In the haftarah for parashat Vayeishev, from the first few chapters of Amos, I encountered a singularly thought-provoking piece of text. It occurs at the beginning of chapter three, near the end of the haftarah.
Chapter three starts out with a pronouncement - one well known -
3:2 You alone have I known from all the families of the earth, therefore I will call you to account for all your iniquities.
That's not the text I want to discuss. This piece of text has given us enough trouble. It's bad enough to have to deal with the rock and mud-slinging that comes from being a chosen people, but then to have G"d single us out to be called to account for our failings. Oy. What a burden. Not so easy to be a Jew, as we all know.
Following this pronouncement is what can probably best be described as a series of "affirming duh" statement, sort of the prophetic equivalent of "is the Pope Catholic?", "does a fish have a watertight anus?", "does a bear poop in the woods?" etc.
It's the first of these statements, verse 3:3, that caught my fancy.
3:3 Can two walk together, without having met?
It may seem like an unnecessary question with an obvious answer. Yet, is it? It all sort of depends on how you define "meet."
In our increasingly self-absorbed society, now exacerbated through the proliferation of iPods, cell phones, PDAs, etc. it seems perfectly possible to walk together without meeting. Thousands, perhaps millions, do it every day - on sidewalks, buses, subways, airplanes, etc. Not to mention people playing in virtual realities and simulations.
Now let's take it into another setting. Thousands, if not millions, sitting in synagogues, churches, mosques, temples, etc. They are there, ostensibly, to encounter G"d. Yet I've little doubt that, for many, they and G"d might be walking side by side and yet never meeting.
Through the prophet Amos, G"d tries to tell us that we can't really walk with G"d and not meet G"d; still this seems the reality for so many. Why is this so? Is it perhaps because we enclose ourselves in those same little walls, boxes, boundaries that we use on the subway, the bus, the elevators, standing in line, etc.? How else could we wind up not meeting the ones we are walking together with; or the One we are walking together with?
Is it possible one could walk together with the One and not truly meet each other? To make it work, we (and that includes humans and G"d) must be open to the encounter; must be walking unencumbered by distractions, so that one is noticing only their walking partner and the beautiful scenery which surrounds them,
This Shabbat, take a walk together with someone. Truly together, truly "meeting." Try it and see how it feels. Then, perhaps, you might be willing to try the same "one on One."
They say "walk with G"d." Better yet, meet the G"d of your understanding while walking together with the G"d of your understanding. Who knows-your understanding just might change. Who's up for a walk together?
©2007 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some other musings on this parasha:
Vayeishev/Hanukah 5767-I Believe in
Vayeishev 5766-Who Was That Guy?
Vayeshev 5765-Mikol HaMishpakhot HaAdamah
Vayeshev 5758-What's Worth Looking After
Vayeshev 5761 - In Gd's Time
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