The Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple On the Plaza: I believe the image of God put forth in religious books is a fabrication from the mind of man. A wise old man with long hair and beard sitting on a throne somewhere in the far off reaches of the clouds is quite a compelling image.
Especially when lightening is coming out of his fingers. What greater image could there be to watch over and protect one when on the battlefield. I don’t believe we were created in the image of God. Quite the opposite. God was created by men in their image because their imaginations could stretch no further.
There is an everywhere present energy or spirit throughout the universe. This spirit is the source of all life and the essence of our being. It provides for our needs. Its only physical manifestation is through that which it has created, yet there is no place where God is not. The closest definition of God that we can arrive at is, “God is it all.”
How does one deepen his or her relationship with God? By deepening his or her relationship with “it all.”
Peace of mind is our greatest desire. Harmony is our most natural state. Love is the greatest experience we can have in life. When those three are present in consciousness, there is the awareness of God.
Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Hyman Brand Academy: What is the difference between an image and an essence? The two may be worlds apart, but the image still has a profound connection to the Creator’s essence.
How does this manifest? Are there ways that we truly reflect the essence of the Divine?
Rabbi Yehuda Loew of Prague, a great 16th-century philosopher and mystic, offered a possible explanation. There is a significant distinction between a commandment and an act of loving kindness, which is not obligatory.
We are obliged to tithe our income for the sake of the poor and communal institutions. It’s a lovely thing to do, but it is imposed from scripture. Believers do not have a choice but to do what is required of them.
God’s engagement in the world is not one of obligation or duty, but one of generosity and will. Flawed as we are, we are capable of great acts of compassion that we are not obliged to do. We are impelled, but not compelled.
It is these moments when we perfectly fulfill the promise of being created in God’s image.
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