Understanding God

Thanks to the internet we were able to watch Erev Yom Kippur at New Yorks’ Central Synagogue.
The sermon by Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl  is the best I’ve every heard on the subject of God.

Inviting God Back to the Garden Yom Kippur 5776 (September 23, 2015)
Sermon by Rabbi
Angela W. Buchdahl

“I realize that I reference and pray to God before this community all the time, but you may have no idea what I mean by God. My understanding of God’s existence is rather uncomplicated; I know God exists in the same way that I know Love exists. But understanding God’s role in human affairs, reconciling a Good and Just God with all the evil in the world, and figuring out what God wants from us, that is a lot more complicated. … Judaism has no specific dogma when it comes to God. It doesn’t really tell us what God is or what God looks like. And without an easy image to see in our minds, most of us don’t know how to recognize God in our lives. It’s not a natural part of our vocabulary. …

But our inability to fully explain or understand God has never stopped our ancient ancestors from trying. God was a healer. A parent. A rock. The Sabbath bride. Our Creator. God was loving, caring, and protective; and God was jealous, angry, and vengeful.  God comforted us when we were sick, and God gave his people the plague. Our liturgy for these High Holy Days refers to God as our Judge; but also as Avinu Malkeinu—our Father, our King.

But the problem with all of these words is that they reduce God, the Infinite, to something much smaller. We know what a judge or a king or a bride looks like. And how can we believe in a God that wears a gown, or a robe, or a crown?

The problem with all of this imagery is that it attempts to transform the experience of God, a divine presence, into a divine being. And that does God a great disservice.”

You can view the video, read the text, or listen to the audio here

(Rabbi Buchdahl’s sermon included material not in the text so I recommend viewing the video.)
It’s also on YouTube: