Thursday, January 05, 2006

Talking About God

If you look around the Jewish blogs you'll notice something strange. You'll notice that the blogs whose main topic is religion and theology hardly mention the topic of God. They will talk about Torah and they will talk about how to interpret the Bible, but they rarely mention God. This, on face value, is peculiar. How could a religious blog not mention the most important concept in religion?

It's not just the blogs that you notice this, but the religion itself. I remember when I was orthodox, I really didn't think too much about God. Sure, we acknowledged God in theory, but when push comes to shove we loved the Torah more than anything else, and since God supposedly was the author, we loved God by extension. Now that I am no longer focused primarily on Judaism I find myself thinking about the concept of God more frequently.

The very concept of God is very fuzzy for most religious people. God is some great unknown that none can clearly define. It's hard to talk about something if you don't even know what it is. That is one reason why God isn't spoken about directly. In Christianity, Jesus is the place holder for God. That's why Christians talk more about Jesus than God himself. In Judaism, the Torah is the place holder for God.

I my coming posts I would like to talk about God directly with no intermediaries. I would like to do this because it is the most fundamental religious idea. Some believe that it is impossible to do, because God is completely unknowable. But I learned from one of the most wise Jew, Baruch Spinoza, that not only is this possible, but it is the highest good that a human mind can achieve. So, if you don't mind, let's try to discuss this most high spiritual concept together. Hopefully we can gain some real insight if we do it together.

16 Comments:

Blogger The Jewish Freak said...

It has been my experience that many orthodox Jews are actually uncomfortable talking about G-d. - JF

6:47 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

JF,

it's hard to talk about something if you can't clearly define it. It's better just to avoid it

10:29 AM  
Blogger The Jewish Freak said...

BS: I think that the religious practice of some orthodox Jews has nothing to do with G-d at all. - JF

2:48 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

right. But I'm talking about people who take religion seriously, like GH, for example. GH doesn't talk too much about God even though in theory it is the most important part of religious theology.

3:09 PM  
Blogger The Jewish Freak said...

excellent point. Bring it on. - JF

5:32 PM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

U certainly have a point, but it's not at all as simple as you put it. You need to refine it.

You can't really expect the 'commom man' of any religious persuasion to deal with these concepts.

Many 'academic' yeshivah type people do deal with this subject. Think about chassidus, kabbala etc. Have you ever studied something like Tanya? Many rishonim dealt with it on a philisophical level (Rambam, Saddiah Goan, Choivas Halvovios etc)

As a ultra orthodox youngster (and I'm not a Lubavitcher!), I used to think about this subject all the time.

7:17 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

FTL,

I'm aware that people have been discussing these issues through out the history of religion. And I'm aware that some do it today. But as you admit it, very few actually try to do it. So I say it is the exception that proves the rule.

My post mainly came about because I was a little frustrated that few in the jblogosphere seems to talk about much. I wanted to broaden the discussion because I think it is important and difficult topic and I am hoping that other people in the Jsphere will help me understand it better.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

"But I learned from one of the most wise Jew, Baruch Spinoza, that not only is this possible, but it is the highest good that a human mind can achieve."

No need to repeat his mistake.

3:50 PM  
Blogger keZohar Harakia said...

Hi Spinoza

I lost my faith in Torah Min Hashamayim reading A Theologico-Political Treatise. I have however never read Spinoza's main book Ethics.

If you have read it and will be offering us a digest of his understanding on God then I will be looking forwards to your next blog.

I am pleased to see that Mis-nagid is still around.

9:43 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

KeZohar,

The Ethics is tough to read. TPT is much easier to read than Ethics. I have read Ethics, but the truth is it has to be studied, not read. I do wish to take what I understand from the Ethics and try to summarize it on the blog once I feel I have a good handle on it

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Regarding the blogs, I think the reason is obviuos. Most of the bloggers believe in God, but have doubts of him authoring a Torah, therefore most of the efforts lie in reconsiling scientific/archeological issues with the Torahs origins.

Regarding the day to day life of the orthodox, I think its because a relationship with God is in a way, secondary to his will (his Torah). I recall someone telling me of a Midrash that God says something like "Let them forget about me, but at least they should keep my Torah"

10:53 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I agree that G-d is not discussed a lot in jblogs. However, there are many segments of Orthodox society where G-d is discussed quite a bit. In pastoral work, i.e. when bad things happen to religious people they usually try to understand them in relation to G-d. Also, in kiruv, there are many discussions about the nature of G-d.

I agree that there are also large segments of orthodoxy that don't talk about G-d, but I think that is just the extension of the general condition. Most people want to talk about Cholent or football or politics or home remodeling and not deep philosophical/religious dilemmas.

12:36 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

Looking forward to read more.

10:22 PM  
Blogger KiddushClubGuy said...

Hello. I was raised on boruch hashem, b'ezer hashem, k'na-hora, chas va-sholam,levhavdil, chu-lee-la, im yirtza hashem,shelita, not to mention, abi gezunt,tzi gezunt, and now at the age of 60 I have come to realize that it's all a crock: man made bs. it's a culture and totally unrelated to any type of commitment. There's no difference between tztizis and mormon underwear

9:44 AM  
Blogger Godol Hador said...

Hey, I talk about God!

11:34 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

GH,

please tell me how you define God? What is God? Anyone can mention the word God, but if you don't clearly define it then it doesn't have any real meaning in my opinion.

Besides, I would love to read more about true spiritual ideas and less about kiruv clowns.

11:53 PM  

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