Adrian A. Durlester

Home About Adrian Designs Plays&Shpiels Random Musing Musings Archive Services for Hire Resume Links

Random Musings Archives

Random Musing Before Shabbat
Re'eh 5758
How To Tell Prophet from Profit

 It's back. My truly random musings before Shabbat. I have missed the opportunity to send these thoughts out to you all, and I am glad I can now resume. Here goes.

We read in Re'eh: (The translation is from the ORT "Navigating the Bible" site. It's not my favorite, but it was handy.)

Deut 13:2 [This is what you must do] when a prophet or a person who has visions in a dream arises among you. He may present you with a sign or miracle,

13:3 and on the basis of that sign or miracle, say to you, "Let us try out a different god. Let us serve it and have a new spiritual experience."

13:4 Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. God your Lord is testing you to see if you are truly able to love God your Lord with all your heart and all your soul.

13:5 Follow God your Lord, remain in awe of God, keep God's commandments, obey God and serve God, and you will then be able to have a true spiritual experience through God.

Lots to think about in these few sentences. Prophets and dreamers. Tests. Clinging to God.

Sarcastic Adrian says: Wow. There it is plainly stated. God tests us. What a relief to know that. It explains so much. We go through all this crap just so God knows that we love God with all our heart and soul? What a load of cowchips. Like we need God to test us more than life itself already does. Gee, that's helpful. If God is omniscient, why the need to test anything?

Spiritual Adrian says: Yes-it says it. God test us. And I am thankful that it is so. It's far too easy to feign love for God. We can be really supplicant when we want something from God. But when our needs are met, how often do we remember to thank the source? We are far too eager to blame God when things go wrong and far less likely to thank God when "things are going along just fine, Thank You." In response to myself asking why an omniscient God would need to test anything, I would ask "who do you think the test is really for? God? Or you?" When we are tested, I would hope we derive something useful to us in the process. (I could go off here into a whole tangent about current testing practices in academia, and the whole concept of "standardized test" and how they have lost track of the real reason we test ourselves or are tested by others.)

But, as Tom Lehrer would often say, I digress. What about this prophesizing (profiting for some, perhaps) and dreaming stuff?

Cautionary Adrian says: Hmmmm. Have I allowed myself to be led astray by a prophet? Are we too quick to embrace this modern computer and medical technology and all it represents. Is it becoming like a god to us?

Computer Maven Adrian says: Yes, there may be some among us who really are suggesting we allow ourselves to be led by another god. But perhaps this is yet another test? Can we harness and use the technology and still cling to God? I, and many others working with the technology in service to God would surely say "yes." Are we being misled?

"Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer" we are told. Perhaps that is part of the key. We must listen carefully to what the prophet is saying. If they are suggesting that the new technologies are a path to a different god, then we must not listen. If they are saying "this new technology is perhaps yet another way to love God, follow God's commandments, and fulfill our mission to be an "or l'goyim" then perhaps we needn't be afraid of following their visions?

What about those who are seeking ways to combine spiritual paths? Do these eastern religions represent "another god." Or is the "we all really worship the same God" philosophy in effect? What about Messianic Judaism? Christianity?

Others may not be content with what they can find inside Judaism. I do not condemn them for seeking other paths. But for myself, I can truly say "turn it and turn it for everything is in it." This faith gives me the fortitude to ignore the siren calls of modern prophets and dreamers that abound so in our world.

OK God. You can stop testing me now. I think I passed this one. Right? What? Hey wait, you can't change the rules in the middle of...oh, yes, actually, YOU can.

{My original ending was:

[deafening silence]

but I decided that this could be misinterpreted as signifying a non-interactive God - one who simply created and then stood back. It's not a philosophy I subscribe to. I'm not sure I like the new ending either, so my challenge to you this Shabbat: write your own final thought for my thoughts. There's a prize for each of you - in the effort.} ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----

It has been a whirlwind summer. Working at the OSRUI camp was an experience. Sort of like 9 weeks of sleep deprivation. Silly me, in my naivete, actually hoping to have quiet, peaceful non-working Shabbats. The demands on the staff and the work I did was overwhelming - but the experience of working with the campers made it all worthwhile. And winding it all up with CAJE 22 was really special. Though I spent most of the conference being busy rather than attending sessions, I derived great pleasure from my service to CAJE and Jewish education. And that closing night Kumsitz. Wow.(and thank you, Carol.) I only hope we who are planning CAJE 23 can do as well.

A final note: some of you may have noticed that I am now spelling out fully the word God. I used to use the G-d abbreviation, not, primarily due to my own beliefs, but in respect for others who might be offended by the practice. However, I had a series of interesting philosophical discussions on this very subject this summer from people of all types of Judaic religious backgrounds. Without going into tremendous detail, I have reconsidered my practice. It is my hope that no one takes offense from the very personal decision.

Well, Random Musings has certainly started off randomly. Perhaps by next week I'll have collected my thoughts a little more. But then again, perhaps not. The beauty is - I never plan for this. It is truly spontaneous and written as I think it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

I wish you and yours a peaceful, restful, yet thought-provoking Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,


©1997, 1998 by Adrian A. Durlester


Some Other Musings on the Same Parasha

Re'eh 5760/5763--B'lo l'sav'a
Re'eh 5759/5765--Open Your Hand

Home About Adrian Designs Plays&Shpiels Random Musing Musings Archive Services for Hire Resume Links

Email Me A Comment!