By the Grace of G-d

 

7 Heaven for seven

Heaven for Seven
By: Alice Jonsson
 

I find it strange that I was interested in Judaism for many years before I learned about the Seven Universal Commandments. I wish I could explain why so few people even today know that non-Jews do not need to convert to live by the Torah in a way that is appropriate for non-Jews. How could I have been surrounded by Jews my whole life, interested in Judaism, the history of the Jewish people, and religion in general yet never have come across this information? I can�t stand proselytizing, at the same time I wish it was common knowledge that non-Jews can live by the Seven Commandments and have a simple and powerful connection with God without any go-between and without any need to attend a house of worship. It is a very simple and beautiful thing. It�s a good deal too � you get Heaven for seven.

Yet it is sometimes amazing to me how such a simple act, such a simple commitment can yield such powerful results. It is hard to write about without sounding like someone who is trying to sell snake oil. But that is the beauty of this way of living- there is no snake oil or selling of any kind involved. There is no institution that you really need to become glued to. No one is selling you anything. It is about connecting with your Creator with total honesty and directness, emptying out your head and your heart in your own words, on your own. It is as if you build that relationship, which would have sounded strange to me until I experienced it myself, and it becomes something that is untouchable, ideally. As Rabbi Brody has put it, you are investing in something that no one can take from you. I really love that way of putting it.
 
 
It�s a good deal too � you get Heaven for seven...
 
Prior to becoming a religious person, I had heard other people describe their relationship with God and it seemed strange to me to apply the word �relationship�. It really seemed to me like they were a little insane, making something up for some reason, or willing something into being that was not really there. It made me uncomfortable to hear people talk about it, sort of like someone talking about how much their imaginary friend means to them, sort of like Harvey the rabbit. And now here I am talking about the same thing. Ha! I think the word �relationship� is weak. But describing how to relate to a Creator we can not see or hear strains the confines of the English language. We can never really begin to replicate the actual experience.
 
Despite how hard it is to describe, I feel optimistic that there are huge numbers of people in the world for whom living by the Seven Universal Commandments and cultivating their own direct, personal relationship with God would be an easy and powerful relief. I knew so many people growing up who attended church who were not so sure about the stories about a guy with a beard splitting loaves, but who did feel a connection to their Creator. I am not talking about wrenching a person�s beliefs from the hands, as if someone could do that. But I think there are so many people out there who already have a sense that there is something profound and huge beyond us out there. So many people already have a sense that everything somehow, someway happens for a reason. So many people already have experienced that meditating had helped them to tap into a force outside of them that takes away the stress and clears the mind. And so many people take a little time each day to feel some gratitude and even express some gratitude for the food on their plate. And so many people already feel how important it is that we have laws, even if we are not perfect, cops are not perfect, and judges are not perfect. So many people, really most people, have an almost innate sense that we need laws and boundaries and that they should be fairly applied, that this is crucial for us to be able to function without fear. I think so many people are really in many ways already Bnei Noach.
 
For reasons that I do not fully understand when I started living in accordance with the Seven Commandments, and really in my opinion, even more importantly started talking to a Creator that I can not see, but who answers using the world around me, I gained a settled and tranquil feeling unlike anything I had ever experienced. I did not become my old self I became someone I never was, in a way. It is as if the ground stopped shaking. I feel connected. It is easier to apologize to people. I feel more committed to doing better and better able to, well, do better. It is easier to connect with people. It is easier to navigate through life. It is much nicer to just sit and feel joyful and grateful. I do not know why, but it really does transform your life. 
 
So if you are person reading this who has had negative experiences with institutionalized religion, this could really be a great fit for you. If you are a person who thinks the idea of talking to the air and expecting some kind of reaction from the universe sounds wacky, I agree. It sounds nuts and sometimes even feels nuts when I am doing it � often actually. Yet the weird thing is, when you start to get a response, you will not care so much about how weird you feel taking that leap of faith. It does not cost you a single penny. It is a prescription that never expires and has no side effects. It is not even something you need to really discuss with people a great deal. It is a way to be religious and to get the phenomenal benefits that come with that way of being that is quiet, in many ways private, and yet can help you to feel the powerful flow that comes from tapping into the most powerful force in the universe.