Religion & Beliefs
Why I Believe in G-d (And You Should Too)
52% of Jews do not believe in G_d. Apparently, being G_d’s chosen people does not preclude actual belief in said deity. I have to admit that this is a problem for me. And it really shouldn’t be. A quick mental … Read More
52% of Jews do not believe in G_d. Apparently, being G_d’s chosen people does not preclude actual belief in said deity.
I have to admit that this is a problem for me. And it really shouldn’t be. A quick mental check list of my Jewish friends reveals that most of the Jews I know are secular, atheist, "culturally Jewish," or whatever label you want.
I just feel sad that these Jews don’t believe in something other than bagels and Seinfeld. Sure, you can connect to Judaism through your family, tradition, a sense of longing, history, culture. I’m not going to say that these things are wrong. They’re amazing if they are right for you! I respect everyone’s faith or lack of, as long as its genuine.
What I want to do is throw out a crazy idea: that believing in G_d is not as difficult nor archaic as anyone makes it out to be, and that believing in G_d can give you more than you can possibly imagine.
First, I have to tell a story. One that I don’t tell a lot of people.
When I was 24, I had a profound religious experience. I was lying in bed, slowly waking up, and I felt this warm glow cover me. I had never had an experience like this before. I felt like I had a gallon of hot tea flowing through my whole body and this radiant spirit came over me. And I knew, despite disbelief in a Creator G_d, an absence of religious upbringing in my childhood and a general belief that this-is-all-there-is-to-life-get-used-to-it, that I had an encounter with the Holy.
I knew this G_d to be the Jewish G_d because the connection was singular. No Jesus, no Mohammed, no anything. It was one spirit, indivisible, that came over me and wrapped me in gentleness and love. I’m not going to explain it any further than that, because most people don’t believe me and want more explanations. Sorry, I’m not here to give evidence to that.
As I began to learn my Jewish Path, I came across the Modeh Ani. Our Sages believe that our spirit leaves us in sleep and returns as we awaken. I understood that idea: it was dramatically similar to what happened to me.
So I lucked out. I touched this divine feeling without any work of my own. And I understand why it must be hard for the rational among us to believe in any of this. Frankly, I had my doubts to begin with.
But what I learned, from choosing G_d, is that the world is better when G_d is there. Simple things become easier to deal with, when you know that your life is worth more than what you make of it. Sure, there is still pain and stress, but my burden is not just mine, my families, or my friends to bear. Hashem is there to take it all on with me.
I believe that the world was created with love: that Creation is an expression of a deep, unwavering connection between all of Hashem’s creatures and the Divine spark that is within everything. When you believe that the world is worth more than what you can pillage and rape from it, you develop a respect for Life that is profound.
The connection of Humanity to G_d is a relationship: part parent/child, part marriage, part adversary, part friend. And like all relationships, our relationship to G_d changes overtime. The spirituality I have as a senior citizen is going to be radically different that the one I have as a 20-something rock and roll douche bag. Through the revelations of our tradition, we find that our notion of G_d is free to change. We don’t have to throw out the baby with the bath water.
The best part about loving G_d is that you realize how pathetic all the reasons to hate G_d are! Science and religion got you down? Believe in G_d, and you will suddenly find that you want to learn more about science, because you can connect to G_d through the tools used to make the world. Legalism and guilt mean nothing when you know that the sum of the entire universe times infinity is looking down on you, not scolding you for breaking the rules, but smiling because you are sincerely trying to do good for yourself, for others, and for Hashem. Tikkun olam is a great feeling: but it’s even better when it goes from feeding the homeless, to feeding the Master of the Universe.
This may seem like pathetic dribble from a mindless Believer, pathetic and childish. That’s OK. But here’s a suggestion: if you don’t believe in G_d, then fake it! Pretend like all the things I say are true. Live it. Take it in. Study it. You might find you like it. And when you do, maybe you’ll feel a connection to G_d in your own way. And if you don’t, what have you lost?
Wherever you are, wherever you want to go, G_d is there. Just reach out.