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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conversing with God: Torah and Psalms.

It seems that while the Torah is a conversation initiated by God to man, the Psalms are a conversation initiated by us to God. To that end, I note that the Decalouge starts with "I am the Lord, your God" and ends with "your neighbor."
While the book(s) of Psalms open with "The praises of man" and ends with "Hallelujah! Praise God in His holy place, praise Him in the firmament of His might."
God to man and Man to God.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Judaism & Revelation

Revelation is one of the more difficult concepts to put into words. Possibly because revelation itself occured (and continues to occur) at a pre-conceptual level, in a realm where langauge is simply inadequate. As a conservative jew, I believe that all of Torah is an attempt to express and describe the experience of divine revelation. And one does not describe such an experience with a list of facts, but rather with poetry, metaphor and simile. Often the deepest truth is found in story, not in "fact." To paraphrase Elie Wiesel, Everything that is true did not necessarily happen.

Having siad that, I think Torah is the closest thing we have to a "blueprint" of God's mind. It is, in a very real sense, the method of revelation from God.

God is revealed through Torah. The gift of Torah is an expression of His desire to initiate an intimate relationship between Him and us. Through Torah, God chooses to reveal himself to us-- an integral condition of any intimite relationship. After all, no relationship can be "intimate" without both parties being willing to reveal their true selves to each other.

So Hashem reveals Himself through Torah. But relationship is a two way street. How are we to reveal our true selves to Hashem? It is up to each of us to embrace Torah if we want to experience the revelation of God, to engage in an intimate relationship with the Holy. Study it, discuss it, live it.

And so, in the end, revealation is not simply a unilateral revelation of God's glory. Like so much of judaism, it is a form of covenant, requiring our own reciporcal revelation of our own glory, as creations of God. And as God reveals Himself though Torah, we reveal our true selves through embracing Torah. And so both God and the self are revealed.

Torah was not simply revealed at Sinai. Its revelation is a process that did not end at Sinai, but continues today. Similarly, Israel did not simply reveal themselves to God or the world at Sinai. That is also a process that continues throughout time.

Final thought. In order for something to be revealed, it must first be concealed. So we must always ask:

What God is hiding from us? What we are hiding from God?
By dwelling on these two questions, I believe that divine revelation will occur again and again in our lives, at various levels. Shalom.