Image: Sombrero Fog Galaxy, photo by the Hubble Telescope, via Wikimedia. Public Domain.
Tomorrow night I’m going to be teaching “God, Covenant & Mitzvah,” in Intro to Judaism class. It’s a challenging topic for many, because it’s one of the areas where Judaism is quite different from many other religions.
There are no creeds in Judaism. As a rule, Judaism is much more concerned with speech and behavior than it is with belief. Judaism is a religion of doing: making the world better through actions and the careful use of language.
There are two books I recommend to students who are interested in exploring the topic of God & Judaism further:
Finding God: Selected Responses by Rifat Sonsino and Daniel B. Syme is a very succinct introduction to Jewish ideas about God over the centuries.
God? Jewish Choices for Struggling with the Ultimate edited by Josh Barkin is a wonderful little book written for adolescents. It addresses questions such as “Who created God?” and “Does prayer work?” and “Where do people go when they die?” The answers are short answers from rabbinical students and young Jewish teachers, and they provide a nice feel for the variety of voices and opinions in the Jewish world.
These two are the best books I know for approaching the questions most people want to ask about Jewish belief. Beyond them, we move very quickly into much deeper water and heavy duty theological language. I recommend you read these two, and if you are interested in going further, ask your rabbi for suggestions!