Pinny Arnon

What If God is Not as Angry and Judgmental as They Told Us?

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Not one of us has been flawless throughout the past year. It is not difficult to admit that. We are human, and thus by definition imperfect. For many, Rosh Hashana and the “Days of Awe” are therefore a time of fear and worry. Will I be punished for my errors? Will God look on me with displeasure and render the year ahead difficult and unpleasant? Even the nonbelievers among us are subliminally haunted by the warnings from our childhood of a stern and exacting God who judges us at this time and signs us either in the book of life and sustenance or the book of death and suffering for the year ahead.

Yet there is another way to approach these holy days. The Chassidic Masters teach that God is a loving and nurturing parent. He has created us with a mission, and He wants nothing more than for us to succeed. It’s time to rethink the scary stories we were told as children. The truth of our existence, the mystics teach us, is far less frightening and far more inspiring.

You are an emissary that God sent into the darkness of this world with a purpose, that being to make it light. It stands to reason that He would want to provide you everything you need in order to perform that mission for Him. If you fail, then His work is not done. He does not want you to fail. He has invested in you. He has invested Himself in you. In fact, you are nothing more than an investment of Himself that is housed in physicality in order to do His work in this physical realm.

So here you are, a spark of Godliness clothed in materiality, charged with the task of revealing the Godliness that is within you and within everyone and everything around you. This is what He has sent you here to do. He knows how difficult that is. He knows you will stumble. He wants nothing more than for you to succeed. So what does He do when you fall? He picks you up. What does He do when you squander the resources that He has provided you? He gives you more. He gives you another chance, and then another. He wants you to do better – He knows you can do better, but it is not your fear of Him that will enable you to do so. It is your knowledge of His faith in you. It is your confidence in the infinite help that He is willing to provide you – this is what will inspire you to succeed.

There is a famous story about an employee at IBM who lost the company a million dollars. Afterwards, he was called in to meet the CEO. He entered the meeting, apologized for his unforgivable error, and handed the CEO his resignation letter. The CEO looked at the letter and then handed it back to him. Why would I accept your resignation, the CEO said, when I just invested a million dollars in your education?

Rosh Hashana is a time of stocktaking, soul-searching, and teshuva. Don’t be afraid, be endlessly grateful. We have not been perfect, it is important to admit that and to take responsibility for our errors. Yet we can do so not in shame or in fear of retribution, but rather in gratitude to the One who understands us, who forgives us, and who will give us everything we need to try again and again until we finally fulfill the holy task with which He has entrusted us.

– Derived from Pnei Hashem, an introduction to the deepest depths of the human experience based on the esoteric teachings of Torah.

About the Author
Pinny Arnon is an award-winning writer in the secular world who was introduced to the wellsprings of Torah as a young adult. After decades of study and frequent interaction with some of the most renowned Rabbis of the generation, Arnon has been encouraged to focus his clear and incisive writing style on the explication of the inner depths of Torah.
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