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Fours years ago, I last offered this combination of my musings for Hol HaMoed Pesach from 5757 and 5759. I once again offer to my readers this combined musing, believing it still says best what I am moved to say about the Torah and Haftarah readings for Shabbat Hol HaMoed Pesach.
At times it seems to me that we, the descendants of the people Israel are becoming a valley of dry bones. We turn from Gd to pursue our own delights. We think we are building a paradise, but this is just an illusion. The paradise we think we are making is draining us of our sustenance such that soon we may be nothing but dry bones ourselves, our works and lives long forgotten, our hopes lost, and we feel cut off from Gd.
Ezekiel wants us to be hopeful. Through him Gd says that our bones will be restored to life, returned to our own soil, and then we shall know that Gd our Gd.
So what-we sit back and wait for Gd to restore us from our desiccated conditions? Surely our Gd is a patient and tolerant one. And, as we are reminded just prior to this passage from Ezekiel, it is not for our sakes that Gd is acting to redeem us, but for Gd's own sake, despite our unfaithfulness. Wow! That is one generous and merciful Gd. So we should repay this by continuing in our sinful ways and just hanging around until Gd is ready to cleanse us and renew our spirits?
Nope. I don't buy it. While even bones as dry as ours can become fertile ground for Gd's redemptive power and compassion, why make Gd's job any harder than it has to be? Why not get a head start, and try and put a little sinew and flesh back onto our own dry bones. One view of creation holds that Gd is continually holding back the chaos that is outside the firmament. When we garner Gd's attention by being unfaithful and acting sinfully, we distract Gd from this important task, and chaos could leak in to our world. (Was the flood Gd deliberately letting some of the forces of chaos loose on the world, or had humans become so sinful Gd simply couldn't hold it all back?) I don't know about you, but I think enough chaos has already slipped into our world and it's time to give Gd a hand holding it back.
I, for one, vote for returning to Gd, to walking in Gd's ways, before we become a valley of dried up bones requiring Gd's awesome restorative power. And before more chaos leaks in and our bones are scattered and no longer able to be brought back to life. (Remember Jeremiah's imagery from last week?)
And how do we do that? One answer is in the Chol Hamoed Pesach musing I have used the previous two years. Read on.
In the readings for Chol Hamoed Pesach (Exodus 33:12-34:26, Numbers 28:19-25), Moses says to Gd:
33:15 [Moses] said, "If Your presence does not accompany [us], do not make us leave this place. 33:16 Unless You accompany us, how can it be known that I and Your people are pleasing to You? [But if You do,] I and your people will be distinguished from every nation on the face of the earth."
For Moses' sake, Gd agrees to fulfill this request by Moses. Gd accompanied the people of Israel. Gd says that this was done because of the relationship that existed between Gd and Moses. (Ex 33:17)
A promise is a promise, and we all know (or would really like to believe) that Gd keeps promises. So why is it that it seems as if Gd is no longer accompanying the children of Israel all the time? Has Gd abandoned us, or have WE left Gd sitting by the side of the road wondering where we are? Are we no longer capable or worthy of the kind of relationship that Moses once had with Gd (and that we as a people also had with Gd?) What has gone awry?
The simple answer, and the one that I favor, is that Gd is still accompanying us, it's our mutual ability to connect that's been somehow disturbed. (A "great disturbance in the "force," perhaps?) I think Gd is having as difficult a time trying to communicate with us and understand us as we are having trying to communicate with and understand Gd. All part of Gd's learning curve, perhaps.)
Pesach is a time for working to restore the communication between us and Gd. If we allow ourselves to really feel as if we ourselves were freed from Mitzrayim, as we observe the Seder ritual, or if we read about and study the Thirteen Attributes, we put ourselves in a state of mind in which, perhaps, connections between us and Gd are easier. There is so much noise and confusion in the world today. It's like sunspot interference with radio signals. No wonder we have trouble communicating. At Pesach (and, hopefully, throughout the year,) we can spiritually travel back to a time when the airwaves between Gd and the people of Israel were clearer. If we can learn this state of mind as a habit, then communicating with Gd should become easier, and we can more easily discover that neither we nor Gd has left each other behind. We still accompany one another. Now perhaps though, we can do something many of us have not done for a long time (or perhaps have never done) - take Gd's hand as we walk together.
Have a nice walk.
Back to 5764
Our bones are not yet so dried up that we can't pick our bones up walk with Gd. Rise up, O Bones of Israel, and Walk. Walk with your Gd. Humbly, and with an open mind and open heart. And surely Gd will help us restore our spirit, as we show each other that neither has truly left the other behind.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
©1997, 1998, 1999, 2004
Some previous musings on this parasha
Hol Hamoed Pesach 5763-No Empty Gestures (Redux 5762)
5761-Pesach VII Redundant Anamnesis
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