Adrian A. Durlester

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Random Musing Before Shabbat
Nitzavim/Vayeilekh 5766

Keep Looking

I'm not happy with G"d. Particularly the one we're encountering in the double-parasha.

I've shared before in these musings my theory about G"d's learning curve. It's evident through much of the Torah. Over time, G"d seems to get a better handle on how to be a good parent to us, the fruits of creation. G"d tries one thing, and it doesn't work so well, so G"d learns and tries a different tactic.

And now, here we are, almost at the end of the Torah, and what is G"d saying to us? That when we fail to follow G"d's ways, G"d will be angry with us. And in that anger, G"d will turn away from us. This is good parenting?

Deut 31: 16ff: "The L"rd said to Moses: You are soon to lie with your fathers. This people will thereupon go astray after the alien gods in their midst, in the land they are about to enter; they will forsake Me and break My covenant, which I made with them. Then My anger will flare up against them, and I will abandon them and hide my countenance from them. They shall be ready prey; many evils and troubles will befall them. And they shall say on that day, "surely it is because our G"d is not in our midst that these evils; have befallen us." Yet I will keep My countenance hidden on that day, because of all the evil they have done in turning to other G"ds."

This isn't tough love. This is beyond that. It is beyond the pale. We suffer for our own shortcomings - shortcomings inherent in a system of G"d's creation in which we have free will. And when we are in the depth of our suffering, when we have, so to say, bottomed out, instead of G"d being there to help us up, G"d turns away from us, so that we might suffer more for our failings. And not just turn away, but actively hide from us. That's downright rude.

I don't like that one bit. Oh sure, we can spin it in all sorts of positive ways. We might continue the 12-step/tough love analogy and say that what we think is our bottoming out isn't anywhere even close. G"d knows that we have to sink even lower before we will be motivated to change. I don't buy it. It doesn't make sense. G"d is angry with us for turning to other G"d's, and the solution is to hide from us? Where's the mercy, the compassion? This whole double-parasha is so full of all these hints about t'shuva and G"d's compassion, mercy and abundant love. But not here.

But it's all part of G"d's plan, right? Yes, the text would seem to say. It is because this will happen that you must insure that you and your children will take the words of this Torah and put it in your hearts and souls.

OK, I'll go with that. If we will keep the Torah in our hearts, then redemption remains possible. Yet G"d says the words of this Torah will be witnesses against us - G"d's justification for the evils that have befallen us, for hiding from us.

So which is it? Is this Torah our salvation, or is the Torah evidence used to damn us? The answer, I suspect, is both. And therein lies the catch. You and I can't get out of this covenant, because we, too, were at Sinai. It was made with us as well as those who were present.

And yet we doubt. Will the covenant be kept by G"d if we all really do follow G"d's Torah? Or will G"d find yet another excuse, another justification for hiding from us?

The High Holy Days will soon be here. How are we to find our way back to G"d if G"d remains hidden from us? Seems to be an unfair situation.

Yet we will attempt t'shuvah. Perhaps we haven't yet reached the critical mass of t'shuvah that will reveal G"d to us. We must keep trying. If we stop trying, perhaps G"d will remain hidden from us forever. Is this what Torah is teaching us? To be perseverant? To not expect G"d to be a sucker for a couple of half-hearted "al khets" ?

Imagine one scenario:

The nations said to the Jews: "where is your G"d?" And they answered "We do not know. Are we our G"d's keeper?" And they said "The blood of your G"d cries out to us from the ground...."

Then imagine another:

The people called out "Ad"nai, Ad"nai." And G"d answered, "Hineni"...

Shabbat Shalom,


©2006 by Adrian A. Durlester



Some other musings on the same parasha:

Vayelekh 5766-The Time Is Still Now
Nitzavim 5765-To Lo Or Not To Lo

Nitzavim/Vayelekh 5763-Connect the Dots
Nitzavim 5757/5759/5764-Lo Bashamayim Hi
Nitzavim 5758-Not By Ourselves
Nitzavim/Vayelekh 5760-
L'eyd B'vnei Yisrael-The Real Denouement
Nitzavim 5761 was the week of Sept. 11, 2001. There was no Musing.

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