Questions Of Our Age
- Questions and issues regarding life, purpose, and destiny.
- How and why was the world created?
- How and why are we created?
- What is the central purpose of our life?
- How are we best to achieve that purpose?
- Are we able to communicate and receive guidance from the creative source?
- Does that creative source use agents to communicate and guide us?
- What happens to us when we die?
- The Basis
- Guidance &
- After Life
- More Questions?
Prior to addressing these questions we must first provide our basis for dealing
Judaism believes that G-d communicated directly with Mankind and provided a set
of teachings which we call the Torah. This occurred some thirty-three centuries ago,
shortly after the Exodus. Moses was the intermediary.
The nature of this communication is truly unique. The Jewish people believe
that Moses was a true prophet of G-d but not because of his powers of persuasion or his
charismatic personality. Rather, at Mount Sinai G-d communicated directly to Moses in the
presence of the entire Jewish nation, which consisted at that time of several million
people. At Sinai G-d established a trusted channel of communication for once and for all.
We thus know that Moses is true only because we heard G-d talk to him. The teachings of
Moses are the Jewish peoples reference point for religious truth.
A change to the Torah of Moses is therefore impossible to consider without
another Mount Sinai experience. We believe that the public Revelation of G-d at Mount
Sinai will not be repeated.
The Torah was transmitted with two distinct components, one written and one
oral. The written Torah is known as the Bible or Written Torah. It is called The Old
Testament by Christianity. The other component of the Torah was transmitted orally for
fifteen centuries, after which time it began to be recorded because of atrocities to which
Jews were subjected and because of the threat of interruption to the transmission. Still
called today the Oral Torah, portions of this body of knowledge are reflected in such
great writings as the Talmud and the Medrash.
The Torah provides Mankind with instructions for living in this world. From
these teachings, Mankind can know the actions and values which they are expected to adopt
and for which they and the environment were designed.
The Torah provides instructions for both Jews and Non-Jews. Everyone can
The Torah provides a basis from which we can address the above questions.
To fully understand how the world was created, one needs to first know what was
Mankind is coming to realize the vastness of the universe and its contents. We
may never be able to fully grasp what
was created. If so, can we adequately address how
it was created?
The beginning of the Book of Genesis discusses the creation of the world
through the divine Deity.
We do know that all was created by a Being whose capabilities and greatness are
beyond our imagination. There is nothing like Him.
The Torah teaches that G-d created everything from nothing.
To address why the world was created, one must accept that G-d provided a means
for Mankind to relate with Him. Otherwise, the question of why may have no
relevance for a Being which is beyond the comprehension of Mankind.
The Torah teaches that the world was created so that Mankind can experience the
greatest form of happiness - a close and eternal relationship with G-d.
Mankind was designed so that in order to achieve the highest form of
satisfaction, people must make themselves worthy of this happiness. This includes a system
and an environment for testing, free-choice, reward, and punishment.
We thus speak of at least two worlds, this world where we take responsibility
and control for behavior, and the next world where we reap rewards. The worlds are
mutually exclusive. One can expect to work hard in this world. One will not have the
opportunity to better himself in the next world.
This world was designed and is managed by G-d himself so that it constantly
provides Mankind with whatever it needs to achieve greatness. This opportunity will be
available for as much time as G-d provides Mankind with this opportunity.
Thus, the central purpose of life is for our benefit. We will best achieve that
purpose by carefully studying and following the instructions for living which G-d
As stated above, the Torah consists of all of the guidance that G-d intended to
provide Mankind. That is, G-d gave a teaching which contains sufficient guidance to last
The instructions that He gave was to include communicating directly for as long
as that level of relationship could be maintained. We were worthy of direct communication
with G-d for the first thousand years of Jewish history. Direct communication is what we
A prophet is a person and people are subject to weakness and failure, per their
exercise of free-will choice. G-d makes it possible for a person to misrepresent
him/herself as a prophet and to even exploit others with it. G-d makes it possible for
people to allow themselves to become religiously exploited, if they want to for social
reasons, for convenience, for any reason.
Today, Mankind is thus presented with a massive and bewildering choice of
organized religions which are basically mutually exclusive.
The Torah provides guidelines for the broadening of Torah practice, especially
when related to the historical experiences of the generations. An example of this is the
kindling of the Chanukah candles in remembrance of the evil tyranny that we were delivered
The Torah indicates that a prophet who directs a change to the Torah in a
manner that is outside these guidelines is a false prophet.
Traditional Judaism rejects the notion of the Torah being subject to free
interpretation. Rather, together with the Torah, G-d provided methods for understanding
the Torah and methods of applying its principles to our lives.
Traditional Judaism bases all opinion, values, and perspectives on that which
is written in the Torah. Opinion, values, and behavior that are intentionally not
consistent with that which is written in the Torah can not legitimately be considered
Jewish, regardless of whether people who are Jewish choose to adopt them.
G-d closely manages the world, is aware of everything, and is concerned for
all. He also sees to it that the mechanism of free-choice is not disturbed. In His wisdom,
based on the actions of Mankind, G-d ceased to directly communicate with mankind through
prophecy and this will continue until the Messianic era. This does not preclude G-d from
providing insight and inspiration to Mankind in a concealed manner.
Mankind can communicate directly to G-d through prayer. As stated above, this
world is for testing and growth. G-d does not make his presence obvious and therefore it
is a rare and treasured experience when one can relate an event in his/her personal life
The Torah provides insight for life in this world. From the Torah, we do not
know in great detail much about the next world except that it will match our
accomplishments of this world with astonishing precision to shape our eternal destiny.
These two facts place the emphasis on service rather than reward to preserve the integrity
of our lifes work.
G-d is just and fair. Crime and misdeed should not and will not pay. Because of
the need to conceal G-ds management in the form of immediate cause and effect
retribution, thereby maintaining free-choice, this will not become obvious during our
lifetime in this world.
The next world is a world of truth, with no place or way to hide. In this world
one is in control of making choices between doing good and evil. In the next world, in the
absence of evil, however, we will not have this control. In this world one may have the
erroneous impression that he/she are in control of everything else. One really isnt.
In the next world this will be obvious.
As much as one should be concerned with Burning In Hell, one should
really be more concerned about Burning In Heaven. We will all some day kick
ourselves quite hard for not doing more, becoming greater when the opportunity was open to
us. This is, after all, the real challenge in life to see through the transparency of
transient values and focus on what is real and eternal.
Its not worth it to worry about the process of death. Itll happen.
G-d took care of us getting into this world and He will take care of us getting out. Just
accept it. Do your best to lead a meaningful existence and repent before and during death.
Its your last and only chance. Dont let something discourage you and talk you
into thinking that G-d will reject you, that your final acts and thoughts are meaningless.
Its just your final test.
Dont wait for your greatness until then. If youre on vacation,
dont wait until tomorrow to get down to work. There may be no tomorrow.
All of the above should invite more questions that we started with. It is
crucial for spiritual survival for one to be able to accept and live with the uncertainty
of unanswered questions and with the humility to recognize our own limited abilities to
fully grasp the secrets of lifes complex tapestry. This we have inherited from our
forebears who, in great faith and sacrifice blazed the trail and paved the path for us to
venerate and emulate.
Question - Search - Thirst - And Find!
The author is indebted to Rabbi Shmuel Blech for providing insightful comments
on the above material.
Tzvi Black, 2000