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What's all this business about being "G-d fearing"?

by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman


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Fear of G-d has many levels.

When we say people are G-d fearing, we normally don't mean they live in fear that G-d might punch them out for doing the wrong thing. That's a quite shallow fear of G-d.

The real meaning of G-d fearing is fear of separation from G-d—just as an infant is afraid of being left alone by its mother. So too, a healthy soul realizes that certain actions will place a barrier between herself and her Beloved One above, and so she does what she can to avoid those actions.


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Fear of Gd

Posted by: C Weinstein, NY, NY on Apr 17, 2005

Fear that you will embarrass G-d, as one of his Earthy representatives.

What is all this business about being G-d fearing?

Posted by: Reuven Banilov, Brooklyn, NY on May 22, 2005

Before reading this article I thought that being g-d fearing was the fear of sinning, but now I know it is the fearing off being separated from g-d.

Fearing God

Posted by: Louise Smith, McDonough, Georgia, USA on Oct 29, 2005

Fearing G-dd means a devout RESPECT for Him, His Ways, His Attitude, and His Presence. Therefore, fearing G-d means to consciously make decisions based on the Divine teachings and presence of G-d at all times in our lives.

Fear of G-d

Posted by: Dina Tankus, San Jose, CA on Nov 27, 2005

My G-d must be different than other people's G-d, for my G-d is loving and forgiving.

I don't understand why people fear him. So many religions, teach the "Fear of G-d" And that fear of G-d is being used to control them.

Editor's Comment

Yes, G-d is loving and forgiving, and precisely because He is so loving He gave us a gift -- the ability to fear Him. Fear of G-d is extremely beneficial to a person because it controls a person's natural impulses which encourage him/her to do deeds which are destructive, and contrary to G-d's will. It might be ideal to always do the right thing simply because it is right, i.e. out of love. But realistically that is not always the case, and consequence plays a huge role in our decision making. Fear and awe -- whether it is fear of authority, government or G-d -- is a very healthy and vital component of a stable civilization.

Fearing G-d

Posted by: Joseph, Houston, TX, US on Dec 21, 2005

It seems suggested that fearing G-d is a measure of control intended to prevent one from doing bad things. But wouldn't G-d want us to not fear Him in this sense and wish us to simply to whats right not out of fear of punishment but out of respect and delight for doing the right thing?

I don't think its good to only follow G-d as a means to save one from punishment.

Editor's Comment

There are advantages to serving G-d because one delights in the spirituality and beauty inherent in this service, serving Him out of love; and, indeed, we are commanded to love G-d just as we are commanded to fear Him. However, love implies that the person is serving out of a personal desire to do that which is proper, and personal preferences are subject to change based on mood swings, strong temptations, changing circumstances, etc. Fear, on the other hand, isn't predicated on personal preference; it is a reaction to an external force -- an external force which is unchanging no matter the person's current disposition and impulses.

Fear of G-d

Posted by: x ben x on Dec 31, 2005

Using the term "fear of G-d", at least in an English speaking environment, is often misconstrued as a fear that He will squish you, heaven forbid. In the Zohar, in paragraphs 189-197 of the Prologue to the Zohar , it talks about the first commandment (Bereshit bara Elokim), which is to fear G-d. It says that this is the most important of all the precepts, and it speaks of three kinds of fear. The first is the person that fears G-d "so that his sons will live and not die". This fear is not fulfilling the precept, because the cause the above fear is his desire for his own benefit, the fear of the Creator being merely a convenience. The 2nd fear is the one who fears G-d "because he is afraid of the punishment that awaits him in the other world, and the tortures of Gehenom". Once again, this fear does not complete the first precept because it is only out of a concern for himself that this person fears G-d. The true fear is "when a person fears his Master because he is almighty". Awe of G-d.

Fear of G-d

Posted by: Jacob Marley, Malibu, CA on Jan 07, 2006

The fear of G-d has to do with His holiness, His otherness. Look at the prophets when they experienced G-d's presence (see Isaiah). The fear of G-d comes when you figure out who you’re dealing with, One who could speak the universe into existence. It's not fear, like of a spider or a thief, but fear that comes from dealing with a being who is so beyond your comprehension that you would fall "as if dead" if you came close to Him. You'll never fear Him if you don't know Him.

Yasher koach,

Fear of God

Posted by: Worldz, Lagos, Nigeria on Jan 22, 2006

There are two types of people in this world, those who fear God and those who do not fear him. Fear of God is not "fearful for God" like you fear a wicked man or woman. The real meaning of fear of God is the consciousness/desire to always do what is right whether someone is watching you or not because the right thing to do is to do what is right. Fear of God is not fearing God to not kill you cause God is not a dangerous being... you reading this message no matter how good remains more dangerous than God. Fear of God is rather a consciouness thing; the consciousness to do what is right "because it's the right thing to do for your own good and for the good of others", whether it's obeying the Government's law, browsing the internet, walking along the street....everything!!. God do not benefit anything from your fear of him, if you fear him it's for your own good. It is to the benefit of someone to do what is right than to do what is wrong. Your fear of God determines the type of a person you are.

Fear of G-d

Posted by: Miriam Pau, Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Feb 10, 2006

I definately agree with the article and with the comment from Jacob Marley on Jan 22, 2006.

For those that love the L-rd, being separated from Him is the ultimate ponishment, we know that sin separates us from G-d. We read in the scriptures how people felt fear in his presence. To be in the presence of such being as the creator of "every thing", and to think that we are so small. How awesome for us to be in His Holy presence! That's the way I feel when I come before Him in prayer.

Fear of G-d

Posted by: Nate, Naperville, Illinios on Jan 31, 2007

Before I read this article, I though fearing G-d meant being afraid that if you do something to "dishonor" G-d, G-d could punish you severely, so you respect G-d, as you would, for example, respect a king for fear of yourself. After reading this way of fearing G-d, I know that instead of being feared of being punished, I should fear that by the actions I do every day, I may create a barrier between myself and G-d.


Philosophy » Consequences

It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.