Explanation of the Nature of God in Judaism
29 SEP 2017
Judaism is the oldest of the three major monotheistic religions, the first religion to introduce the idea of a single, perfect and unified God that was master and creator of everything. The Jewish religion has developed through a relationship to this God. Although Jewish philosophy since the Hebrew Bible has evolved to include new ideas about God, the basic character of the Jewish God has remained the same.
The most important characteristic of the God of the Jews is oneness. Although this might seem like a fairly traditional idea, it was completely revolutionary at the time of its inception. Judaism emerged out of a world in which almost every community believed in many different gods with varying attributes, characteristics and motives. Abraham developed a relationship with a single, unified God, introducing the world to monotheism. Part of God's singularity is that, while polytheistic religions involved imperfect gods whose motives are in conflict, the Jewish God is universal, all powerful and all good.
According to Judaism, God created the natural world, including all of its boundaries like time and space, and is totally independent of these constraints experienced in the natural world. Therefore, God is at some level above and beyond comprehension. In fact, one of the primary characteristics of God in the Jewish Bible is that he cannot be fully seen or understood by people. This is why God is often called Ha'shem, translated to “the name,” or YHVH in the Torah, a name that is not meant to be uttered. In addition to being indescribable, God's demands, such as the demand that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac, can be unexplainable, making faith in the face of confusion an important attribute of a Jewish person's relationship with God..
3 Personal Involvement
One of Judaism's most important goals is to develop a personal relationship with God. This does not mean that God will interact with each person in a conventional sense. In fact, one of the contradictions of the Jewish religion is that people, following Abraham's example, develop a personal relationship with a force that is beyond comprehension. However, God is not understood as neutral or detached. Although God might not manifest in ways that can easily be understood, he cares about and has a will for each individual.
Judaism does not place as much value in beliefs as in actions and conduct. The point of belief in God is to lead a good life and to fulfill higher moral purposes like loving and giving. God guides people in this through commands, which are found throughout the Bible, and are embodied in the Ten Commandments. God relates to people, both individuals and the Jewish community, through special bonds or covenants. For example, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a nation if he would follow God. Jews believe that God will give them all they need if they follow his guidance.