By special request, and also somewhat in the spirit of Adar and Purim, a redux and updated musing originally from 5760.
Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner. Tennessee and Chumley. Rocky and Bullwinkle. Beavis and Butthead. Cow and Chicken. And now Cartoon Network proudly presents the latest new hit cartoon series [fanfare and drum roll}:
[to the theme song from "Alvin & The Chipmunks"]
This is the Urim show, the Thummim show
The positive recording that you ought to know
Let's roll the dice, let's take the bait
Seems G"d won't answer ev'ry little question straight
And now you see, on camera three,
The priestly cult G"d culled from Aaron's family tree
And here's the stars of our show.... Urim..... Thumim....
[musical pause-while Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, and Leonardi Da Vinci walk across the shot]
[another musical pause-while Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, and Leonardi Da Vinci walk across the shot]
Get ready here we go The Urim and the Thummim Show!!
Yes, boys and girls! It's the Urim and Thummim show! Starring those two wacky, lovable, and totally unpredictable predictors, those irregular oracles, those indecisive deciders, a couple a regular 'old rocks....Urim & Thummim. Also starring Aaron as High Priest. With Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. With Moshe Rabbenu as Aaron's wacky, obsessed brother who talks with you-know-who. Special guest appearance by you-know-who him/herself.
Sound bizarre? Out of place? Inappropriate? Well, that's exactly how I feel whenever I am reading along in Parashat Tetzaveh and I get to Sh'mot 28:30. That G"d should take all this trouble to describe the priestly vestments is a little anal perhaps, but understandable. That G"d is particular about how G"d's priests are ordained, or the rituals performed, or the decor and arrangement of the tabernacle in which Gd is to dwell when G"d is with the people is not surprising. Here is a G"d that knows what he/she wants. A G"d who thinks ahead enough to play a game of heart-hardening with Pharaoh (...hmmm, aong springs to mind: "They call him hard-hearted Pharoah...." but we'll save that for another time) to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, who promises and delivers to the Israelites, to Abraham and his descendants (even remembering his/her promise to Hagar!) A G"d who sends dreams to people so that they may know the future. A G"d who allows evil to happen so that the good G"d knows will come of it does indeed come. A G"d who works miracles, created the universe, destroyed all life on earth except for one lucky family, parted the Reed Sea, brought forth water form rocks and manna from heaven. A G"d who imparts at Sinai the entirety of Torah, written and Oral, to the Israelites at Sinai.
And this G"d, in our holy Torah, says to put these "decision-making" stones or other devices (dice?) into the ephod and have Aaron wear them over his heart. Of what need is divining to the Israelites? Are we to believe that the G"d that has done all this for Israel will now resort to the ancient equivalent of the modern day "8-ball" toy to communicate with the people?
Nu, only Moshe was good enough to talk to directly, and since he won't be around forever, you'll simply guide the high priest's hand to remove the black or white stone as appropriate (this is one theory of what the Urim and Thummim were.) This is how a G"d who carves commandments in stone now wishes to communicate with us?
And they say G"d doesn't play dice with the world? Ha! Take that, Albert (if you indeed said that and it's not simply apocryphal...)
Or is this the clever G"d, the learning and patient G"d, who understands that these chosen amongst all the nations are still given to superstition, unbelief and doubt, idol worship, divination and need their G"d to utilize the trappings of their current cultural and social context? They have spent centuries amongst another people known for the obsessive use of magic, oracles, divination, etc. It's unwise to expect instant adaptation to a whole new world view. (OK, Albert, maybe you were on to something there...)
Or is it something else? Is this G"d's way of saying "I really don't know everything-sometimes you'll just have to ask the Urim and Thummim for the answer" or perhaps "sometimes I'm just to busy to answer every little question"? As we all know, the real challenge to asking G"d for an answer to a question is that sometimes that answer is "no," or "I don't know," or even "mind your own business." Given that, why not just roll a pair of dice or ask the magic 8-ball? Because sometimes G"d really does answer the question...
©2000, 2002, 2007 by Adrian A. Durlester
Tetzaveh 5766-Silent Yet
Tetzaveh 5765 and 5761-Aharon's Bells
Tetzaveh 5764-Shut Up and Listen!
Tetzaveh 5763-House Guest
Tetzaveh 5762 (Redux 5760)-The Urim and Thummim Show
Tetzaveh 5758-Something Doesn't Smell Quite Right
Email Me A Comment!