“The Rock, your bearer, you neglected; you forgot the God who gave you birth” Deuteronomy 32:18
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It’s all too easy to forget God when life is going well. Our rich, comfortable, materialistic society allows us little time for a deep connection with God. If the well-known saying that “there are no atheists in the foxholes” is true, then the opposite is just as accurate. It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature that those of us who have never known serious hardship often permit a benignly neglectful relationship with the Divine.
The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the Ten Days of Repentance, are a useful antidote to this lack of connection. As Maimonides remarks, the call of the shofar should act as an alarm clock to awake us from the vanities of time and the sense that we need no support from our Creator. This is the time to repair and renew that most important relationship.
What might a healthy, meaningful relationship with God look like? Many have described the relationship as one of servant to king, one where God demands and humans respond unequivocally. There is no doubt that Jewish sources are replete with this imagery. However, I believe that this metaphor is less useful than it once was. Rather our age finds the description of a relationship based on the faith that God loves and cares for each of us and no aspect of our lives, big or small, is insignificant in His eyes, to be more appropriate.
In this regard, it is useful to view God as a caring parent or supportive friend. This does not minimise the obligations that we have towards Him, but it does change the way we relate to Him.
This change in perspective allows us to maintain a healthy, regular connection with God that has the potential to enrich our lives immeasurably. It’s well worth remembering, therefore, that God is for life and not just for Yom Kippur.