. They blame God (and me, by association), and all I can do is assure them that the Moshiach is coming and the world will be perfect. But meanwhile, he’s still not here and my credibility is waning.

I wondered how I could show God in a better light to my fellow Jews. Maimonides, in his Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith, sets down the foundation for all of Judaism. These principles make God look better than any of us can imagine, but they’re a package deal — when they all go together, everything comes together. (Oh, and if you identify more with Maimonides as a hospital, think about a Jewish re-boot. The fate of the world could depend on your spiritual awakening.)

Courtesy of Chabad.org, here are Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith (plus my own italicized commentary):

1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists. This is meant to delight me: God is perfect, yet I matter to Him. 

2. The belief in God’s absolute and unparalleled unity. The magnitude of this notion should inspire both awe (it does) and humility (I try).

3. The belief in God’s non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling. This one I’ve always understood: I’m in trouble if I see God. 

4. The belief in God’s eternity. Thank God. Otherwise, how would I know what He changed and when He changed it?

5. The imperative to worship God exclusively and no foreign false gods. This sounds too easy, which might mean I’m doing something wrong, especially if those “foreign, false gods” are non-corporeal, too.

6. The belief that God communicates with man through prophecy. Maybe not every man, but at least with somebody. How else would we know what He wants from us?

7. The belief in the primacy of the prophecy of Moses our teacher. It really happened…

8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah. …God and Jews, together at Mt. Sinai (also not the hospital)…

9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah. …It’s still happening…

10. The belief in God’s omniscience and providence.  I like to focus on the positive: Because He’s involved with everything, if I ask Him for help, He will provide it.  

11. The belief in divine reward and retribution.  He knows I’m only human, so I fail sometimes — and He forgives me. But what’s my excuse for not trying to do better for real?

12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era. I could sit and stare at these beautiful words all day long. But now is the time for doing mitzvos to make this era a reality…

13. The belief in the resurrection of the dead….Because God wants people to live in this physical world in its perfected state, including the people who helped Him achieve it!  

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  • Jay Lavine

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    The religious person operates out of a sense of service to God.

    The secular ideologue operates out of a sense of self-service: self-validation and self-aggrandizement.

    Judaism stresses doing as well as believing, but the belief is what points the doing in the right direction.

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