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What does it mean to "Believe in G-d"?

by Rabbi Manis Friedman

  

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The Short Answer:

To believe in G-d means not that you're of the opinion that He exists, but that you have found relevance in Him.

The Askmoses Answer:

Belief

Even the honest atheist will agree that a first cause, an original being, must have preceded the universe. This original cause or source is what so humbled Einstein, although he incorrectly described it as a religious experience. The questions of faith begin with how we understand this First Cause, its nature, and its relationship to us and to the universe.

The statement, "I believe there is a G-d" is meaningless. Faith is not the ability to imagine that which does not exist. Faith is finding relevance in that which is transcendent. To believe in G-d, then, means not that you're of the opinion that He exists, but that you have found relevance in Him. When a person says "I believe in G-d" what s/he really means is "G-d is significant in my life".

Relevance 

In discussing our relationship with G-d, the question we first need to ask, is, Who cares? In what way is He relevant?

When a person says "I believe in G-d" what s/he really means is "G-d is significant in my life".
For some people, G-d is relevant because they are concerned with the origins of existence. For others, G-d is relevant because they are concerned with the afterlife, and faith is a prerequisite for getting to heaven. Finally, for others, G-d is relevant because they believe that life has purpose.

In Judaism, particularly in Chassidism, the interest in G-d comes from the conviction that life has meaning. The recurring question in Chassidic thought is: Why is a soul sent into the world to be restricted in a physical body, for 80, 90 years? We know there is a purpose, that G-d is the author of that purpose, and we want to know and understand it.

Many Faces

The relevance we find in Him will differ from person to person. Being that He is everything, people will experience G-d in every possible way.

In the beginning, G-d revealed Himself as the creator, master, king -- all very impersonal roles. In Halachah G-d reveals His laws, but doesn't allow His "personal feelings" to show. Later, in the Kabbalah, G-d makes Himself vulnerable; He shares imtimate details.


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Philosophy » Character

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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Halachah
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Halachot
Laws governing the Jewish way of life.
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Kabbalah
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G-d
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.