Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Faithful and Perfect God

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
      and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong
      upright and just is he. — 
Deuteronomy 32:4

The Torah portion for this week is Ha’azinu, which means “listen,” from Deuteronomy 32:1–52, and the Haftorah is from 2 Samuel 22:1–51.

One of the most difficult tests of faith comes in the face of inexplicable tragedy. Just a few months ago, Israel experienced one such excruciating reality. Three wonderful God-fearing teenagers living in their homeland, Israel, were abducted at gunpoint and killed. The whole country reeled from the experience. Yet, during the 18 days when the fate of the boys was still unknown, Rachel Frenkel, the mother of one boy, said these incredibly faithful and righteous words to a group of young girls praying at the Western Wall for the boys’ safe return: “I want you to promise me that no matter what happens, you won’t be crushed or broken. That you won’t lose faith. After all, we must remember that God isn’t our ‘employee.’ He doesn’t always do as we wish.”

What strength. What faith.

In this week’s reading, Moses delivered his final words to the people. He described God as follows: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong upright and just is he.” The Sages teach that Moses was specifically referring to the way that we need to relate to God in times of crisis: When we are tempted to find fault in our Creator and question His ways, we mustn’t; rather, we must trust that God knows what He is doing and accept His decrees with love. As Rachel Frenkel reminded us, God is not our employee. He is the Master of the World, and while we cannot understand His ways, we can trust them.

A story is told about the famous 12th-century rabbi, Maimonides, who had a list of questions that he was not able to resolve. The questions had to do with matters of faith, suffering of the righteous, and the like. One time, Maimonides went to the bedside of a close disciple who was moments from death. He asked that the student take the list of questions, ask them once he got into heaven, and then report to Maimonides in a dream with the answers. After a long time the student finally appeared to Maimonides in a dream, but he had no answers. He explained, “I did as you asked. I stood in Heaven and began to read your list. But as I was reading them, I fell silent. I realized that from where I was standing, there were no questions.”

Friends, we must always remember that our perspective on Earth is limited. There is a place and there will be a time when everything will make sense. For now, we must trust wholeheartedly and accept God’s decrees with love.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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