Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 11 June 2011 / 8 Sivan 5771

The G-d in Life

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman -
Become a Supporter Library Library

From: Howard

Dear Rabbi,

Can you help me feel more appreciative towards G-d? I want to feel G-d more directly in my life, but I’m having difficulty figuring out how.

Dear Howard,

Your question is on the one hand very complex and personal, but on the other hand so basic and universal. Since I can’t address it on the former, I’ll have to suffice with the latter.

We have absolutely so much to be thankful and appreciative to G-d about. Since you mention feeling G-d directly in your life, let’s talk about just that: Ways in which G-d imparts within you life and maintains it every moment.

This is in the spirit of Job who proclaimed, “In my flesh I behold G-d” (Job 19:26). This spiritual giant maintained a palpable awareness of G-d in his life by being constantly aware of the ways in which G-d was literally “in his life”.

We inhale and exhale about every 4 seconds. That’s 15 breaths a minute, 900 an hour, 21,600 a day. That means we breathe over 20,000 breaths a day, effortlessly, without even thinking about, even while we sleep. And it’s a good thing we breathe automatically; otherwise, with all we have to do, we’d probably forget. But G-d imparts within us the ability to breathe in the background so we can do everything we need. What a kind gift! And what’s more, air is amply abundant, and free for the taking. And despite the fact that what we exhale in “uninhalable”, G-d ingeniously recycles our CO2 waste for reuse. The problem is, this microcosmic and macrocosmic respiratory system is so sublime, and runs so smoothly and automatically, that we forget to credit G-d for it. But King David did not! He proclaimed, “Every soul (neshama) will praise G-d” (150:6), which our Sages explained to mean, “With every breath (neshima) we shall praise G-d” (B.R. 14).

What about our hearts? The heart simultaneously receives “old” blood from the body and “new” blood from the lungs, first into the right and left atria, which then contract and direct the blood into the respective ventricles. The ventricles then contract, pushing the blood through special one-way valves such that the “new” blood goes to the body and the old blood is sent to the lungs. In the meantime, new “old” and “new” blood has arrived to the atria from the body and lungs respectively and the cycle is repeated. This all takes place in less than 1 second. That’s more than 60 per minute, 3600 per hour and 86,400 per day! Again, if we had to think about making our heartbeat, we’d never keep up. Consider that there are people who pay their whole life savings for a properly functioning heart, and often this is only to prolong life for a relatively short time. Yet G-d gives us a perfectly functioning heart for free, which, if we care for it as we should, in the vast majority of cases will work wonderfully for an entire lifetime! Perhaps with this in mind we can more fully understand King David’s observation, “My heart is steady with G-d, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises” (57:8).

So in just a few paragraphs, I’ve noted over a 100,000 reasons to appreciate G-d’s direct presence in your life on a daily basis around the clock 24/7. And I’m just a layman of Science - imagine how the experts must feel!

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