Harold Kushner and Seeing the Invisible God

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Managed to get to Rabbi Harold Kushner’s session on Seeing the Invisible God this afternoon (after hanging with the wife on Newbury St., catching up with my coach, and seeing my parents and son who’d spent the day together. My dad (Rabbi Harold Robinson) described the talk as a series of ‘petichtot and nechemtot’, and I’d say that was pretty accurate. As a result I’ll give you some of the various pithy quotes–may they find their way into a sermon of yours soon!

The question we’re often asked is: How do I convince my 14 year old to believe in God? But this is a Christian Heresy: that religion is defined by faith. Rather we should ask, How do I get my teenager to recognize when he has encountered God?

It’s not just that God is invisible…hard to believe that something can be real if it doesn’t have tangible form.

Problem: we only see God as controlling Events. We have no control over what the world does to us. We have total control over how we respond to what the world does to us.

God’s job is not to make sick people healthy (that’s a doctor’s job), but to make sick people brave.

Our presence validates (in shiva, the hospital room, etc.) the sense that God cares about them. Restore their faith that they are cared about.

The days you don’t spend doing shiva now will be spent with a therapist next year. Better to do it right the first time.

Shiva and bikkur cholim are the therapy of knowing that people care.

When you are forgiven, you have the experience of encountering God who Forgives

When you couldn’t do something and then you can, that is encountering God who allows us to grow.

That first day when you’re not sick after being sick, encountering God who is rofei cholei yisrael

When we take on a challenge: discovering how strong you are. God is Hanotain l’yaef koach

What gives us the right when we say a bracha “Baruch Atah Adonai”? we need that affirmation that when I perform a mitzvah God is present.

To recite those words is to affirm that God is present in what I’m doing.

What’s the point of congregational prayer? Something happens when people come together—minyan, a group of people relate to God’s holiness happens differently in a public space.

We make very few pilgrimages to sacred places but a great many pilgrimages to sacred moments.

We as Liberal Jews are MORE complete, blending the best of American life and Judaism. We are SHALEM. Not a diluted Judaism but a supplemented Judaism.