G-d is in the Details

At the end of the day, it’s all about the details.
But, look at the big picture!
I do, and when I look at it really, really closely, I see that it’s made of lots and lots of tiny little dots. Had any one of them been elsewhere, slowly but surely, the whole thing would look differently. The Mona Lisa might not have that semi-smile and Beethoven’s symphony might have just a few disharmonic notes. We’d be sitting in the dark because when we passed our hand on the wall, we missed the light switch by just a little, and on and on.
Parashat Mishpatim is sandwiched between the dramatic Giving of the Law and the commitment of “na’ase venishma” – נעשה ונשמע we will do and we will listen (Exodus 24:7), the People’s confirmation of their acceptance of the covenant. It speaks about servitude, justice, compensations, theft, witchcraft, how to treat animals, loans, produce, lost objects, festivals, food, and more. And more.
You can’t be serious! G-d can’t possibly care about all this! Soon you’ll tell me that He cares how I tie my shoes?!
Just last week we were at Sinai, which our sages have compared it to the wedding of G-d with His People. It was marvelous, with flashy audio-visual effects and an impressive presentation. And yet, most relationships don’t survive on the “once in a…” event. The next day, there are dishes in the sink, and a long list of tedious, conflicting to-do’s. Love is made of the daily care, rather than the “wow”.
Ok, you might say, so we got some laws; “detailed” laws. So what. There were other legal codes at the time of the Torah, each progressive its own right. Hammurabi’s Code for example, also taught what to do with a murderer! Yes, but it dealt with establishing a fair – as humanly possible, organized and orderly society. Only the Torah included G-d in this detailed, legalistic conversation.
Just last week Moses told Yitro, his father in law who came to give him some good advice: “כי יבוא אלי העם לדרוש אלוהים “ – when the people come to me to seek G-d (18:15)… Wait: I thought the people came to him so he can judge between them and each other! What’s this with “seeking G-d”?
From instructions on how we treat a Hebrew servant, the Torah makes it clear that the judicial system is not just a human creation for the humans’ convenience. Rather, it is a conversation between each one of us as individuals and as part of a society, and the Divine, and that conversation goes through everyone and everything around me. The slave, the disadvantaged, the stranger, the one who was wounded; trees, fields, food – nothing escapes it. Our spiritual journey is inseparable from how we treat each other. It is a constant search for G-d’s image within and without, through all we do, and all we meet. Sinai is a turning point, not just because of Sinai but even more so, because of Mishpatim. Even the most minutia discussion, going forward, is going to be joined by a third voice: that of G-d.

This entry was posted in life and some, shabbat shalom, פרשת השבוע לחילוני האדוק and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to G-d is in the Details

  1. howardtrachtman says:

    Terrific Thanks Shabbat shalom CT

    Sent from my iPhone

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