Avinu Malkeinu, our Father, our King, we say repeatedly in the Prayers of Rosh haShannah, Jewish New Year. Why not just Avinu? Why not just Malkeinu?
We may have seen people who really seem to fear Heaven. They constantly and feverishly beg for Divine mercy, away from absolute sternness, and for receiving goodness and reward.
However, in the extreme, they do not have a pleasant life and are not pleasant people to interact with. Everything revolves around deserving and not deserving, and a stream of judgments never leaves their mouth and brain alone. They are still chewing the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil – Genesis 2:18, 3:5).
But a Jewish life should be pleasant (Proverbs 3:17) and we should greet everyone with a smile. So something is off when we live in constant fear. Fear of Heaven should be like a safety belt: for when we go off the rails, that we don’t fly out towards our death. But safety belts should not hinder breathing. Life is meant to be a gift, not a visitation, scourge.
In Islam, a most popular prayer is G-d is Great. Such an imbalance has left a trail of blood the world over, all throughout history. If one is too stern, tremendous aggression will burst forth one day.
In contrast, we may have met people who really understand that G-d is good and loving. They bask in His light all day long, which makes them less alone and life more pleasant.
However, in the extreme, their lives are idle, they do not strive to become better people, and they have become or stayed too ignorant or unaware of worthy limits and goals.
But we should challenge ourselves, use our Free Will and improve ourselves all the time. Stagnation means decline. G-d’s whole intention with creating the Universe was to be generous, but that should not lead us to merely live a life of receiving and hedonism, without any attempt to be a partner with G-d in elevating ourselves and mending the world. That would be such a waste.
In Christianity, a most popular prayer is the Our Father. Such an imbalance has left a trail of blood the world over, all throughout history. If one is too sweet, tremendous aggression will burst forth one day.
So we need both. To see G-d as loving and to see Him as stern – at the same time. To live well, to feel good most of the time, we need to see His goodness, generosity and omniscient understanding. To live well, to have a responsible and meaningful life in which we set limits and challenge ourselves, we need to recognize Him as an absolute omnipotent Monarch.
On Rosh haShanah we make clear again that He’s our King. But we do not forget He’s our Father too.
Shanah tovah (assessable as good) umtuka (and experienced as sweet) for everyone!