Through prose that is deeply poetic and critically compelling, in the latest issue of the Shofar journal, Professor Monica Osborne takes quite seriously the Talmudic assertion that “there is always another interpretation.”
Much of Ostriker’s work speaks to what she interprets as our own contemporary needs, specifically our collective desire for peace, and this book is no exception. “We need,” she writes, “a God who can encourage fewer crusades, jihads, occupations, massacres, and assassinations, and more treaties; a God whose primary metaphors are not hierarchical, imperialistic, and dualistic; a God to help us survive the nuclear age” (p. 4). The implication here is that we, as thinkers, dreamers, and believers, are responsible for creating a God who speaks to the needs of the contemporary era. The God that we have placed in the heavens thus far has not proven himself to be consistently attentive to the sufferings and longings of a generation that has been cracked and splintered by events such as the Holocaust, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the genocides of Darfur and Rwanda among other terrors and tragedies. But while Ostriker proposes the need for an alternative God, she implies that the creation of such a God is our own responsibility. And in this way she taps into one of the primary tenets of the Torah and of Judaism itself, which is to love one’s neighbor—an infinite responsibility that also burdens us with the task of envisioning not a God of children, who doles out rewards and punishments, but a God of adults, who inspires us to engage in meaningful dialogue with one another.
…It is this ambiguity and mystery, the multiplicity of twists and turns, confusions and contradictions, that force us away from imagining God as the source of morals, ethics, and justice. It is we mortals who must be this source “if justice is ever to be established on earth,” and further, perhaps “the Holy One waits for us to issue our challenge. Perhaps God does not know how to be just until human beings demand it” (p. 134).
While my mate Joey would be gushing, "Oh, you are so right, Monica," I fear that the sentiments above are the fiercest heresy and it is with great trepidation that I place them on my blog. Oy, I fear that weak minds will be corrupted. Oy, I’ve placed a stumbling block before the blind. Oy, I am a man of unclean lips.