Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts for Aseret Yemai Teshuva, the Ten Days of Repentance

Something to think about this Yom Kippur when contemplating God's unity and His concern for mankind:

From Heschel's Man is not Alone:

According to Cicero: "The gods are careful about great things and neglect small ones" (De Natura Deorum. Book ii. ch. 66, 167). According to the prophets of Israel, from Moses to Malachi, God is concerned with small matters. What the prophets tried to convey to man was not a conception of an eternal harmony, of an unchangeable rhythm of wisdom, but the eternal perception of God's concern with concrete situations. Disclosing the pattern of history, in which the human is interwoven with the divine, they breathed a divine earnestness into the world of man.

In mythology the deities are thought of as self-seeking, as concerned with their own selves. Immortal, superior to man in power and wisdom, they are often inferior to man in morality. "Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all the things that are a shame and a disgrace among mortals, stealings and adulteries and deceivings of one another" (Xenophones).

The Bible tells us nothing about God in Himself; all its sayings refer to His relations to man. His own life and essence are neither told nor disclosed. We hear of no reflexive concern, of no passions, except a passion for justice. The only events in the life of God the Bible knows of are acts done for the sake of man: acts of creation, acts of redemption (from Ur, from Egypt, from Babylon), or acts of revelation.

Zeus is passionately interested in pretty female deities and becomes inflamed with rage against those who incite his jealousy. The God of Israel is passionately interested in widows and orphans.