Honorable Mensch-ion

God as Coach

The modern theologian Rabbi Neil Gilman once assigned our Rabbinical school class this task: Create your own God metaphor. We were required to ask the same question that we ask our own toddlers, “What does God look like to you?”

The artists in the class drew a picture, and the poets composed poems. I came up with something different. With a passion for sports, I described God as a coach. When a team is winning, it is the coach who is in the shadows. The players often receive the credit for what happens on the court. Yet, when the chips are down, and losing becomes a normal activity, the coach is the one whose blame falls on his shoulder, and he is the first to go.

This is a common occurrence with our perception of God. When our own world is thriving, when there is nothing to complain about, do we shower thanks to the one above? Or do we wait until the losses pile on, blame the coach, and look for a different source of power?

This Shabbat, we read the second paragraph of the Shema, vhaya im shamoa. The first paragraph of the Shema is written in the singular-“You shall love your God.” This paragraph is written in the plural – “If you do not heed the mitzvot of God.” The Rabbis answer that we are first required to accept the yolk of Heaven individually, then, as a people we are expected to take on the mitzvot of our tradition.

Love of God is personal; actualizing this love of God is a team sport. Join the team today!

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