Only You: Re’eh 2021
by Adam J. Rosenbaum
Pre-Game Chatter: When did you settle on the belief (or, perhaps, disbelief) in God that you have today? Has your sense of belief increased or decreased in recent years?
In Deuteronomy, a belief in God, specifically one God, is an absolute necessity:
The Pitch: “Walk after none but the Lord your God, and revere none but Him; observe His commandments alone, and heed only His orders; worship none but Him, and hold fast to Him.” – Deuteronomy 13:5
Swing #1: “The Talmud makes a similar point about imitating the loving acts of God. Maharal, however, inverts the logic of the traditional equation: it is not the desire to imitate God (come closer to Him) that generates the loving behavior of hesed, but rather it is by coming to know and express the spontaneous, unforced energy in oneself, that is called hesed, that one apprehend the God-like in oneself.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire 108
Swing #2: “The expression ‘to walk’ was further applied to conduct, which concerns only the inner life, and which requires no bodily motion.” – Moses Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed
Swing #3: “There came the frequent theme of Deuteronomy (but found elsewhere as well) that serving God — which is to say, both worshiping Him and showing Him one’s devotion — was accomplished not only through the sort of sacrificial offerings found throughout the ancient Near East, but through keeping God’s ‘laws/statutes/commandments’. Here, then, is a striking transformation of the connection between the people of Israel and their God, one that would be repeatedly ratcheted upward until, toward the end of the Second Temple period, God’s aspect as divine lawgiver would be unsurpassed.” – James L. Kugel, The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times 185
Late-Inning Questions: What does it mean to “walk with God”? How do you know whether you’re doing so? Does it mean trying to imitate what God might do, or does it mean simply following what God has asked us to do?
On-Deck at TBT: Registration is open for the new Community Religious School. If you have children or grandchildren going into grades K-7 — or if you know someone who has them — check out this link!
The Big Inning at the End: As I mentioned during last Saturday’s sermon, thank you again for your words of condolences about the Cubs’ recent trades. Remember, being a lifelong Cubs fan has acquainted me with many experiences of loss, as well as the belief (as we saw in 2016) that victory will be attainable someday.