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Basics of Judaism

G-d and Torah

Fear of G-d

Question: Is fear the only way to bring G-d into our lives? If becoming humble leads to understanding that all is by the grace of G-d wouldn’t fear of committing a sin take us in the other direction (away from G-d)? Do we really fear G-d or do we fear ourselves? At that point is there a difference?

Answer: Thanks for asking this great question. Fear of G-d is one of the principle concepts in Judaism. You are right, however, that this concepts needs to be studied and correctly understood or many misconceptions can form. The concept of fear of G-d is something that comes as a person develops his or her personal connection with the concept of being subservient to a Higher Power. One of the reasons why a person wears a kippa (skull cap worn by Jewish males)  is to help him constantly bear in mind that there is Something “above” him. The rabbis tell us that everything is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven. Having the fear of heaven takes time and persistence in order to truly understand through learning.

One of the ten commandments is to honor parents. Our rabbis tell us that there needs to be two components to a healthy parent child relationship – love and fear.

That is why that command is in the middle between laws of man to man and laws of man to G-d. This parent child relationship teaches us how to relate to Our Creator as well. Fear of G-d means that we understand that G-d runs the world and therefore all of my actions are judged based on who I am and what my potential is.

If you are interested in further studying this concept I suggest a book entitled, “The Ways of G-d,” by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato. This book will really give you a great perspective on this and many other Jewish concepts.

Be Well,
Rabbi Litt

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