11 Elohim: Not God the Creator but God the Creating

“In the beginning Elohim (God) created sky and earth,” (Genesis 1:1). The beginning as Torah understands it was less than 6000 years ago (I am writing this book in the Jewish calendar year 5774). The beginning as I understand it was 13.8 billion years ago. The creation of the earth was a little over 4.5 billion years ago. So Torah is a bit off here. But it doesn’t matter. Why? Because Torah isn’t a science book, Torah is a storybook. The value of our story isn’t in its science (or history for tha … [Read more...]

10 God is Ultimate Reality

My understanding of God mirrors that of the first century rabbi Saul of Tarsus: God is that “in which we live, and move, and have our being,” (Acts 18:28). It may be odd to quote Rabbi Saul, better known as St. Paul, in a book on Judaism, but on this point he is spot on. I am a panentheist (pan/all en/is in theos/God). I believe that God, if the word is to have value for me at all, is Ultimate Reality, the source and substance of all that was, is, or can be.  I won’t pretend that the au … [Read more...]

9 God is Dead. Long live God!

We Jews have many Gods. This is because we have many readings of our story. There are Jews who’s God is obsessed with Land, and who are themselves similarly obsessed. There are Jews who’s God is obsessed with women’s modesty, and who are themselves similarly obsessed. There are Jews who’s God is all about mitzvot/commandments, and so they, too, are all about keeping the mitzvot and commandments. There are many Gods worshipped by Jews. But for most Jews, all these Gods are dead, having been gassed … [Read more...]

8 But Does God Matter?

Remember, the only God we know is the God of story, whether it be our story or some other story. In all cases the God of story supports and sanctions the story in which that God appears. And because the things these Gods support and sanction become the determining factors in the way billions of human beings live their lives, Gods matter. But in the case of Torah, God isn’t a finished character. As we grow, God grows. That is to say as we understand more about the nature of reality our reading of … [Read more...]

7 Story Matters

STORY MATTERSIf we can say nothing about God that is not a reflection of our own story—personal, tribal, etc.—why speak about God at all? I suspect the answer is this: speaking of God for many of us is the way we speak of meaning making. I know that is true of me. My theological narrative is constructed out of the stories, both religious and scientific, that give my life meaning.Story is the way we humans make sense out of the world, and the sense we make shapes our thoughts, feelings, an … [Read more...]

6 The God that can be Storied is not the Real God

When talking about God, something I shouldn’t do and yet cannot help doing, we have to make a distinction between God as an ontological reality—God as God actually is if there is such a thing as God at all—and God as a narrative construct: the God of our story. Let me make this clear: Torah’s God is a character in a story whose purpose is to sanction the worldview of the Jews who tell that story. This doesn’t mean there is no God, only that we should not mistake talk about God with God.All Go … [Read more...]

5 Our Endangered Species

Today we Jews are dying, and have been for a long time. Our enemies kill us, often millions of us, but never all of us. Only we can do that, and we are. We are killing ourselves by failing to tell our children our story, and failing to teach our children how to misread our story in order to retell it fresh for themselves and their children. We are no longer raising generations of storytellers. We have become simulacra, replicas of a past that is itself a fiction.We have borrowed the language … [Read more...]

4 Two Jews, Three Opinions

We Jews love to argue. We argue with ourselves, with one another, and even with God. We value argument over faith, and doubt over belief. Ours is a tribe of inquiry. When we argue over our story we never ask, "What does it mean?" Instead we ask, "What could it mean?" And as soon as one of us tells us what it could mean, another of us asks, "What else could it mean?" For us misreading Torah in order to yield ever–more meanings is the deepest spiritual practice, one that ignites the imagination a … [Read more...]

3 Nurturing Our Story

NURTURING OUR STORYNurturing our story is not the same as reading it annually, which we also do. Nurturing our story is reinterpreting it daily. But we go beyond reinterpreting and embrace misreading as a way of reimagining the story herself. My nurturing of our story led me to become a rabbi so that I could learn the tools for misreading our story (more on this later) and in so doing imagine new ways to live the story as well.All rabbis do this to one degree or another, though most of … [Read more...]