Selected Topics from: S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology
The Visible Kingdom (Universal):
- Creation as an expression of God's glory.
- Kingship as relationship between God and humankind.
- The Torah as the blueprint for creation.
- The rivalry between humans and angels:
- God prefers humans because they have the free will to choose God.
- The belief that the created world is fundamentally good.
- Sin causes God to distance himself from the world.
- After the early sinful generations, Abraham restored the relationship between God and humanity, brought God closer to our world.
Abraham and Sarah as prototype of missionaries, bringing knowledge of the one God to all of humanity (an old tradition not found in the Bible itself).
- Metaphor of Patriarchs as "Throne of God" -- the means by which God can dwell in the world.
- Israel's national mission to bring knowledge of God to the world.
- Major sins:
- Rebellion against God.
- Belief that the world operates "autonomously" (without divine help).
- I" And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and we will hear." --i.e., they agreed to obey the commandments of the Torah before they had actually heard them.
This attitude was considered very praiseworthy.
- The acceptance of god's Kingship precedes acceptance of the commandments.
- Biblical history as a continuing pattern of sin and repentance.
- Israel as a nation devoted to the ideal of God's kingship.
- The world persists for the sake of a small remnant of righteous individuals.
- God's kingdom is not in a spiritual state or a far-off future. It is to be implemented on this earth.
- The Kingship of God is not a political concept: Not a justification for theocratic government.
- This premise serves as a basis for the pursuit of ethical ideals.
- The universal scope of God's Kingship: Reflected in the Malkhuyyot prayers on the Jewish New Year, which describe how all the nations stand in judgment before God, and will one day acknowledge God's sovereignty.
Israel acts as a vanguard for the universal acceptance of God.
- The declaration of God's unity in the Shema' viewed as the epitome and culmination of this universal mission.