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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Torah of Reconciliation: Does God prefer peace?

Torah reading   (Photo by Roylindman)
Certainly when reading through the Torah, one can find numerous instances of war.  Some have therefore believed that God is predisposed towards such conflict.

After experiencing 9/11, Rabbi Sheldon Lewis felt "most urgent" about investigating this question:  Does the God of the Torah prefer war or peace?  His book, The Torah of Reconciliation, presents a faithful response to that fundamental question.

Rabbi Lewis drew heavily upon his own life experiences (as a student of the civil-rights activist Abraham Heschel, as a chaplain during the Vietnam War, and as a spiritual leader privy to many interpersonal conflicts) during his ardent quest for answers.  He then turned not only to the Torah - but also to the words of numerous Jewish sages
who, throughout the ages, spoke out about this dilemma.

Although Lewis freely admits that the Torah can be "harsh, militant, wary of the stranger, chauvinistic," he also asserts that it remains "compassionate, uncomfortable with hatred, caring of anyone on the margins, in pursuit of peace, and inclusive of all peoples."  It is this latter view that Lewis emphasizes throughout his book.

After following a "critical-historical approach" to this research, Rabbi Lewis concludes that the Torah is
somewhat a "product of its time and place," and that "God is much more than Torah…"  He also states that
God isn't flawed, but "the way God is perceived is flawed."

Lewis admits to having a bias in favor of a peaceful God, and proceeds to offer a myriad of biblical and other passages to bolster this perception.  In doing so, he has gifted the world with some powerful tools for
making God's peace a reality here on Earth.


Copyright January 7, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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