Tazri'a & Mezora
For the week of April 29, 2006 / 1 Iyar 5766
Torah: Vayikra/Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33;
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
The Dependable One
"Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. (Isaiah 66:9)
Throughout human history, people have tried to gain an understanding of the forces around us. The unpredictable nature of life is not something most of us are comfortable with. We may not be aware of it, but how we live is made up of innumerable safety devices designed for our protection. Obvious ones are things such as shelter and clothing. Less obvious might be the ways we relate to one another, whether in our close personal relationships or how we deal with strangers.
For much of human existence, we have also strived after getting a handle on the workings of the spiritual realm. While people may appear to be far less religious than even a generation ago, there continues to be an awareness of the spiritual realm. This is evident through the great number of people who show interest in horoscopes, the usage of good luck charms and other superstitious practices, the great interest in various new age activities, and so on.
Looking at how most people engage the spiritual and natural forces of life, it is clear to me that these forces are regarded as undependable. No matter how much we try to understand the universe in which we live, we cannot trust the forces of life. And if those forces are understood as personal as many cultures have done, regarding them as gods, then these gods are not dependable.
Their being undependable could be for various reasons. They might be completely mysterious, not wanting to or incapable of revealing their true intensions to us. Living life then becomes like living in the dark, since we never know what these forces might do to us. Another possibility is that while they may have made themselves known, they don't possess any inherent consistency. Either they have intentions that they themselves cannot fulfill, or they change their intentions for no apparent reason. Either way the implications for us are the same. We are at the mercy of their whims.
This is all so very different from the nature of the God of the Bible. As we read in this week's Haftarah,
From this we understand that God is a God of willful intention who fulfills those intentions. If he decides to do something, he does it all the way through completion.
Of course we don't always understand his intentions. We also might misunderstand his timing and his methods, but the God of Israel says what he means and means what he says. If he decides to do something, it will be done. If he makes a promise, he will do it.
Once we accept that God is Lord over all creation, we need not fear the forces around us. While we might be vulnerable to things in life that we cannot control, we can entrust ourselves to the Dependable One.
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