God

Vayetze: God is in this Place

Jerusalem 2015

Jerusalem 2015

At the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Vayetze, Jacob camps for the night and he rests his head on a stone. He dreams of a ladder planted in the earth stretching up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending constantly. I see the angels as a metaphor for how we pray. Our prayers start here on earth and then flow upward to God, and God's attention and love and blessing flow back to us. 

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In this dream, God is standing next to Jacob. God tells Jacob Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go...I will not leave you …

When Jacob awakes from his dream he cries out "Surely, God is in this place, and I -- I did not know it!"

We are often reminded of the awesomeness of God in the spectacular moments in our lives and those are moments when we may find ourselves especially open to a connection with God

But it's also possible to experience God's presence in the mundane everyday moments our lives. And we can exclaim  God is in this place,

Wherever we go in life God is with us but sometimes life gets in the way and we do not realize that God is very much a part of our lives. This torah portion says that God is with us all the time and all we have to do is be in the moment and be aware and when we do that, we open our hearts and our minds to the presents of God

 

Finding God

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Every year after Sukkot and Simchat Torah I get so excited about starting the Torah over with this week’s Torah portion Breishit.  The Torah begins with,“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

There is something about the story of creation, about moving back to the beginning of it all that I find exciting.

As a student, I have been challenged by my own concepts of God. What does it mean for me as someone who believes totally in science and not a being up there in the heavens creating everything down here on earth? As a rabbinical student, I have wanted to understand not only what God means in our modern Jewish world, but what God means to me. 

As my graduation date gets closer and I move from student to rabbi. I see God in much the same way as Mordecai Kaplan (the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) did when he wrote, "Those who possess enthusiasm for living and strive for a better world are believers in God." And to quote a modern rabbi Toba Spitzer she says “God offers us an ideal toward which we strive and God is the Power that urges us to respond to suffering, to seek our own fulfillment and to help others toward their fulfillment.”

I am becoming a rabbi to do my part to make the world a better place. The God I believe in encourages us to do Good in the world, “God is the power that makes for salvation”

This brings me back to this coming Shabbat’s Torah portion of Breishit. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Every year we get the opportunity to start again. From the beginning and continue God’s work of creation. And to be in partnership with God, to create a better world. 

I'll close with one more quote from Kaplan:

"When we break through our narrow and prejudiced conception of religion and begin to realize that it is inevitable for the conception of God to reflect one's mental and ethical development, we will learn to identify as divine that Power in the world to make it what it should be. The name of God will stand for truth about reality, not in terms of a division between natural and supernatural but in terms of normal human experience"

Shabbat Shalom

Sandra