Sunday, February 24, 2008

Service 2-23-2008

Today's Torah portion covered the Golden Calf Incident.
The discussion didn't center on idolotry, though, which was pretty cool.  Instead, we talked about God's discussion with Moses.  I hadn't really ever noticed that Moses found out about the idol from God, while he was still up on Mt. Sinai.  
The Rabbi pointed out that the way it was phrased (...what YOUR PEOPLE have done...) was a lot like how spouses argue.  The relationship between Moses and God was that personal, familiar, and passionate.  It's a powerful picture.
What comes next is equally revealing:  God tells Moses to go away and deal with the people, because God is so very angry that he needs to be alone, because all he wants to do is destroy the Hebrews.  Incredibly, Moses is the one to calm him down.  Moses points out that God had just brought the people out of Egypt, and that it wouldn't make sense to kill them now, because what would the Egyptians think?  God agrees to give them another chance, the Hebrews live on, and God...apologizes.
This brings up a terrifically interesting issue: if God did something that requires an apology, then does that mean he can make mistakes?  The Rabbi says that there are midrashim that say, yes, God is falliable.  And since God isn't perfect, he likewise does not expect perfection from us.  What he wants is for us to follow the laws as best we can, and admit when we've done wrong.  

It's beautifully freeing, especially for me, being a perfectionist...from a Christian tradition that always felt like it demanded absolute perfection in order to be worthy.  I know I'm not the only one who felt that way; when I was in high school, there was a huge problem with eating disorders among the high school youth group.

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