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Who Knows But God

For God’s Sake!?, Chapter 3
God-and teh world

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Chaim Burg

Chaim Burg

Even Moses was not able to see and know God. For understanding God is beyond the capability of the human mind – irrespective of our intelligence or the depth of our study.

So to come up with a definitive answer of exactly what is it that God wants is impossible.

Is it the traditional 613 biblical commandments (BT Makot 24a) plus rabbinic additions? Or is it the eleven laws that Rabbi Smalai attributes to King David (Psalms 15)? Maybe it is the 7 Noachide laws (laws for all mankind which include 1- blasphemy 2- idolatry 3- sexual immorality 4- murder 5- robbery 6- eating a portion of a living animal 7-administration of justice). Micha (chap 6) further reduced it to three (do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God). Amos (chap 5) and Habakuk (chap 2) the prophets got it down to one. So did Rabbi Akiva (Love your neighbor as yourself) stating that the remainder of the Torah is commentary.

We are only human and with the power and authority that God has given us we try – as best as we can – to reach the correct decisions.

Not all adjudicators agree, many contradict each other. The bottom line remains – only God knows what is correct.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOD REALLY WANTS??

I don’t – and I dare say neither do you. Nor does anyone else.

You might be able to say: you think that God wants this. Or maybe: from what I’ve learnt it seems to me that this is the next logical step. I can even see someone stating that this procedure was passed down from

previous generations and important halachic authorities.

But is that exactly what God wants? Maybe. Or maybe not. I’m not sure, and to tell the truth neither is anyone else a hundred percent sure.

God took Moses to the 49th level of binah (knowledge) – just one short step below the 50th stage which would have revealed His truths to Moses and possibly exactly what God wants.

Even though Moses reached the highest attainable degree of knowledge, he wasn’t so arrogant as to assume that he could answer every question with which he was confronted. There are two occasions in the Torah where Moses asks God for resolution of a point that wasn’t clear to him.

But today there are those that are so sure about obscure points of Jewish law that they offer their solutions as the one and only possibility.

Even a very definitive sentence in the Prophets – ma hashem doresh meimach (what does God want from you– Micha 6:8) has given rise to hundreds of pages of commentary and discussion. Some in total contradiction to others.

Some with similar points of view but reaching their conclusion via totally different routes.

Does God want and demand the maximum? Should our lives be fraught with unlimited fear and trepidation – or should they be enveloped in a warm non-demanding relationship with the Master of the Universe? A relationship of love and understanding – like a father to son.

The truth of the matter is that we just don’t know. Our stance and attitude are most likely based on the background in which we were raised. With whom did you study and from which school of thought did this teacher emerge.

Your family, community and rabbi play a major role in your attitude. But none of these people or points of influence have any first hand information about what God really wants.

STRINGENT OR LENIENT…. GOOD?? BAD??

Halachah is a very complicated matter. One only has to look at the thousands of books that have been written on the subject to realize the immensity of its scope. It has to be, because it covers all aspects of life and has been in force for some three thousand plus years. During that time the Jews have lived under all kinds of conditions and circumstances that varied from one location to another.

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About the Author: Chaim Burg was born in New York and was strongly influence by the teachings of Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Z.D. Kanotopsky. A graduate of Cooper Union, Burg spent most of his active business career as a communications consultant for major U.S. and international corporations. A well regarded author and lecturer, he mainly deals with thought provoking views on the evolution of Halacha. Burg made aliya in 1975.


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