Does God Talk to Us? – a Study for Shavuot

(Photo by Jenny Fish)

Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek sent out this email. We all hear of people who say God told them to do something. Do Jews believe that God does that? Join Rabbi Milder and Rabbi Schulman for a stimulating virtual discussion for Shavuot. Details below.


Does God Talk to Us?
Does God talk to people? Did God used to talk to people, but not anymore? If God speaks, do we hear that in language? Does God use words?

The Torah is about speech. God created the world by speaking it into existence: “And God said, Let there be light.” But, like the proverbial tree in the forest, if no one was there to hear God, can we really call it speech?

The word for divine communication is “revelation.” But even the Torah is conflicted about just how literally to understand revelation. God spoke with Moses “face to face,” but most of the prophets had to make do with visions, like Isaiah, whose book begins, “The vision (chazon) of Isaiah.”

Rabbinic Judaism was rightfully skeptical of peoples’ claims that God had spoken to them. That is a natural part of the normalization of religion. If people can keep claiming new revelations, who is to stop them from saying that Judaism got it all wrong?

Rabbi Schulman of Temple Beth Torah and I will have the delightful task of untangling Judaism’s view of revelation on the evening of Shavuot, this Thursday, May 28. Shavuot is the holiday that commemorates the moment that God spoke the Ten Commandments, as we stood at Sinai.

Our service begins at 7:30 pm, and will be followed by a study session. Rabbi Schulman will explore the ancient Midrash on revelation, while I will dive into the views of modern Jewish thinkers on the same topic. It is going to be a lively conversation, and you can take part.

The service and study session will take place on Zoom, and you do need to register in advance.

Please sign up at Shavuot with CBE & TBT, and you will receive the Zoom link prior to the service.

Posted in God, Shavuot
Published on May 26th, 2020