Christians generally believe that we are justified only by faith -- saved by what we believe. Judaism believes that we are justified by our works -- saved by what we do. I think both beliefs are right and wrong. Faith leads us more directly to forgiveness, and works lead us more directly to goodness. Both, I think, are essential for a completed spiritually life.
Q: "Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of my existence?" -- B., Appleton, Wis.
A: "Dear B., that's more than one question! The answer to all three queries is that I made you to love as I have loved you. Everything else is not really that important."
Q: "How can I forgive? It's so darned hard to forgive as You ask us to." -- C., Kings Park, NY
A: "Yes, indeed, C., it is hard to forgive. That's why it's better to limit the things you do that require forgiveness. This may help you: Try to think of every sin you commit against others to be a major sin, and every sin committed against you to be a minor sin. I think you'll find this to be a good, though darned hard, bit of wisdom."
Q: "Where were you, God, when 6 million Jews were being slaughtered under Hitler's orders, as well as other people"? -- L., North Babylon, NY
A: "I was with the victims. A better question is, 'Where was man?'"
Q: "God, why do you allow all those awful people to sexually and physically abuse innocent children?" -- M., Plainview, NY
A: "My most controversial choice here in heaven was to grant human beings free will to choose good or evil. I did it because you can't truly love each other or me unless you have free will. However, being free to choose love also means you're free to choose hate. I wish freedom worked differently, but that's the way it is. Some days I think I made the wrong choice."
Q: "God, will I recognize and be reunited in any form with my loved ones who've died before me?" -- Anonymous, via cyberspace
Q: "God, if you really exist and are the ultimate creator, then where did you come from and who created you?" -- M., via cyberspace
A: "I made everything. Nobody made me. Check out Aristotle. He called me The Unmoved Mover. Aristotle was a very smart guy."
Q: "God, why must there be conflict between different religions?" -- J., via cyberspace
A: "Because everything can be twisted and perverted. When you have the pleasure of understanding Me, nothing can go wrong."
Q: "God, why is there eternal punishment in hell?" -- P., via cyberspace
A: "Because evil is not always punished on earth and goodness is not always rewarded. I needed to set things right eventually."