(Courtesy: Rabbi Barry H. Block)

Perhaps greater wisdom is found in the words of our liturgy, calling upon us to “pray as if everything depended upon God, but act as if everything depended upon ourselves.” This exhortation is in keeping with a wonderful story told of our sage, Rabbi Levi of Berdichev. Rabbi Levi taught that everything in God’s creation has good in it.

A student challenged the Rabbi, asking him what could be good about atheism. Rabbi Levi responded: “The atheist can’t look at a poor person and say, ‘God will help you.’” The atheist knows that we must provide for our fellow human beings in time of need. We who believe in God, on the other hand, pray that God will bring an end to all forms of want and deprivation.

We are tempted to let God feed the hungry or clothe the naked. And yet, we must act as if God has absolutely no power in this realm, giving freely of our own resources and time to alleviate poverty and inequality, illness and loneliness.

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