October 27, 2021

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Parashat Re’eh: Wounded youngsters of God

“You are little ones of the Lord your God. You shall not gash yourselves or shave your head for the reason that of the dead” (Deuteronomy 14:1). Any individual who needs to have an understanding of the way Jews feel about God can do so by checking out the commentary on this verse.

Asking why the two statements are juxtaposed – 1) that you are children of God and 2) you should really not gash you for the useless – our commentators offer you a range of interpretations. Ibn Ezra writes that the verse reminds us that although we may not realize God’s decrees in this environment, God’s action is determined by really like as is the scenario with any mother or father. Young children really do not usually fully grasp, but they feeling the like from which a excellent parent’s actions emanate. To injure your self simply because of what God has completed is thus to deficiency the believe in we should really have in God’s parental adore.
Yet another clarification is that all lifestyle eventually belongs to God, so God is taking that which is God’s – and to injure by yourself is to misunderstand this reality. This is reminiscent of Bruriah’s beautiful comment on the decline of her kids. When her husband Rabbi Meir will come residence, she tells him that anyone lent her two jewels, and really should she return them to the owner? When Rabbi Meir says of course she must, she gently qualified prospects him to the children’s home (Midrash Mishley 31:10). God has given everyday living, and it is God’s to reclaim.

But another solution is to stage to the variation involving pagan assumptions and our very own tradition. Whereas pagan gods were being jealous and therefore to wound oneself was a way to appease them, the God of Israel is motivated by enjoy, and does not want to see us needlessly undergo.

Two concluding understandings of this verse paint the most thorough picture of Israel’s deep perception of the nature of God in the globe. Several commentators reveal that even if a person loses a mother or father, one is not parentless in this environment, for we are small children of God. In God’s earth, none are orphans. To wound by yourself is to overlook the consolation of nonetheless possessing a father or mother in the environment.

Sforno, among other folks, reminds us that God is reassuring the Jewish folks with these words that dying is not the end. A father or mother does not abandon a kid. God does not abandon us, residing or dead. Do not injure on your own mainly because dying is not only an conclusion but a portal to a new beginning. There is anything past this earth and that far too, is underneath the superintendence of the God, who is the dad or mum of all.

Underlying all these explanations is the obligation not to damage oneself, which is of wonderful relevance in Judaism. Using care of one’s overall health and not destroying or defacing the overall body God has given us, is illustrated in lots of approaches in our custom. The Talmud tells us that when Hillel went to the bathhouse he said he was heading to conduct a mitzvah – to clean and care for one’s overall body is a mitzvah (Vayikra Rabbah 34:3). Hillel points out that even lifeless statues are cleaned and washed, and how could he do a lot less for an genuine impression of God? To lower or abuse one’s system is to spurn the gift God has provided.

Each and every of these can take on the verses presupposes that God’s prohibitions are enthusiastic by adore. That which a person ought to do, and that which 1 ought to not do, are not arbitrary decrees of a capricious deity but the salutary guidance of a God who cares deeply for development.

Our ancestors lived in a environment in which self-hurt was assumed to be pleasing to the gods. In a moment of anguish, when externalizing the ache is so tempting, combining it with that presumption manufactured it most likely that they would whip themselves or scour their flesh. In just such periods the Torah gives both wisdom and convenience. Do not injure your self you are not alone in the globe everyday living will go on regardless of your loss and there is a God who cares.  ■

The author is Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the creator of David the Divided Heart. On Twitter: @rabbiwolpe.