It is Not Beyond My Reach

 

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’  No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Deut. 30:11)  –Moses

Ever since @iwe pointed out this paragraph to me (which I had only glanced over in the past), I have been in love with it. It speaks so much to my own experience, my own realization about my faith, and the accessibility that I feel toward Judaism and G-d, that it resonates in my heart.

Many years ago, I drifted away from Judaism and pursued Zen Buddhism. In spite of Zen teachings which never referred to a personal G-d, although in a way it alluded to an impersonal G-d through the term, “absolute,” I have always had a sense of G-d, however subtle and distant that sense was, and that feeling never left me.

But when I finally returned to Judaism, again through the gentle encouragement of @iwe to explore it, my life changed. Through my limited study, practice, engagement with two Torah study partners and my interactions with iwe and his family, G-d’s presence has become much more intimate for me. I don’t in any way make this comment to elevate myself above anyone else. Surely there are many, many people who have a closer relationship, a more intense and knowledgeable connection than I do. Yet here is what I have learned from the paragraph quoted above:

I know now that anyone, any person, can reach out to G-d; he is waiting for us, for me, always available and desiring of my being close to Him. He is not distant, but ever-present; no one—no rabbi, scholar, practicing Jew—needs to intercede on my behalf. No one needs to teach me anything to make that possible, point out my failings and weaknesses, for me to experience the truth and love of G-d. When I speak His name, invite Him to be with me, allow my heart to be filled, I know that He is here.

My practice is limited. I know I could do more. And I’m also convinced that G-d is happy that I seek His wisdom and strength.

And I am so very grateful that He is always here.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn:

    My practice is limited. I know I could do more. And I’m also convinced that G-d is happy that I seek His wisdom and strength.

    Amen.

    And I am so very grateful that He is always here.

    Amen again.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    My practice is limited. I know I could do more. And I’m also convinced that G-d is happy that I seek His wisdom and strength.

    Amen.

    And I am so very grateful that He is always here.

    Amen again.

    Thank you, @percival. I also think he sends wonderful people at times to bless my path.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    My practice is limited. I know I could do more. And I’m also convinced that G-d is happy that I seek His wisdom and strength.

    Amen.

    And I am so very grateful that He is always here.

    Amen again.

    Thank you, @ percival. I also think he sends wonderful people at times to bless my path.

    And every so often, a foul ball  like me.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    My practice is limited. I know I could do more. And I’m also convinced that G-d is happy that I seek His wisdom and strength.

    Amen.

    And I am so very grateful that He is always here.

    Amen again.

    Thank you, @ percival. I also think he sends wonderful people at times to bless my path.

    And every so often, a foul ball like me.

    Not gonna let you say that, nope, nope, nope . . . 

    • #4
  5. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Very well said, as usual, @susanquinn. Thank you!

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Very well said, as usual, @ susanquinn. Thank you!

    Thanks, @jimmcconnell. I didn’t say (but know) that G-d is available to everyone, Jewish or not. I didn’t want to sound like I was preaching. But it is so very true.

    • #6
  7. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I have mixed feelings about passages about wisdom. After the initial positive response when I read one, I become acutely aware of how much non-wisdom occupies my thoughts and actions. It is the spiritual equivalent of feeling kinda stupid.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I have mixed feelings about passages about wisdom. After the initial positive response when I read one, I become acutely aware of how much non-wisdom occupies my thoughts and actions. It is the spiritual equivalent of feeling kinda stupid.

    Ah, join the human family, @oldbathos! Wisdom is something we can aspire to, that comes with experience and understanding. No one is wise all the time; if they say they are, they’re fibbing! So yes, as humans we often think of stupid stuff–what we’ll eat for breakfast, how someone popping his gum is going to drive us nuts, how the heat is so oppressive. And then we have an insight that tells us we’ve connected with something both higher and deeper. That makes the dumb moments of life easier to take!

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It occurs to me that my focus appears to be on my relationship with G-d, not my relationship and understanding of the teachings. To me, however, they are inseparable. Experiencing G-d in my life provides great comfort for me. I know that when I feel alone or desolate, G-d is always present. And because I feel that connection, I feel deep gratitude, which moves me to learn even more about G-d and my faith. Out of that learning comes an appreciation for G-d, His teachings, and a deep desire to serve Him. Part of that service means being an example to the world, of what it means to seek good and not evil, of the importance of building relationships, and ways that I can communicate to others the meaning of being a righteous person.

    • #9
  10. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    Shanah tovah! Inspiring the connection you and iWe have!

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Shanah tovah! Inspiring the connection you and iWe have!

    Shanah tovah to you as well, Bethany!

    • #11
  12. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Happy Rosh Hashanah. Coming to you from my Jewish mother- in- law’s house where we had a wonderful holiday dinner. 

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Manny (View Comment):

    Happy Rosh Hashanah. Coming to you from my Jewish mother- in- law’s house where we had a wonderful holiday dinner.

    Thanks so much, @manny! I’m about to sign off for the next two days. I wish a Shana Tovah, happy new year,  for you and your family!

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Thanks so much, Percival. See you in a couple.

    • #15
  16. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Rambam (Moses Maiminides), the great 11th century sage, described love for God as follows:

    And what is the proper [degree] of love? That a person should love God with a very great and exceeding love until his soul is bound up in the love of God. Thus, he will always be obsessed with this love as if he is lovesick.

    [A lovesick person’s] thoughts are never diverted from the love of that woman. He is always obsessed with her; when he sits down, when he gets up, when he eats and drinks. With an even greater [love], the love for God should be [implanted] in the hearts of those who love Him and are obsessed with Him at all times as we are commanded [Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love God…] with all your heart and with all soul.”

    This concept was implied by Solomon [Song of Songs 2:5] when he stated, as a metaphor: “I am lovesick.” [Indeed,] the totality of the Song of Songs is a parable describing [this love].

    Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 10:3

    • #16