Experience God in EverythingJune 23, 2022 - 12:00 am
You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. — Numbers 15:39
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shelach, which means “send,” from Numbers 13:1–15:41.
I want to tell you about one of the most common Jewish practices. Before we eat food of any kind, we recite a very short blessing. For example, before eating a piece of fruit we say, “Blessed are you Lord, our God, king of the universe, who created the fruit of the tree.” We acknowledge that God created the food we are about to taste. But this is more than simply giving God credit.
By making this blessing, the act of eating is transformed. What would have been a simple experience of the taste, texture, and nutrients of the fruit becomes an experience of God. The Jewish sages wrote that “everything that God created, He made only for His glory” (Ethics of the Fathers 6).
In other words, every single thing in creation can be used as a way to experience God. But if we are to experience God in everything in creation, we need to be looking for Him. We have to be willing to see Him beyond the surface of our experience. That’s the purpose of the blessings we say.
Experience God in Everything
We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion in the description of the tzitzit, the fringes or tassels that are to be added to the corners of our garments. We read, “You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.”
In what ways do the tassels remind us of “all the commands of the LORD”? In God’s instructions to the people on how to make the tassels, they were told to include “a blue cord” on each tassel (Numbers 15:38). The sages in the Talmud explained that the blue colour reminds us of the sea. The sea reminds us of the sky. The sky reminds us of God in heaven above.
When I first learned this, I remember thinking, “That’s a lot of steps! Why not just say that the blue thread reminds us of God in heaven?” But that’s exactly the point. To see God, we need to search for Him. We need to look beneath the surface. We need to see Him in the sea, in the sky, in the food that we eat, and in everything around us.
But whether or not we see Him is up to us.
Your turn: As you go through your day, look for ways to experience God — from the food you eat, to the people you meet, to the tasks you accomplish.