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D'var Torah by Rabbi Joe Mendelsohn

Where’s God in All This?

 

Rabbi David Wolpe, the son of a Rabbi and the author of Why Be Jewish, used to tell the story of a television interview where he talked about his father. “Growing up, my father never talked about God. He talked about Jewish values, special moments in Jewish history, even about being made in the image of God. But he never talked about God.” A few days later, he received a letter from his father, Rabbi Gerald Wolpe.

“Dear David,

“God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God God (etc.)” covering the entire page. At the end, he wrote,

“Love, Dad.”

Years later I was with his father in Washington, D.C. and we laughed when I reminded him of the letter. “Joe,” he said, “It’s true. When we were in seminary, the only time we talked about God was when G &  d.” (Modern rabbis agree that the dash is unnecessary and misleading – another topic for another time.)

So where is God in Judaism? God is axiomatic – you cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, yet God is the foundation for what we believe, how our values are established and what we should do. God gives us everything – raw materials, miracles, life… and free will. In giving us free will, God had to give up some control and so tragedies can occur like the Shoah (also another topic for another time).

And Judaism? The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in God; your actions are what counts. No one can see inside your mind, but we all see what you do.

Including God.

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