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Tucson Rabbis Find G-d (in the) Every Day

by Nanci Levy | Jun 07, 2017

May 21 Lecture - 3 RabbisIt is such an honor when one of our Tucson Community Rabbis comes to visit or speak at Handmaker. Imagine how blessed we felt to have three of our Community's Rabbis in the Great Room of Handmaker last month. The Great Room was filled with Handmaker residents and guests from the community who came to hear how some of our community Rabbis find G-d every day, and in the every day. Rabbi Yossi Shemtov, from Congregation Young Israel; Rabbi Thomas Louchheim, from Congregation Or Chadash; and Rabbi Robert Eisen, from Congregation Anshei Israel each shared some personal experiences on how they connect to G-d, and then took some questions from the audience.

Rabbi Shemtov began by telling the group that he believes that there is no such thing as a coincidence. That everything is divine providence. As the Baal Shem Tov said, everything that you see and hear in the world is a lesson on how to serve G-d better. He joked that when he is standing in line at Starbucks behind someone in the Jewish community who knows him, they usually order a breakfast danish instead of their usual breakfast sandwich – that is divine providence!

Rabbi Louchheim shared that he entered the Rabbinate to find out why Judaism was important to him, because it was never a question for him about making a greater connection to G-d. He finds himself studying more and more as he gets older, and that he is strengthened by what he has learned and will continue to learn. He feels that he has a covenantal relationship with G-d, which has guided him in the values of loving kindness and charity to help and connect with others.

Rabbi Eisen believes that in order to connect with G-d, we have to allow G-d to find us. We have to be open to the connection. If our cup is full of ourselves, then there is no room for G-d. It is all about attitude. He believes that we need to remember that every day is a gift.

Several questions from the attendees were focused on belief in G-d, belief in whether G-d wrote the Torah, and how we can connect to G-d when bad things happen to good people. Each Rabbi gave an answer from their perspective. And while there were some differing views, which made for an interesting discussion, there was much more common ground. In response to believing in G-d, Rabbi Shemtov stated that he thinks that even those who say they do not believe in G-d, actually do. He shared a story about someone who kept saying that he could not believe in G-d after the holocaust, because what kind of G-d would allow that to happen. When someone suggested that perhaps G-d made a mistake, the man said “G-d does not make mistakes”. To Rabbi Shemtov, this shows that the man did believe in G-d. In response to a question about whether we have to believe that the Torah was divinely written for us to follow the laws, Rabbi Eisen asked, why does it matter if it is written by G-d? If you want to follow the laws, he does not believe that it matters whether you believe it was divinely written or not. On the question of why bad things happen to good people, Rabbi Louchheim said that we learn and grow from whatever hardships are thrown at us. All three Rabbis agreed on that point.

We are grateful to these three wonderful Rabbis for taking the time to join us here at Handmaker, and we look forward to their next visit!