Monday, August 29, 2016

Walk This Way

If God has no corporeal form, which is a basic Jewish belief, then why are there so many physical references to God in the Torah? There are references to God hiding His face (Deuteronomy 31:17), to His feet (Exodus 31:17) and even to His enjoying the aroma of certain offerings (Genesis 8:21).   

The simplest explanation for these anthropomorphic terms is that the Torah is written in a language that humanity can understand and relate to. One can, however, see a more meaningful explanation by noting that the Jewish people are commanded “After the way of God shall you walk” (Deuteronomy 13:5).

Rabbi Chama ben Rabbi Chanina wondered what is actually meant by this verse.  “Is it, then, possible for a human being to walk after the Divine Presence... But rather, [the meaning is] to walk after the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He. Just as He clothes the naked...so should you also clothe the naked. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick...so should you also visit the sick. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners...so should you also comfort mourners. Just as the Holy one, blessed be He, buried the dead...so should you also bury the dead” (Talmud Sotah 14a).

The narrative of creation describes God as creating Adam in God’s image. One way this can be understood is that each person has the ability to be Godlike by emulating God. The world is full of opportunities to walk in God’s way, we just have to see them.

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