So which is it, G”d, that upsets You more? You’re real unhappy with how Your people have behaved and acted in the land You gave them, so you drive them from that land in punishment.The native peoples of the land to which you have driven Your people are gossiping about You, saying what a weak and miserable G”d you must be, if Your own chosen people were so depraved that You had to drive them from the land You gave to them into their lands. You, yes You, G”d, are responsible for creating the first serious period of anti-immigrant fervor in the history of the world. Is it any wonder that Your creations continue to follow in Your footsteps? You set the example.
Vanity does not become a G”d, unless you are the little child god of the Star Trek episode “Squire of Gothos,” or the obnoxious, self-absorbed “Q” of ST:TNG (both of which, truth be told, do bear some resemblance to the way You have behaved.)
So, embarrassed by Your own favored people, you decide to be magnanimous – but not for their sake – but for YOUR sake. You’ll bring them all back to the land You gave them. You’ll purify them, clean out their screwed up psyches, and give them new hearts and new spirit. The land will be restored, be fertile, and Your people will multiply in abundance. Thus the people of the other nations, who were laughing at You before, will now say how great You are for they will see how You have restored us fully.
This is the story told in the haftarah for Shabbat Parah, Ezekiel 38:16-38.
Who is Your PR firm, G”d? Who is giving You this advice? Who is telling You this isn’t about anybody but You? Fire them. They’re not helping You. This all just makes You seem small and petty. If you are truly Master of the Universe, You don’t need to deal with all this quotidian stuff. Emotions like jealousy and vanity are beneath You. Why stoop to humanity’s level? Why, you really could shoot a man right out on Fifth Avenue and You wouldn’t lose a believer. Is that what You think? Might be time for a reality check. (That is, if You are subject to the laws of the realities You create, which is a whole other discussion.)
Now, the next chapter in Ezekiel is the famous “dry bones” story. So I guess during this chapter, the shrooms hadn’t quite kicked in yet. So You have less of an excuse for this obvious display of Deific vanity. David had you figured out – might be why he had to author that one book under the pseudonym of Qohelet. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh? Maybe the whole book of Qohelet is as much a message to You as it is to us?
We’re not easy to work with, are we, G”d? Did you give up and find an expedient way out? Did you impregnate some poor woman and have her bring forth a diversion? You threw that mess at us and watched us stumble through it for a few centuries. Deciding perhaps the fun had run its course, a few centuries later you have a conversation with that Muhammad guy. That’ll keep humans busy for another while.
But what you didn’t see coming (or maybe you did…) was that a lot of people starting asking if You were real, if humanity had outgrown the need for You, and if, in fact, humanity had actually created You rather than vice versa. through my head. Cat got Your tongue? We’re waiting.
C’mon G’d! Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah. People are laughing at You. Denying You. Making fun of You. Where’s Your response? No snappy comeback? No smiting? No abject lessons?
If even this appeal to Your vanity isn’t working, what are we to do?
And if he tarry, I shall wait.
Perhaps there will always be some who will wait, some who have perfect faith. Perhaps, in the end, they will be rewarded by You for their faithfulness. You make it hard sometimes, Very hard.
Sure. As I write these words, the apologetics run seamlessly – those I have come to terms with, and sometimes, those which I utterly reject yet still find rattling around in my brain. I grasp at these straws, hoping against hope to continue to find the faith to believe in the continually changing G”d of my understanding. Is it wrong to ask for just a little help?
©2019 by Adrian A. Durlester
Other Musing on this parasha:
Sh’mini 5778 – Drops That Sparkle (5774 Redux and Revised)
Sh’mini 5777 – GEFTS 20th Anniversary
Sh’mini 5775 – Vayyidom Aharon (Revisiting Calm In A Crisis)
Sh’mini 5774 – Indubitably Delicious
Sh’mini 5772 – Collect Call
Sh’mini/Shabbat Parah 5771-So Say We All
Sh’mini 5770 – Don’t Eat That, It’s Not Kosher
Sh’mini 5769 srettirC ypsirC
Sh’mini 5767-Don’t Be a Stork
Shemini 5765-It All Matters
Shemini 5764-Playing Before Gd
Shemini 5763 – Belly of the Beast
Shemini 5762-Crispy Critters
Shemini 5761-Lessons From Our Students
Shemini 5760-Calm in a Crisis
Shemini 5759-Porking Out