Interview by a Teenager

I was recently interviewed by a teenager, and she asked such wonderful questions about Judaism—I decided to share my answers with you. Enjoy the conversation!

Did you always believe in God?

I have always believed in God. I grew up in a close-knit family that celebrated believing in God. I was raised in a country that made it easy to believe in God because believing in God, and having faith, is what made Israel possible. How else could we have survived the many wars and sudden attacks? Besides, it is much easier to believe than not to believe. I sleep better!

How do you incorporate Faith and God in your life?

Faith is important in my life because it gives me stability, and it gives me hope. Sometimes people can disappoint you. Faith keeps my eye on the unseen target ahead. I don’t really have a picture in my mind imagining God, as the idea of God is so much bigger than what the human brain can imagine. How I relate to God is a crucial aspect of my everyday life, and the essence of who I am. The understanding that God transcends humanity, and that God is good.  This understanding is central to my belief system. I love to think that the difference between God and good is one letter. The missing letter is O equals zero. God is good. I think experiencing God is having the awareness to look around you, to listen to others, to do good in the world, and to do good in the privacy of your own home. It does not have to be anything grandiose— but any small gestures that makes you imitate God and his goodness is how we human beings experience God on this earth.

Do you imagine God?

Judaism doesn’t encourage images of God. That’s why in synagogues there are no images of God. There are images of what God created, but not the actual depiction of God. When you have a picture of what God is, you in a sense, put a frame around it! And there is no framing to God! That is why across Jewish history many Jews were subjected to suffering and persecution because they didn’t perceive other entities as God.

Do you ever question God?

I think people in different times of their lives question God. I was angry at God, that’s for sure. But did I question God..no…I questioned what I don’t know, if that makes sense. I think challenging God is more what I would do, and it has been a Jewish tradition for thousands of years. If you open the Talmud, which is a very sacred Jewish source in Judaism, you will find rabbis arguing over centuries about God‘s intent in the Torah. The reason he/she did this and the reason he/she did that…very amusing sometimes!

What question would you ask God today?

If I were to ask God one question, I think it will be —why does He allow evil to be in this world to the point that it destroys so much goodness. Of course, this is different question than, “Can people choose to act badly,“ as I strongly believe in free will.  People do choose their own actions and their own path. But evil is taking bad actions and choices to the 10th°! 

Do you pray to God?

I pray to God. Sometimes I use the prayer book, and sometimes I just talk out loud. I think both ways are important. But it is important for Jews to know and understand the written prayers the rabbis wrote as their word choices are so often words I could not say better myself. They speak what I have in my heart in a way that is beautiful. But it is not enough to pray. It is equally important to study what God wants from us. The Torah, the Bible. Look at praying as speaking and reading God’s word as listening. For true communication to happen we need both, right? Imagine you would only have to listen to your parents but never voice your own thoughts? Or, imagine you will only have to talk but never listen. How healthy would your relationship be??

What is God’s most important characteristic in your opinion?

The characteristic of God that is most important and interesting is the fact that while He has no image, it is said that we were created in God’s image, b’tzelem eloyim. Each and every one of us has the ability and capabilities to mimic God‘s ways. We will not look like God, but we can act as God would act. And to me that is the sense of compassion and kindness. In Hebrew we call it Chesed. When I do something that is kind for other people, I feel that I am living up to what God would want me to do, and it makes me feel good on the inside. And I think if everyone would incorporate that into their being and will do for others, our society will be so much better than what it is today.

What do you like to incorporate from your Judaism into your daily life?

Joy, celebration and a sense of a community, Simcha and Kehilah— that is what I think the most important to incorporate from my Jewish faith. We Jews value celebration! Life is truly the sum of all the events that happened to us in our lifetime. And Each and every one of us has their own journey in this world. But imagine if people come together, eat together, be together. In good times and in not so good times. Judaism is very much a religion of the house. We have the Sabbath meal together on a weekly basis. Imagine if everyone, every family, will take one day a week, to really pay attention to their family and celebrate them. Wow – this world would be so much more amazing! Life in Hebrew, Chaim, unlike English is a plural word. We say Hachayim Tovim (not the singular tov).  If we string together all the moments in our lives, we will come to one long path called Life! Let’s make sure we focus on the right things and fill our “tanks” with experiences that will build us up and not take us down!

Can you tell me the most important commandment?

The most important commandment —wow that’s a tough question!! Perhaps I will give you two. Commandment number five (honoring your parents) and Commandment number 10 (do not covet) in the 10 Commandments. Picture this-if you hold onto the tablets (five commandments on each side), these will constitute the base of the 10 Commandments. Does that make sense? Now why these two— because honoring your parents inevitably mean honoring the source, the Creator, God, whatever name you want to call that supreme entity that is above human beings. It is that commandment that requires us to honor those who are ”above us“ and sometimes it is hard, especially when we’re dealing with teenagers. Teenage is a time that I refer to as “the tunnel time.” When you’re inside the tunnel it’s hard to see that there is so much light on the other side. And I always regard parents as the ones with the small flashlights in their hands walking with their teens inside the tunnel. They help their teen see the light at the end of the tunnel (only if the teen allows for that to happen)

The 10th commandment is crucial because it says in its essence, be happy with what you have.  Love who you are, be who are you can be, and be the best of what you can be.

Thank you Dorice!

You are very welcome, dear! Thank you for reaching out and caring about what I have to say!

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