Posts tagged " faith "

How Do I Connect to God?

July 28th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

Hi,

I was raised Christian and midway into my adult life, I questioned many things about my faith and reevaluated where I stand. I went through bouts of atheism and ended up more agnostic in my beliefs. I felt abandoned and always searching for God/Creator and what that really is.

I still enjoy the moral lessons in scripture and especially yours. But I still feel that sense of disconnection from God.

I would like your advice on what I should do to accomplish my quests to find the peace, connection, and love of God, while all the while, always questioning the existence and presence that I cannot see. I hope that you can offer advice.

Marcus

Dear Marcus,

By its very definition, having faith means trusting in something that cannot be proven beyond a doubt. Maimonides, a great sage who lived from 1138-1204 instructs us, not to believe that there is a God, but to “know that there is a God”.  Of course, that quest to know God is an ongoing one. We do not each day need to set out to “know” that we need to breathe oxygen or that our bodies require food. Other things that we “know” do need constant reinforcement such as knowing that we should be faithful (there’s that faith word again) to our spouses or that getting up with alacrity is better than lounging in bed.

You are clearly a thinking person and also one who feels deeply. It sounds like you have gone through a process and it is possible that you may even have confused accepting specific tenets of a specific religious path with being aware of a loving Father in heaven.

You now seek connection with God. Please know that being aware of a connection with God and of His love for you does lead to peace, but most of us feel that more at some times and less at others. The search for that connection does not always make us feel peaceful; it can actually be disturbing just as an emerging newborn is jostled, pushed and prodded by going through the birth canal.

Here are some practical tips we hope may help you.

1)        If you don’t feel the way you wished you felt, start acting the way you’d act if you already felt the way you’d like to feel.  You may need to read that sentence twice, but it boils down to talking and praying to God before you are sure He is there and listening.

2)        Try to designate a time and place for daily prayer when you won’t be disturbed or interrupted by the phone or by people. You certainly can and should talk to God “off the cuff” throughout the day, but a set time and place will serve to “prime the pump” so to speak.

3)        Spend twice as much time during your prayer session, in silent contemplation as you do speaking. So many times, we talk to God telling Him of our needs, desires and questions, but we run around the rest of the day, not allowing ourselves the quiet to listen for His responses to us.

4)        Get to know in person or listen to or read about people of deep and simple faith for an hour or two each week.  Reading about someone who trained for and ran a marathon or listening to them present a motivational speech makes it easier to follow in their footsteps. The same is true for faith. There are so many people and resources out there, some public figures and others less well-known. Find those who resonate with you.

5)        Start reading a book about how the world and the human body work. Understanding how complex and miraculous this universe and our human existence are evokes gratitude to God for each day we survive and each breath we take.

6)        You might want to go through the book of Psalms slowly, taking half a year or even a whole year to work your way through.

We are confident that 90 days or so into this regimen you will feel more secure and settled than you are today. Don’t expect a steady, consistent change. You will face challenges that make you take a step back and that seduce you to give up and quit your quest. Persistence, humility and courage will keep you on the right track.

Let us know how it goes,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Faith and Faithlessness

December 26th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

As a fan of all types of puzzles, I enjoy seeing both jigsaw puzzle pieces and words fall into place. The separate become connected and the random suddenly makes sense. I tend to follow the same steps when reading, looking for patterns that tie disparate topics together.

As such, when I recently read two disturbing articles within a few pages of each other in my morning paper, I viewed them as a pair rather than individually. The first relayed a distressing tale of women who, after testing for genes associated with a highly increased cancer risk, chose to have mastectomies and hysterectomies as a preventative measure. Increased data recently revealed that their risk was much lower than they had been told. It was too late to undo the emotional or physical pain they underwent and those whose decisions included having no more children had no way to reverse events.

The second article spoke of the growing estrangement from organized religion among the young. It featured families for whom Christmas always meant attending church and how they are coping when adult children wish to join their parents for the holidays, but not attend services with them.

What is the connection?

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How can you and Dave Ramsey be friends?

December 27th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 58 comments

I know we Jews are taught tolerance, etc., but I’m curious about something. As you’ve probably heard, your friend Dave Ramsey signs off his radio show with “…there’s ultimately only one way to financial peace, and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.”

If I’m interpreting Dave correctly, he seems to be saying that the right way to live—in fact the only way—is as an Evangelical Christian. I’d be very interested in hearing about how you were able to forge a friendship with him, despite his position.

I know we can like someone without liking everything he does or says, but given your differences in religion and how fundamental faith is to each of you, hearing how you deal with this might help me in my own life.

Thanks very much!

Sincerely,

A. N.

Dear A.N.,

You are asking a very important question whose answer is fundamental to how people of all religions live peacefully together in the United States.  Interestingly enough, it is in today’s non-religious and even aggressively secular environment of the universities and schools of academia that free speech and ideological latitude are sternly repressed.  By contrast, religiously committed Jews and Christians find themselves increasingly allied in facing common concerns.  This peaceful co-existence among people of different beliefs has been fundamental to America’s success and is today increasingly under assault by hard left groups as well as by many Moslems and others under the camouflage of “political correctness” . 

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Can a non-Jew become “Chosen”?

June 30th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

I listen to your podcast very often and I must say, that those helped me in becoming better human being. Hence my relationship with God improved as well (at least I think). But as I read through the Bible and other books, I always find some mention that only Israelites are the God’s nation. Why is that so important and mentioned quite often? Does this mean, that a person born outside Israel or in non-jewish family can believe in God, yet can never become one of his “chosen”?    
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Why should I work when the world is crumbling?

February 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

Listening to you is one of the best things I did last year. You have introduced me to the issues of physical life along with spiritual life and how they go hand in hand. I battle with discouragement due to the bleak future of the economy and nation.

Can you offer some encouragement?  I want to set new goals and pursue them but I can’t help but think what’s the point.

∼ Eduardo

Answer:

Dear Eduardo,

A tale is told of a prisoner who is forced each day to transport painfully heavy rocks. He consoles himself by imagining the great building he is helping to build.  One day, a guard tells him that each night, his back-breaking work is undone as another prisoner has the job of moving the rocks back. Every day he merely undoes the back-breaking work of another prisoner. There is no purpose to the labor other than punishing and exhausting the two prisoners.

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My Husband Has Been Out of Work for a Year

April 16th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Question:

My husband was laid off 12 months ago. He has been searching diligently as well as studying fervently in order to get a new job. He recently had an interview for a company that would be the top of the top for his field. 

He did extremely well on the interview, but was told a few days later they would not continue on.  My husband is flabbergasted and devastated. He keeps running over and over the interview trying to find out what he did wrong. I told him maybe God closed the door with this company. He said God doesn’t close doors. My question is two-fold:

  1. How long should he obsess over trying to figure out what he did wrong to not get the job – what would be the better thing for him to do in order to get the most from this?
  2. Does God open and close doors?

I would love to know what ancient Jewish wisdom has to say on this.

Thank you,

∼ Paula

Answer:

Dear Paula,

Ouch. Being out of work for a year is a horribly painful experience for a man. Being married to someone who is out of work for a year is painful as well. We can only imagine your husband’s devastation when it seemed as if there was finally a breakthrough and then he faced disappointment.

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