Words Of The Living God

Raphael - New Bedford, Massachusetts
Entered on May 2, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in the power of the religious life to inform the way we live in modernity without constricting the spirit of the individual or subjugating her to one understanding of the world. I believe in the power of faith, and of faiths engaging and reaching out one to the other.

I remember as an intern at Memorial Sloan Kettering the powerful sense of healing revealed to me when ministering to a man of the Christian faith who had AIDS. There I was, a young rabbinical student of the Jewish Theological Seminary. With only the wonderful training found at this hospital, I spoke and dwelt in the valley of the shadow of death with this patient. I found within me a connection to this sick man of another faith.

As a chaplain intern, I knew my role and responsibility. After talking and crying we were ready to pray: one Jew and one Christian. We prayed together and then this man with AIDS crossed himself at the conclusion of the prayer. Crossing himself expressed to me that we had spoken a common language. We had connected — that the prayer of a Jew had reached him and he responded as naturally as a Christian man would. God was there in that bridging moment, one faith to another.

We must preserve the public space to articulate the deepest felt ideas and moral bearings. We exist in a world with little patience for ambiguity and tolerance.

We must be able to tolerate more than one moral position in a world with deep and complex questions. According to Jewish tradition when there are two valid position we say “Elu V’elu divrei Elohim Chayyim” — “these and these are the words of the living God.”

I believe in Judaism’s ability to express the divine and that we must reach the highest levels of communication to talk to other faiths and all people, believers or not.