"Adnai ish milchama, Adnai sh'mo"
"Adnai is a warrior, Adnai his name." (Shemot 15:3)
Gd is a man of war? Not exactly the way we like to think of Gd. The image of a Gd of peace seems so much more pleasant. But that is not the reality. Reality is an ugly business, and Gd is not above getting tarnished by the horrors.
Being able to attribute great military victories to Gd is convenient. Jael had to sleep every night with visions of that tent peg she drove into Sisera's skull. How much better for her to attribute it all to Gd. Then she is blameless.
You think "How awful. That Gd is so violent and cruel, using us as agents to kill." But try it another way. Conflict seems to be part of human nature. Given that, we might all be living with constant guilt trips. That's not all too farfetched, either. In our modern liberal-thinking society, we are willing, sometimes even eager, to take on the angst of the misdeeds of our people, of our ancestors. But we don't have to. Gd, once again proving infinitely wise, allows us to purge ourselves of our guilt when our violent nature gets the better of us.
Now, in the case of the incident at Yam Suf, the action and the killing were all clearly done by Gd. However, when Joshua battled Amalek, it was humans spilling human blood. No doubt of that. In with the war between Barak and Sisera, Jabin's general, again it was humans spilling human blood.
There is always a price for victory-a price paid hardest by the vanquished. The Egyptians paid the price quite dearly, and so did Jabin's soldiers, and especially his general Sisera. A tent peg through the head? Oy! This is something celebrate in song? Gd parting the sea, perhaps, is worthy of a song. But do we have to dirty up the song by also mentioning that "horse and rider were hurled into the sea" ?
Yes-these reminders of the cruelty of life, of war, or serving Gd's agenda, are necessary. We cannot purge ourselves of our discomfort lest we speak of it. And purge it we can, because Gd accepts all the blame for what happened.
"Thank Gd we have Gd to blame for all those dead Egyptians. Thank Gd we have Gd to blame for all those dead Canaanite soldiers. Thank Gd." Thank Gd, not for the victory, but for the ability to deal with the feelings that come from seeing all that death and destruction-by passing the blame back to Gd. I think without this, we would have died out as a species from the weight of our own sorrows.
So the next time you feel compelled to reject the "it was all part of Gd's plan" theory, just remember the great healing power that exists in it. Dish it out, dump it on Gd. Gd can take it. We can't.
One could argue that we'll never improve as a species as long as we can blame our violent tendencies on Gd. I disagree. There is great hope for improvement. But without the safety valve of pinning the blame on Gd, we might never have the ability to keep trying. We would have long ago drowned in our own despair.
The Xtians didn't get it. Gd did not need to appear in human form and absolve us of all our defects. We can dump it all on Gd without the intermediary. But with the guilt permanently dumped on this dead Jewish rabbi, what motivation is there for us to ever improve?
The ability to offload our guilt with the horrors of life onto Gd is essential. Just as essential, however, is our desire to have less of it to offload, by striving to follow the rules that Gd gave us.
Shabbat Shalom to you and yours.
© 2001 by Adrian A. Durlester
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