I have a chip on my shoulder. And because of that, I'm pretty tough on G"d a lot of the time. I tend to not cut G"d much slack.It's largely a result of my "reversed image" theory--that if we are in G"d's image, a reflection of G"d as it were, then surely all our qualities are to be found in G"d as well. Anthropomorphism is not the point here. It's not about G"d have arms and legs, or being an old man with a long, flowing white beard. It's a recognition that our best and worst characteristics can be found in G"d. G"d does get jealous, can be capricious, whimsical, dastardly, vengeful, foolish...well, you get the point.
So given my predisposition to be hard on G"d, it's not at all surprising that I reacted cynically when I encountered these words in the Haftarah for Vayishlakh, from Hosea 11:9
Lo eh'ehseh kharon api
Lo ashuv l'shakheit Efrayim
Ki El anokhi v'lo-ish
V'lo avo b'ir
I will not act on My wrath
Will not turn to destroy Ephraim
For I am G"d and not man
The Holy in your midst
I will not come in fury.
Yeah, right. G"d doesn't act on G"d's wrath. Gimme a break. G"d dares to indict humankind, and act all high and might and holier than Thou. Oh wait. G"d is all high and mighty and holier than Thou. Or so we're supposed to believe. "I am G"d, not man." Harrumph.
Yet suddenly I'm feeling differently. Perhaps it's the influence of reading how Yaakov and Esav found a way to at least co-exist peacefully. Or maybe I'm just in a good mood. Or it's just indigestion.
In any case, as I thought about it, there are probably plenty of occasions when G"d could have acted wrathfully and didn't. G"d has shown us plenty of mercy. G"d has at many times been slow to anger. I should stop being so harsh on G"d. It's far too convenient to shift the focus off ourselves, and on to G"d. Yes, we're bad, but sometimes G"d is bad too. Like Deity, like Deity's child. That's too easy an out. Maybe time for me to be a little softer on G"d and harder on myself.
It should be more obvious to me. I'm so fond of saying that the question raised by the Shoah is less "where was G"d" than it is "Where was humankind?" We act on wrath far too frequently. Saying "well G"d does that too" doesn't excuse our constant failures to exercise self control. We should seek to emulate as many of the positive aspects of G"d as we can. No time like the present to start. Like Deity, like Deity's child.
©2005 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some other musings on this parasha:
Vayishlakh 5765-B'li Mirmah
Vayishlakh 5761-No Doubt? No Wonder!
Vayishlakh 5762-Don't Get Mad--Get Even!
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