I Don’t Believe In God

Dear Rabbi,

I don’t believe in God, yet I can’t imagine Judaism without one. I find myself slipping out of Judaism because of this. Any suggestions?

 

It all depends on what you mean by “God.” If you mean the King of the Universe who creates everything, judges everyone, chooses Jews, promises land, makes laws, and writes books, I don’t believe in “God” either. If, on the hand, you mean by “God” Reality Itself: everything that has, is, and will be (which is how I understand YHVH, a form of the Hebrew verb “to be”), then I don’t see the problem.

God for me is that infinite nondual reality of which I am a part. This is God as Spinoza imagined God, and I am comfortable with that. This is not the God of mainstream Jewish liturgy or literature, however, and for this reason I find it difficult to participate fully in traditional Jewish life. I have to continually translate everything into my own image of God. The art of translation has become my Judaism.

Rather than let Judaism sink into irrelevance as science, philosophy, and contemplative spirituality move us beyond the old god to the new, I do what Jewish prophets, rabbis, mystics, and philosophers have done for millennia: I reinvent Judaism in the image of my reinvented God.

If you want to stay Jewish, you may have to do something similar.


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