I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...
The connection between trustworthiness and honesty would appear to be fairly simple. An individual who has regularly demonstrated honesty is usually trustworthy. However, this is not universally the case as I have seen brutally honest people say nasty things to people they love.
In his commentaries in both the Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur Koren Machzorim Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks of the God who “creates us in love and forgiveness, who loves and forgives, and asks us to love and forgive others.” Love is so often found side-by-side with forgiveness in discussions of God’s relationship with us.
Rabbi Yaakov said, one who is walking along the road and is studying [Torah], and then interrupts his studies and says, 'How beautiful is this tree! How beautiful is this plowed field!', the Scripture considers it as if he is liable for his life. -- M. Avot 3:9
This is a somewhat unusual mishna. After all, aren’t we supposed to say berachot over various features of nature? Were not both the Torah and nature given to us? The classical interpretation of this mishna is that we are being told that the most awesome work of God is the Torah itself. Unlike a regular tree of the field, the Torah is an eytz chayyim—a tree of life. It can be argued that this mishna is yet another expression of the sages’ view that Torah learning is the supreme act of Jewish devotion to God. However, I would further argue that there is another lesson being taught to us here as well.
To complete nearly any task necessitates a fair amount of awareness. To play a game one needs to be aware of its rules. To walk across the street unharmed one must be aware of the traffic conditions. These things also require focus. Yet it seems that the more one focuses on one particular thing, the less aware that same person can become concerning everything else.
The act of giving is a relatively simple thing. When you give you are simply transferring something that was once yours to someone else. It is entirely possible to give angrily, happily, begrudgingly, indifferently, or thoughtfully. Generosity, on the other hand is a different matter. Generosity has a component of mindfulness and “heartfulness” that goes beyond the physical act of giving.
Rabbi Joseph Karo begins his code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) with a statement concerning the way one should get up in the morning:
The first time I ever needed to type out an outline for a school project included what could be considered one of the biggest, “duh,” moments of my life.
For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all its ruins, and He will make its desert like a paradise and its wasteland like the garden of the Lord; joy and happiness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and a voice of song. -- Isaiah 51:3
One of God’s greatest gifts to humanity is free will. That gift produces the opportunity to be creative, thoughtful, decisive, curious, and more. With free will we are given the privilege to partner with God. Any partnership requires mutual trust for it to be positive. Our human partnership with God is no exception.
My maternal grandfather is often one of the least effusive people I know. He has a big white beard and it is rare that one can get a sense of what’s going on under there at any given moment. Affectionate would not be the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. At the same time I can safely say he is the kindest man it has ever been my privilege to know.