Jewish Study of the Word
February 26, 2014
By James Buchok
God is in all things, both good and bad, dark and light, says a Winnipeg rabbi, after all, God created everything.
Rabbi Alan Green of congregation Shaarey Zedek began a three-session program on Jewish Study of the Word Feb. 27 at Winnipeg's St. Mary's Academy. The final sessions are March 6 and March 13, both at 7 p.m.
"The deepest understanding of Judaisim is not so different from the deepest understanding of Christianity or any other religion," Green said.
The series is presented by Winnipeg's Bat Kol committee made up of representatives from the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Archdiocese of St. Boniface and the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Winnipeg.
Bat Kol, Hebrew for Voice of God, is a training program established by and for Christians to study the Bible, within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish sources. Bat Kol works to foster an understanding and appreciation of Jewish prayer and the Jewish biblical cycle. There are Bat Kol groups around the world including in the Philippines, South Africa, India, United States, Australia, Ireland and Brazil.
"God created everything, not billions of years ago or 5,774 years ago," said Green, alluding to the Jewish calendar, "it is happening right now. Creation is being created constantly which makes life dynamic. So you don't have to be stuck in the same rotten habits."
"All is from God, every single darn thing, good and not good comes from the same place and that includes horrible things like losing a loved one or a tragic illness. Who knows why they happen but the way to serenity is to accept even the unacceptable," Green said.
He said one of his congregants "went through hell" battling cancer but eventually gained peace of mind. "She said 'I am not in control here, something else is in control and I have no fear of death.'"
"God is not directing evil, but Satan is a faithful servant of God," Green said. "Satan, the adversary, is there to give us freedom of choice otherwise you have no choice in the same way that God doesn't direct us to do anything, it's your choice."
"God is flowing within us and without," said Green as he used an analogy of a fish in the ocean, living in its own paradise, not knowing it's a fish, "until it gets caught. This is how we are, swimming though divinity with no idea of it until we get into deep trouble. Then we say 'where's God, where's divinity, because I'm in trouble now.'"
Green spoke of Judaic scholars, one being Rabbi Levi Yitshak of Berdyczow (1740-1810) and his Hasidic commentary of the Torah, the writings that are the central concept in the Judaic tradition and also the first five books of the Old Testament. (Hasidic Jews are orthodox believers who, Green said, dedicate themselves to evangelization of Jews of a lesser or flagging faith.)
Levi Yitshak wrote that Genesis 2:4 tells "these are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created," but continues in reverse order with "in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."
"The order of creation will be turned on its head when the earth attains what it is supposed to. We are all to lift earth to a higher level than heaven," Green said. "We have the freedom to make choices between good and evil and if we can freely choose to be good and holy we are much higher than the angels because angels don't have a choice. Angels are holy and beautiful but the servants of God."
"Why did God give the animals and the earth to humans?" Green asked. "So we could make it something heavenly."