Friday, November 18, 2011

God as a father

I have mentioned before a line that my therapist told me and that is to view God as a loving zeide (grandfather) rather than an abusive father. It is a beautiful thought. As with everything there is a gap between knowledge and implementation.

I want to explore why I find this ideal to be incredibly difficult to implement.

It has been said that out of The 10 Commandments, the first 5 are of a "bein adam l'makom" nature (between man and God). These include belief in God, not to commit idolatry and shabbos. The last 5 have been said to be "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and his friend or fellow man). These include, murder, kidnapping, coveting etc.

One of the 10 commandments is honoring your father and mother. On a simple level we might suggest the idea behind this mitzva is very much "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and friend). The concept being to give thanks to your parents for giving you life, raising and supporting you.

However, which number commandment is honoring your parents? Number 5. It is part of the "Bein adam l'makom" mitzvos.

The obvious question is why? While one might say it's really God that gives you life and sustains you etc, that would be a cute approach but doesn't seem to lend to the core of the reasoning and placement of this commandment.

I believe I have the correct (albeit painful) approach.

I wonder if the reason God gave us the mitzvah of honoring our parents is because he wanted us to have a human entity that would serve as a platform to allow us to learn how to honor Him. (Please take that in for a moment). Who in our physical existence would be the best "moshol" or parable for us to use as a means to learn to honor Him? Certainly our parents! All we know as a baby, then an adolescent and into child and adulthood is that our parents are our care givers. They are the ones who are supposed to supply security, comfort and love to us. If we learn to honor them we learn to honor God. We can look at this as a mitzva that squarely falls on us as individuals to learn how to perform. With this logic it is almost more incumbent on the parents to teach us to honor them appropriately so that we can live a life of honor, love and respect toward God.

I believe that a persons relationship with God will mirror their relationship with their parents (specifically in my case with my father). A healthy loving, nurturing and mutual respect between a parent and child will lead to the same with Hashem. A difficult and painful relationship with a parent will leave us feeling that God is the same. I recognize that it's not always this black and white and ones situation can fall anywhere between the two extremes.

I challenge you to think about the relationship you have with Hashem and see if it connected with the relationship you had with the parent that had the more profound influence on your life (Think about your partners, close friends as well and I am confident you will perceive the same pattern).

This is undoubtedly my story as well as many of my close friends.

This is why, while I adored my grandfather and would love to see God in that light, it simply is against teva (nature) and is a lifelong battle.


  1. Festival,

    Please tell us more. Spell it out. Write about your father.

    em (you know me from email)

  2. Fest, thank God you had your Grandfather. You are right how can we love a Father who is abusive and not caring? How can we force ourselves to feel something that is not there? We mirror relationships we have in our lives. So our relationship as you say with God is what we learned from our relationship with our Father. I am forced to find the father within myself. I know that I have no role model to follow. How many people are looking for Father figures? We must find the Father from within. You have your Grandfather's influence to help you. You are also aware and not passing the same genes to your children. You are also changing yourself and the world by being open about your feelings in this blog which again are righting the wrongs given to you. Josh

  3. Sorry Fest, my spell checker changed your name to "Festival" :(

  4. Powerful thought! I'm embarrassed to say I have struggled with this for years. Only recently am I able to look at Hashem as a caring father. When I'm feeling alone dealing with my situation I try to tap into that love