Does God Really Talk to Us?
In this week's parsha (Torah reading), Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3), we encounter the story of Jacob's dream. Jacob falls asleep and during his slumber G-d speaks to him saying, "I am Hashem, G-d of Abraham your father and G-d of Isaac; the ground upon which you are lying, to you will I give it and to your descendants . . ."
In the times of our forefathers and foremothers, communication with G-d was direct and very much like a normal human-to-human communication. G-d says something to Abraham and Abraham responds. In our Jewish faith, direct conversations with G-d probably ended with the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. when the Holy of Holies (a room that allowed the high priest to communicate with G-d directly on Yom Kippur) was destroyed. However, I believe that G-d is no less present in our life today than G-d was 1300 years ago. The voice of G-d has not faded from the recesses of our minds. I believe that this evolution of G-d's voice is actually a positive evolution that allows Jews to carry G-d's voice with us wherever we go and access it whenever we want. G-d's voice is now manifested in both the mundane and profound, giving the profound meaning and the mundane beauty.
Personally, I hear G-d's voice on a daily basis as a compass that guides me in the positive directions that allow me to exponentially increase my impact on the world around me. The "voice" (metaphorically speaking) is like my conscience, the angel versus the devil on my shoulder. I believe that G-d's voice is the moment when you make a snap decision or just know that what you are doing is right, rather than the self-talk when you have to rationalize and think long and hard. I feel G-d's presence in the serendipitous moments, when things happen at just the right time and/or place.
In Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) there is a lot of talk of having awareness of the things going on around you; things don't "just happen." I think that having the awareness of G-d's guiding voice inside of us can truly enhance our lives; when we recognize G-d's voice in everything we do, we see how special life truly is. I feel this is embodied in a question posed by a rabbi to a study group I attended: "What can you do to destroy a great work of art?" The answer: erase the artist's name from the bottom. Ultimately, to become aware of G-d's voice inside of you is to be aware of G-d's signature on the world, and that can only serve to enhance our lives.
Read more from: Does God Really Talk to Us?
Ezra Shanken is a third-generation Jewish Communal Professional and the Senior Manager of the Young Adult Department and Major Gifts at the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado in addition to being the third E of E3 and a member of both the Mizel Museum Board of Advisors and Ramah of the Rockies Board of Directors.