In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 17, 2007 / 3 Elul, 5767

Introduction to the Divine

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Introducing G-d is one of the most difficult things to do. It is like presenting a three-dimensional reality on a flat surface. Still G-d is the most captivating figure in human history and His track record is most unusual. His deeds are unprecedented, yet very disturbing. He is to be loved but often irritates. He is above all human limitation but He gets angry and outright emotional. He is beyond criticism but is judged by the strictest criteria of justice. Religious people and thinkers believe that He is the only One who really has it all together and knows what He is doing.

But, others are convinced that He is absent-minded, lets things get out of hand and causes unnecessary pain to some of His creatures. Nobody has ever been the cause of so much controversy, shuddering silence and admiration. And no one is so conspicuous while using an ingenious hideout called the universe. While He is the great mystery in man's life, some human beings have a relationship with Him as if He is their best friend, one with whom they can converse and to whom they can complain. He is the personal psychologist of millions of people but is ultimately blamed for anything that goes wrong. Who is this strange figure called G-d?

The first thing to realize is that the term G-d is used arbitrarily. It often stands for completely opposing entities used by religious and quasi-religious ideologies. All of them agree that "G-d" affirms some Absolute Reality as the Ultimate. But, they fundamentally disagree as to what that reality is all about. For Benedictus Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher and Jewish apostate, and other pantheistic thinkers, He is really an "It," a primal, impersonal force, identical with all nature — some ineffable, immutable, impassive, Divine substance that pervades the universe or is the universe. G-d is only immanent; He is permanently pervading the universe but not transcendent, a Divine spirit which has little practical meaning in man's day-to-day life.

This is not so for Judaism and other monotheistic religions. For the Jewish tradition, G-d is not an idea or just a blind force but the Ribono shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, Who, besides being immanent is also transcendent, surpassing the universe which is His creation. He has the disturbing habit of being everywhere and anywhere, and He is known to interfere with anything and everything. He is a living G-d who is a dynamic power in the life and history of man, moving things around when He sees fit and smiling or getting annoyed with His creatures when they have blundered yet again. But, most importantly, while He does not fit into any category, He has, for the lack of a better word, "personality" and His own consciousness. His essence cannot be expressed, but He can definitely be addressed.

This radical difference in the conception of G-d makes for an equally profound divergence in attitudes about all life and the universe. While in pantheistic and other non-monotheistic philosophies, He has no moral input, nothing could be further from the Jewish concept of G-d. For in Judaism, He is the source "par excellence" of all moral criteria. According to pantheism and the like, the world is eternal, without a beginning. As such, it does not have a purpose since purpose is the conscious motivation of a creator to bring something into existence. It therefore follows that in the pantheistic view man cannot have any purpose either. He, like the universe, just "is" and, so, moral behavior may have some utilitarian purpose but no ultimate one. For pantheism it is not the goal of man to be moral but just a means to his survival. Would moral behavior no longer be needed as a means for man to survive, it could be dispensed with.

On a deeper level, the pantheistic world view sees the universe as an illusion — an unreal, shifting flux of sensory deception. As such, it needs to be escaped. Made from a purely Divine substance, it could not accommodate any physical reality and, therefore, could not have any real meaning. Neither could man. Once his physical existence is branded as an illusion, he can no longer exist as a man of flesh and blood. Nor are his deeds of any real value. Since it is the body, which gives man the opportunity to act, and man's body is seen as part of the deception, it must follow that all man's behavior belongs to the world of illusion as well. It is this view that Judaism protests. G-d is a conscious Being who created the world with a purpose. And this world is real and by no means a mirage. Man's deeds are of great value, far from an illusion; they are the very goal of creation. Judaism objects to the pantheistic view of man since it depersonalizes him, which must finally lead to his demoralization. If man is part of an illusion, so are his feelings. So why be concerned with a fellow man's emotional and physical welfare?

Paradoxically, this pantheism infiltrated western culture via the back door. When we are told by certain modern philosophers that man is only physical and his body a scientific mechanism in which emotions are just a chemical inconvenience, we are confronted with a kind of pantheism turned on its head. While pantheism denies the physical side of existence, this so-called scientific approach rejects the spiritual dimension of man. In both cases, emotions are seen as part of an illusion, and, therefore, they are to be ignored.

Judaism, on the other hand, declares that it is emotions that make man into man and that they are of crucial importance and real. In fact, emotions are central to man's existence, since they are the foundation of moral behavior. While pantheism teaches that moral criteria belong to the veil of illusion, Judaism declares them to be crucial. It is for that reason that Judaism views G-d as an emotional Being. By giving G-d, metaphorically speaking, emotions, these emotions are raised to a supreme state. If G-d has emotions such as love, mercy, jealousy and anger, then they must be real and serious and not to be ignored when found in man. While some philosophers considered such anthropomorphism as scandalous, the Jewish tradition took the risk of granting G-d emotions so as to uphold morality on its highest level and guarantee it would not be tampered with. For the sake of man even G-d is prepared to compromise His wholly Otherness, albeit not to the point that He would be projected as a human being.

It was the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who pointed to the inherent danger in western society in which G-d became a makeshift. While the vast majority of mankind in the Western Hemisphere declares that it believes in G-d, this majority seems to add two more words to its declaration of faith. Instead of saying: "I believe in G-d" it states: "I believe in G-d, so what?" In such a way the most radical encounter which man could ever have with the Master of the Universe has been minimized to a senseless blur of charlatanry. To this Judaism protests. G-d is of no importance unless He is of Supreme importance.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. Comment by clicking here.

© 2007, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo