Our parsha includes many well-known stories, tales that generations have, and continue to pour over: Creation and rest, learning and naming, first love and loss of trust, expulsion from paradise and the first murder.
After Cain killed his brother Able, God called out to Cain, “Ei Hevel achikha, Where is Hevel/Abel your brother” (Gen 4:9)? Cain’s cold response “Hashomer achi anochi, Am I my brother’s keeper”? haunts us still to this day. Still smarting, Cain’s follow up of complaining about the punishment/consequences from God “Gadol avoni m’nisa/My punishment is too great to bear” is the epitome of chutzpah. Cain’s lack of awareness and responsibility is astounding.
As I watch the (lack of) covid precaution debacle, and it’s deadly consequences, between the governments (this scene is playing out in several countries and not just in NYC) and parts of the Jewish community the question/expression Hashomer achi anochi? keeps coming to my mind. Watching some shouting “anti-Semitism” at the slightest criticism and calling health officials “Nazis” reminds me of how easily we can pray and do ritual by rote with it not having the slightest impact on our behaviour.
I wonder what my responsibility is and what I can actually do to help. I am reminded that trying to persuade/convince/argue others to change is mostly a futile exercise. Ultimately being a good role model, and publishing such reflections on social media, is the best I can do. I find that arguing with people about Covid precaution, is about as helpful as arguing about politics these days. It doesn't seem to end well for anybody. ... See MoreSee Less
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In this week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, we read Moses’ poetic description of the relationship between God and Israel. This portion is also known as the Song of Moses.
In verse 32:6 Moses refers to God as Israel‘s father. This metaphor of God as father particularly resonates this time of year. The Avinu Malkeinu (Our father, our king) prayer sees God as a father. The metaphor of God as a rock and Eagle are also mentioned. Lastly the idea of God’s countenance (face) being shown to us is of course also a metaphor.
Thinking of God in these mundane concepts allows us to relate to an otherwise unfathomable, ineffable Being. Knowing which aspects of the metaphor apply and which don’t requires study otherwise one runs the risk of attributing erroneous limitations to God based on the metaphor.