By Emma Hyett, President of HOOCHY, Shaarei-Beth El Congregation of Halton in Oakville, Ontario, and CIT at URJ Camp George
This D’var Torah was written by Emma for a youth-led service as part of her youth group’s program, “God Talks”.
I want you all to take a moment to think about why you believe in God. Is it because God makes sense of human existence? Is it because you believe there is a greater power than just the human race? Or maybe it is just because as a Jew that is what you were taught to believe. No matter what it is, many of us have chosen for one reason or another to believe in one God.
Like all Torah portions, this week’s Torah Portion Behar-Bechukotai talks a lot about God. In the Torah it makes it seem very easy to believe in God because it says that if you believe you will get water, food, shelter, peace and much more. But, many people who follow God’s rules still suffer. People who believe in God can still be homeless and hungry. One of the hardest times for the Jews was the Holocaust. How can people continue to believe in God when something so horrible and tragic happens. The Jews believed, did everything God said, but this still happened. And then the bible says that if you don’t follow God’s rules bad things will happen to you. But there are still many people who don’t believe and still have a good life. So what are we supposed to think? What are we supposed to believe?
This year the upper school students have been learning a lot all about God. We have been trying to understand why people believe in God and why people don’t. We started off this year talking about how in biblical times, God spoke to people like Moses. He told them what to do and they did it because they knew it was the right thing to do. But now if someone told you that they had a conversation with God yesterday or that they think God tried to talk to them, you would probably think they were crazy. But why? Maybe the reason that people don’t think God is here anymore is because people don’t allow themselves to hear or really listen to God.
We then started to talk about if God loves us. Some people find it hard to think that God loves us because how could someone that loves us let all these bad things happen to us and to the world. And if we love God, God must be real because can you really love something that does not exist? This brought us to our next topic which was about miracles. I think that miracles are different for everyone. Some people don’t think miracles exist anymore. God has not parted the sea recently or made 2 days worth of oil last 8 days. But other people think there are miracles all around us: When a tree that almost looks dead lives, when children fight for peace, when medical inventions are discovered that can save lives. So if all these miracles are happening, then someone must be making it all happen right? Maybe not.The point is that we will never know if there is a God all around us, watching over us or protecting us.
Although it can be hard to believe in God because of all the negative things that have happened like terrorist attacks, plane crashes, children dying of cancer, Trump taking over America and so much more, we have to think of all the amazing and incredible things that have happened. Just last week the synagogue went on an interfaith walk, youth are standing up against gun violence, organizations are putting a stop to sexual assault, schools are being built in Africa so children have a better education, doctors are saving lives everyday. Our world is a beautiful place filled with animals, nature, life and opportunity. I think that the world itself is a miracle. There are 7 billion people living on this planet and to me that is incredible and to me. Maybe all these bad things have to happen so we can see the good things and become stronger, wiser and happier humans.
Something very important in the Jewish religion is Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. God gave us this planet so now we have to respect it and work hard to keep it as beautiful as it is. We can’t count on God to do that for us. God told us to repair the world, so now we have to do it. Somehow, with or without God, we are here and somehow, the world is here. There is no right or wrong way to believe in God and I think that that is what makes religions so unique.
Everyone has a different opinion and thinks about it differently. I think everyone in upper school enjoyed hearing everyone’s different opinions and thoughts because it made themselves think about their opinion from a different perspective. I do think that God is here and I do believe that there are miracles every day, maybe not for the same reasons you all do , but I am here on this planet and to me that is because of something, someone. So, I want you all to think once again about why you believe in God?