Thursday, November 30, 2006

MM: This is the Word of G^d coming to you!!!

I don't mean just the words below, but all the pieces that I write on the
Portion of the week and other Jewish issues of interest.

People that know me a little but haven't seen me for a while might be taken
aback a bit by this revelation, or even get slightly worried about my mental
state of health. Has he finally lost it? You don't need to worry - I'm fine,
thank G^d.

When G^d communicates with us, how does He do that if at all?

When G^d teaches us through our teachers, or directly by inserting thoughts
and associations into our brain, He doesn't say: My word is your command.
That is the way One speaks to Angels or robots. (Blind obedience is also the
goal of brainwashing.) But Humans (by His will) have a Free Will, emotions
and intelligence and therefore need a different approach.

He doesn't spell it all out when He communicates with us. He gives sparse
hints. And not just in our days. Already with all of the greatest of the
Prophets He worked like that. (Except for with Moses - He spelled it out to
him at least some of the time.)

Anyone who teaches Judaism with integrity teaches the word of G^d. No less.
That's what I claim about my teachings too. Ongoing Revelation. And the only
way to learn Judaism from this is to wonder about such a Jewish text, to
fight it or to let it work on our emotions. That's exactly what I want from
my readers. That we engage in the text. What we read, does it help us better
realize what He wants from us? Is it a good enough wrestling partner for us?
Des it speak to our hearts?

On the other hand, if writings are passively absorbed they have escaped the
chain of transmission of the Jewish Tradition. They need to challenge, sow
trouble, rock boats, slaughter sacred cows, disrupt the status quo, fight
indifference, raise eyebrows, make us uncomfortable. His words and ideas
need to make us suddenly aware, cry, shiver, growl, laugh, blush, sweat,
talk, yawn or feel unsettled (confused, scared, sad) or zestful (loved,
proud, connected, calm).

True wholehearted obedience only comes after understanding. Naaseh v'nishma
- We will do and understand. First we need to wrestle with it, argue it or
be touched by it. Only after that we can obey as full-fledged people. And
then we made the knowledge our own so that we can be a link in the chain of
the spreading of the ongoing Revelation. And then when we go teach we can
say "This is the Word of G^d coming to you!!!"

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