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"I will dwell among the Israelites, and I will be a Gd for them. They will realize that I, Gd their Lrd, brought them out of Egypt to make My presence felt among them. I am Gd their Lrd." (Ex 29:45-46)
What a great deal. We get a live-in Gd. That's probably well worth the price of this b'rit we're entering into with Gd. Or so it would have seemed. Yet we've not done so well with our end of the b'rit (and some might question whether Gd has upheld Gd's end of the deal all that completely either--true, perhaps--but, as I'm fond of pointing out, "mir zeynen do"-we're still here.)
It's a pretty amazing privilege to have the Gd of all creation dwell amongst us. And how have we treated this live-in? Images of Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford and Buster Keaton singing "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" flow into my mind. (As Tom Lehrer used to say, the rest of you can look that up when you get home.) I fear at times that the answer to how we have treated our live-in Gd has been "as a servant" or a "maid" or a "plaything" when perhaps the answer should be "as an honored guest." We treat Gd as a great djinn--we rub the lamp and insist on our three wishes. And if we don't get them, we boot the djinn out of the house.
There are those among who believe that this live-in is a "stranger among us" and therefore to be feared. Yet, even if Gd is a stranger to us, should we not treat Gd with the hospitality due to any visitor, stranger, enemy, or friend, as exemplified by Avraham? Gd may be unknowable, but that doesn't mean Gd can't be treated as a proper guest--albeit it would be a bit harder to try and please an unknowable guest. Still, we are called upon to be hospitable. And so we should be.
Like any live-in, be it relative, friend, significant other, domestic help, nanny, there are certainly going to be times when we get on each others nerves. And when one of the people living in the house is the Creator of the Universe, there's bound to be tension, problems, and issues.
Sometimes, a little "private" or "alone" time helps. Giving people "their space." Yet how can one find either time or place to be apart from Gd? Would one want to? Should one? Is it truly possible?
As I've often said, being b'tzelem Elokim (in the image of Gd) works both ways. Characteristics that we have are just as likely to be characteristics that Gd has. So, like us, maybe Gd can have annoying habits, do troublesome things. But like the roommate you got stuck with in college, or your spouse, or some co-worker at the office, you have to find a way to work it out. I'll give you a hint I've found from my own experience.
It is true that sometimes, a little distance, a little separation, can help strengthen a relationship. Sometimes, however, the secret is not separation or time apart...sometimes clinging even harder to each other works out better. When you get "apart" time, you can forget and "get over" those petty annoyances. But do they ever really go away, or do they just lie dormant, awaiting some other issue to bring them rising to the surface in resentment, anger, jealousy?
When you cling even harder, those pesky annoyances are there all the time, staring you in the face-you can't get over them. You face them. You work through them. You get beyond them. That's a whole other way of looking at dveykut, the idea of clinging to Gd.
We have sometimes pushed Gd away--and at times, it seems Gd has pushed us away. We give each other the silent treatment. We ignore. But when do we get to the kiss and make-up stage?
Honored as we are to have Gd dwell amidst us, let us make Gd a welcome presence. As with any relationship, it will have its ups and downs, its times for togetherness and its time the separateness. The trick is knowing when each is appropriate.
I don't know about you, but I think I'm ready for another round of kiss and make up with Gd. We get the chance to do that every week on Shabbat. Let's take advantage of it. Sure, we'll probably get into more arguments and fights, but isn't it nice to know that a time for kissing and making up is built into the system? (Alright, you don't always have to kiss your roommate, but, when you fight with them, you should at least make up with them.)
Go on now...invite Gd back to be your houseguest. Then go and give Gd, your houseguest, your friend and neighbor, a great big hug and a smile. You might get one back, and won't that feel good?
© 2003 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some Previous Musings on the same parasha
Tetzaveh 5762 (Redux 5760)-The
Urim and Thummim Show
Tetzaveh 5761-Aharon's Bells
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