Ten Paths to God
Welcome to ‘Ten Paths to God’, a 10-unit curriculum on Judaism and Jewish identity based on traditional sources and the teachings of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. This curriculum has been developed as a resource that can be freely adapted and used by anyone involved in formal or informal Jewish education – in middle or high schools, for youth movements, on campuses, or as part of outreach organisations, synagogues and community centres. It can also be a resource for parents to learn one-on-one with their children if they wish, or even for individuals who just want to think deeper about Judaism.
The ‘Ten Paths to God’ curriculum project has been generously sponsored in honour of Chaim (Harry) and Anna Schimmel.
What is the ‘Ten Paths to God’ curriculum project? Why is it so important today?
Welcome to ‘Ten Paths to God’, a 10-unit curriculum on Judaism and Jewish identity based on traditional sources and the teachings of Rabbi Sacks. This is a free resource for anyone involved in formal or informal Jewish education and can also be used as a resource by parents with their children, and by individuals who wish to delve more deeply into understanding Judaism.
In this first unit, through the texts that Rabbi Sacks has selected as well as some excerpts from his own writings, we will explore the path to God through our personal Jewish identity and national Jewish destiny. Through a sense that we are part of a special people with a special vocation and calling, we can connect to and develop further our relationship with God.
In this second unit we will explore the path to God through prayer, arguably the principal connection to God in Judaism. We will look at some of the classic themes of Jewish prayer using texts that Rabbi Sacks has selected, and develop an understanding of these themes through his writings.
In this third unit, we will explore the path to God through Torah study. We will look at some of the classic approaches to the mitzvah of Torah study using texts that Rabbi Sacks has selected, and develop an understanding of these themes through his writings.
In this fourth unit the path to God through mitzvot will be explored. Mitzvot in the thought of Rabbi Sacks represent “miniature acts of redemption”, elevating the secular to holiness, bringing God into our world, becoming His partner in creation, ultimately leading to a universal redemption of the world. Judaism is a religion of action rather than merely contemplation and thought, and we live this truth through our mitzvot.
In this fifth unit the mitzvah of tzedakah will be explored. For Rabbi Sacks, tzedakah is based on 4 core concepts: Judaism’s approach to the ethics of material wealth, responsibility as a value and calling for every Jew, tzedakah as a vehicle for spiritual and moral growth, and finally the value that is at the very core of the concept of tzedakah in Jewish thought and practice, the dignity of the human being.
In this sixth unit the mitzvah of chessed will be explored in the thought of Rabbi Sacks. While tzedakah is giving with our material resources, chessed is giving of ourselves, with our time and with our hearts. For Rabbi Sacks, chessed is a critical element of the covenantal bond that he believes is at the very core of Judaism’s vision for society.
In this seventh unit we will explore the path to God through Faith and our relationship with God. These are such challenging areas for Jewish educators that all too often they are avoided altogether. It is our hope that the direction taken here will allow educators and students together to explore in a spirit of honesty and openness the critical questions of belief, faith, and approach to a relationship to God, in an open, appropriate, and constructive way.
In this eighth unit we will explore the role of the Land of Israel in Rabbi Sacks’ thought and philosophy of Judaism. Rabbi Sacks passionately advocated for the modern State of Israel. Israel also plays a prominent theological role in his writings. For Rabbi Sacks, the Jewish people living in security in their homeland, building a society based on the core values of Judaism, is critical to the fulfilment of Jewish destiny and the national Jewish mission.
It can be argued that this ninth unit is the most critical in understanding the thought of Rabbi Sacks, as it explores his concept of Kiddush Hashem, the Jewish national mission and the most central and critical idea in his philosophy of Judaism.
Building on the central concept of the Jewish national mission that was explored in the previous unit, this tenth unit presents Rabbi Sacks approach to Responsibility. For Rabbi Sacks the definition of a Jew is one who sees the problems in the world and seeks to fix them. Judaism is God’s call to responsibility, and to be a Jew is to accept responsibility.
This concluding unit serves as a way to review and connect the full Ten Paths to God series, giving the students a complete picture of Rabbi Sacks’ approach to this important subject. Rabbi Sacks explores the reasons why he is proud to call himself a Jew, and what that means to him, referencing each of the Ten Paths both directly and indirectly. The video gives us, effectively, a concise summary of Rabbi Sacks’ philosophy of Judaism.