In a NY Times article published Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Bloomberg spoke about spending $50 million to go after the NRA. That wasn’t the shocking part of the piece, in the last paragraph the former Mayor bragged that he was guaranteed to go into heaven providing, of course that there was a God.
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
It is not my place to say what will happen when Bloomberg (who was born Jewish) meets his maker, however in Jewish tradition it is not his place either. Additionally if Bloomberg remembers anything from his heritage, belief in God as opposed to the agnosticism he displayed is a central tenet of the religion.
Beyond his statements many of the Bloomberg policies he brags about seem to conflict with Jewish tradition. Programs such as the smoking cessation, the big soda ban, the trans fat, salt and hiding the baby formula edicts set by the Mayor were attempts to take away NYC resident’s free will, and to substitute government for God in their lives.
The creation narrative in Genesis explains that man is created in God’s image. But we also taught that our maker has no bodily form, so how can that be? The Bible is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for ”big guy upstairs,” if that was the case the pictures on everyone’s drivers licenses would look alike and no one would be able to get a check cashed and CSI would be a very boring TV show.
“Created in God’s image” is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being, without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. God does good deeds as a matter of his own free choice, and because we are created in his image so can man. Only through free choice, can man truly be, in the image of God. Bloomberg tried to take that away.
It is further understood that for Man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will, but an environment in which a choice between obedience and disobedience exists. God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely; this is what the Rabbis mean when they said, “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to pick between the correct or incorrect option.
As explained by the Rabbis, free will is the divine version of limited government. God picks the winning direction, but does not force people to go in that direction. But when they do follow the correct direction man is able to become closer to their maker.
According to the faith he grew up in, God is a creator who instilled in us a personal responsibility to do the right thing, but he also provided us with the choice to accept that responsibility or not. There is no room in Jewish law for a government that forces us to do (their interpretation) of the right thing. During his 12 years as Mayor, Mike Bloomberg tried to force his interpretation of right and wrong on New Yorkers. He just might have to explain that, before he heads straight in because he is so sure he earned his place in heaven.