It has become a tradition (well, for many of the last 12 years) to annually share with you this Random Musing for parashat Va’etchanan. As always, a few alterations to keep it timely.
The Promise. What a stunning prediction. If we don’t keep G”d’s commandments we shall be scattered among the nations, there to serve man-mad gods of wood and stone. (Silica isn’t exactly stone, but I wonder if the computer gods we are serving kind of fit that description?) D’varim 4:26-28
And here we are. We didn’t keep the commandments. Now we are scattered among the nations. And we serve man made G”ds of wood and stone. Oh yes, we keep the ancient faith alive as best we can, but I sometimes wonder if even the most pious among us are meeting the ethical and moral standards set forth in G”d’s commandments?
What a depressing scenario-what a depressing situation for us. But the answer is right there in the following verses (29-31.) Even if we search for G”d in the midst of our scattered lives, we can find G”d. For G”d will keep the promises, G”d is compassionate and will not fail us.
I don’t know about you, but when I look about the world today, and consider all the horrible mess we have created, keeping these verses in mind is almost a pre-requisite to being able to cope. Now, some will claim that G”d has abandoned us, that God no longer responds to our searching. To them I would remind them of the second half of v. 29, which tells us that G”d can be found even in the midst of our diaspora, but only if we seek with all our heart and soul.
I am reminded of a discussion we had one night on Erev Tisha b’Av. The question was raised, as it often is, why we modern liberal Jews would mourn the loss of the Beit haMikdash when indeed it was that very event that precipitated the formation of portable Judaism, rabbinic Judaism, that has enabled us to survive all these years in galut. Before the Beit haMikdash was destroyed (both times) G”d sent us prophets to warn us that if we didn’t get our act together, we’d lose out. Both times we ignored the warning and suffered the consequences. And here we are, almost two millennia later, and we’re still not getting it. And so we rail that G”d has abandoned us, when it reality it may be we who have abandoned G”d. Despite all the tragic events, the persecutions, we’re still around. If we’re not finding G”d amidst all this, we’re just not looking hard enough.
We mourn the loss of the Beit haMikdash to remind ourselves of the folly of our still failing to heed the message. Ands to remind us to look for G”d, even among the ruins of what once was. This anamnetical connection with our history keeps the message ever fresh in our minds.
I am also reminded of mass e-mail that was forwarded to me some years back, entitled “Letter of Intent,” a whimsical piece in which the Jews explain why they are not planning to renew the covenant with G”d. It goes into a whole litany of complaints. I wrote the following response to those who forwarded the piece on to me:
“You know what’s wrong with this whimsical piece? It completely ignores the fact that, despite our perceptions that G”d has not kept up one end of the bargain, that we have done far worse at keeping ours, and that despite that–we’re still here!!! If that’s not G”d watching over us, I don’t know what is, and renouncing our covenant is sheer folly, and certain to lead to the end of even the remnant that remains of the Jewish people. We didn’t listen to the prophets, and we’re still not listening. Yet, somehow, mir zenen doh. When, if ever, we actually try to do the things that G”d wants us to do, at least most of the time, and we’re still put upon, tortured, killed, etc., then maybe we have a right to complain. But I don’t think we’ve earned that quite yet.
Torah tells us that G”d is always there for us to find–if we search in the right way-with all our heart and soul.
This Shabbat, seek with all your heart and soul. G”d is there waiting to be found. Even if you have already found G”d in your life, seek deeper.
©2007 by Adrian A. Durlester Portions ©1999 2001, 2002 & 2012 by Adrian A. Durlester
Other musings on this parasha: