What’s up with God?
Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah and is named for the "Song of the Sea" sung by Moses and the Israelites after they experienced the redemption at the splitting of the Red Sea. What was it, the rabbis asked, that evoked shirah, song, at this point and not earlier when they actually left Egypt? What propels the song to burst forth from their lips? When are we motivated to truly sing the song in our hearts?
This week's Torah portion begins with an issue that is a recurrent one for our foremothers -- difficulty conceiving. As Sarah before her and Rachel after her, Rebecca has trouble getting pregnant. After her husband Isaac pleads with God, she does conceive. But the pregnancy is a painful one -- so much so that Rebecca cries out with words to the effect of, "Would that I did not exist!" Out of this depth of despair she approaches God.
Memory is a multibillion-dollar enterprise these days. I am personally on my fourth PDA and angling for a fifth even sleeker, more efficient model.
Matthew Asner and Danny Gold, the two Reform Jews who wrote, directed and produced the documentary, say that while they don't necessarily believe in the codes, they find them interesting.
If two Jews equal three opinions, what do you get when you mix five rabbis of various denominations to answer a topic as important as the origins of the Torah?
Answer: A rather heated discussion, to say the least.
God spoke to me once when I was 12 years old. Although it happened years ago, I remember it as clearly as if it were today. Revelation is a tricky thing. I am reminded of the Midrash that when God gave the commandments at Mt. Sinai, God speaks to the Children of Israel in a divine voice so powerful they are too terrified to hear anything beyond the very first word of the first commandment. Since even that was too much to bear, God arranged it so they only heard the first letter of the first word. The first word is Anohi ("I am"), and the first letter is an alef, which is silent. So the rabbis teach us that what the Jewish people heard when God spoke was the Divine Silence of the mitzvot. Within that Divine Silence, each woman and man experienced her or his own unique divine revelation.