Most of the time, don’t talk to Jews about God. It’s, like, rude. Like talking about intimate private matters in a public space. Like asking people how much their annual income is. Gross or net. Don’t do it.
Christians love to talk about God. See a license plate that says, “Praise Him,” and I guarantee it’s not a Jew. If you hear a famous person, athlete or celebrity, talking about God, I can promise it’s not a Jew. Jews are super stuffy when it comes to God.
Yet there has been a shift. Not tectonic, not seismic. But significant. Important. Because the Jews are looking for God.
Every week I create a “one-minute parsha video” (Instagram’s limit, and also the limit of most people’s attention span), which is some inspirational message–I hope–about that week’s Torah portion of the week that is read aloud at synagogue. I post it on social media, and wait to see reactions. Usually, because I serve a diverse audience, I try to broadcast some universal message of hope and encouragement, but I’m careful not to get too “God-heavy.” You try creating religious content that’s not God-heavy. It ain’t easy.
My parsha video doesn’t get that much traffic on social media, because not everyone is interested in the parsha (a pic of my dog would be way more popular), but the series has a small and loyal following.
But these days I’m sounding downright Christian in my posts. My most recent parsha video came attached with this caption:
How many times have you said, “I can’t do this. This is not for me. I don’t know how. I’m not strong enough”? Here’s the thing: we *don’t* have strength by ourselves. Our strength is supported by God. Moses said, “God, I can’t be a leader. I can’t speak to Pharaoh. I am NOT a man of words.” But in this week’s parsha, he begins his swan song to his beloved, infuriating, irrepressible nation. And he speaks for THIRTY-SEVEN DAYS. Without help. You know why? God told him why. When Moses resisted leadership, claiming lack of expertise and imposter syndrome, God said: “But I’ll be with you.” It was never supposed to be you doing stuff alone. God is holding your hand. He is with you. You’ve got this.
Even my hashtags are daring greatly.
This post was warmly received by many of my Jewish followers across the religious spectrum. The world, to repeat a cliche, has been brought to its knees. Our gods are gone. The economy, gone; our almighty schedules, gone; sports and entertainment, gone; camp and school and overscheduled kids and adults, gone; the frenetic rat race, retail therapy, and the quest for materialism, all but gone. What’s left? In the words of King David, “From where will my help come?” If I can’t rely on all my usual lifeboats, what’s left?
And here come the Jews, peeking tentatively, bashfully, into the Torah, stuttering the questions that have been there since we were kids, the big questions that feel almost too big to ask, the questions we were all too busy and too shy to talk about.
Who is God? What is God? Where is He, She, or It? Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God care about little old me? And if so, how can I tell?
Dear Jews. You’re in the right place. It’s okay to talk about God. It’s okay. You’ve got this. Because #godlovesyou, and #thatsajewishhashtag.