Vayishlach: What is the best way to describe God?
What is the best way to describe God?
Reb Meir Shapira of Lublin contrasts the way in which Jacob described Hashem and the way in which Abraham described Him. In Parshat Vayishlach we read how Jacob established an altar and gave it a name:
“Kel Elokei Yisrael,” meaning, “God is the God of Israel.”
In Parshat Vayeira however we read how Abraham proclaimed the name of God and it was,
“Kel Olam,” – “God of the Universe.”
So whereas for Jacob, Hashem is the God of the People of Israel, for Abraham He is the God of everyone.
But that’s not all. At the beginning of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, God introduces Himself to our people for all time by saying,
“Anochi Hashem Elokeicha.” – “I am the Lord your God,”
in the singular, meaning the God of each individual person.
So from here therefore we see that there are three different descriptions of Hashem in the Torah. And I believe that they all relate to our responsibility.
First of all I have a responsibility to myself because God is my personal God and I need to be responsible for my own spiritual connection with the Almighty. That connection will enhance my life and enable me to have a sacred existence of happiness and meaning always.
In addition I have a responsibility to my people, because God is the God of my people. I am responsible for giving a contribution of great value to my people at all times.
But that is not all. Hashem is the God of all of humankind and my people exist for the sake of everyone in this world. Therefore, as a nation, we have a responsibility to give a contribution of inestimable value to all of humankind, to enrich our societies and to help to make this into a better world.
So what’s the best way to describe Hashem? He’s my God; He’s the God of my people; He’s The God of everyone. And these descriptions should make all the difference to the lives that we lead.