Reb Lisa's Message
October 20, 2021
We are four weeks into the new Torah cycle. Already we have been presented with challenging theological questions. If we examine only the broadest strokes from each Parasha thus far, we are likely confused. Who is the God of the Torah? What is expected of us? What can we expect from God? Consider what we have gleaned thus far, from the first four Parashiyot.
We learn from the first Parasha, Bereishit, that God is the very source of Creation, the one who brought all that exists into being. God declared Creation very good and entrusted humans as stewards and partners. And yet we learn next, in Parashat Noach, that God holds the potential for destruction with the actions of the Great Flood.. We also learn about the relational God, the One who promises to never destroy the Earth and humanity again. God gives the sign of the rainbow as proof. In Parashat Lech L’cha, God pronounces Abraham a great nation. The Holy Covenant is established. We are to be God’s people, throughout the generations.
We grow in our unfolding relationship to the Holy One, seeing examples of accepting God’s will (Noah with the Flood), questioning God’s will (Abraham with the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah). We witness the God of miracles, when God sees Hagar in her aloneness and opens her eyes to the well in front of her. And also when Sarah conceives a child in her nineties after decades of infertility. Then we grapple with the God of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. How are we to begin to understand the God that would ask such a thing? And why would Abraham “negotiate” with God, on behalf of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, pleading that God save them if even ten righteous can be found, but not question God’s command to offer his beloved son Isaac?
This is a lot to hold and understand. Again we ask, “Who is the God of the Torah? Is this different from the God of right now? What is expected of us? What can we expect from God?”
This week in Shul School, we grappled with What/Who God is? With the understanding that there are no right answers, no wrong answers, a group of our Shul School students answered the question:
In no particular order, here are their responses:
Hard to believe in.
Someone I will never meet.
Someone who has made bad choices, such as flooding the Earth.
The Creator of the World.
A Place to feel safe.
The Person who helped my ancestors.
Yes and yes and yes. Amen v’amen.
May we continue to expand our notions of God. May we and God evolve together. May we and God accept each other, in all our complexity and mysteriousness.