Submitted by Anonymous on August 9, 2006 - 12:18pm
Or, How do You connect to God?
I dig Rabbi Ostrich. And so does Mr Diehl, who has actually met him.
It -- I know: antecedent unclear ... but "it" doesn't have to do with Rabbi Ostrich but with rhetoric -- doesn't have to be about Plato.
Too often, yes, elijah, it is.
And anyone who knows me knows I ain't all sweetness and light. But right now this seems right: putting Rabbi Ostrich's most recent Centre Daily Times
column on The Blogora. Glad I could still pull it up. Sorry for the other things I've been forwarded that I haven't been able to post yet. We're in Ithaca; Spenser's having surgery: footie biopsy. And so on.
Let your laughter fill the room. Let your laughter fill the rheum.
Religions offer varying paths to God
The Biblical story of Balaam (Numbers 22-24) teaches us a good lesson on interfaith relations.
Though almost all of the primary figures in the Torah are Hebrews, the prophet Balaam is not. He is a prophet just like Moses or Isaiah, except that he is a non-Jewish prophet. While God sent Jewish prophets to the Jews, God sent non-Jewish prophets to the gentiles -- the Lord has wisdom and insights for everyone.
Sometimes, it is hard to understand how a different religion could also be a true path to God, and yet, variety is present in every aspect of God's creation. There are all kinds of birds, flowers and rocks. There are all kinds of humans and human cultures, with languages and symbols that communicate in very different ways. Variety seems to be part of the design specifications of creation.
Though different religions differ on details of theology or observance, there are, nonetheless, remarkable similarities among the world's religions. We agree on the need for honesty, righteousness, piety and charity. We agree on the need to set aside certain times or places for religious rites. We agree that God is both beyond our understanding and nonetheless approachable. We also agree that God is invested in our success as spiritual beings.
Could it not be that, with all the variety manifest in creation, God created many different kinds of human souls, each better suited for one of the many religious paths available? Could this not be the reason that one religion fits one person perfectly, while another religion fits another person perfectly? Could this not also be the reason that some individuals leave one religion and go searching for one that fits better? The God with whom we want to connect is one, but could there not be many spiritual pathways, each one suited for a particular kind of human soul?
These ideas are discussed in many Jewish sources, but the most famous are the following:
* Micah 6:8: "It has been told thee, O Human, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
* Isaiah 56:7: "For My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all peoples."
* Talmud Sanhedrin 13:2: Rabbi Joshua taught, "The righteous of all nations have a place in the World to Come."
I know that my soul connects to God through the Jewish pathway, but I know other people whose souls connect to God through different pathways. The question is not, "Which religion is right?" but rather: "Which religion is right for me?" God is waiting, and God is hoping for righteousness and spiritual improvement.
Let us celebrate the fact that God is available to every human, and let us celebrate that, within God's infinite creation, there are many paths which can bring us into a relationship with our creator.
Rabbi David E. Ostrich is the leader of Congregation Brit Shalom, 620 E. College Ave., State College.
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