Joy Westerman's D’var Torah

October 21, 2006 In B’resheit, my Torah portion, God is aghast at the antics of humans, who are ignoring their spiritual needs and focusing only on their physical desires. In his fury, God decides to destroy the world, but spares Noah and his family. In Isaiah, my Haf-Torah, God is again angry at his creation, for mortals are now worshipping idols, thus betraying his trust once more. Instead of obliterating the world, however, God chooses to give his creation a second chance. Today I will explain how God comes to that decision, as well as the important lessons He learns in relation to responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness. Please remember that all interpretations of my Portions are merely a Midrash—a fiction story created to answer questions and fill in the blanks of accounts in the Torah. In my Torah portion, God starts as a child—a proud, cocky, power-hungry child. All his life, he has been successful, intelligent, and victorious. Yet God is a restless spirit—each new accomplishment, each new award, makes him realize he must always stay on top, be the best and the finest. Like all young, ambitious, competitive children, God wants to be a legend. And since our protagonist is no fool, he takes matters into his own hands. God decides to create a world so spectacular, so fascinating, so daring, that it will surpass all others, present, past, and future alike. (PAUSE) This world, which he calls Earth, will be his most courageous achievement. Day and night God labors at this project, ceasing neither for water nor sleep. Each morning, God awakes and writes of his progress in his journal, an ancient book he calls the Torah. Finally, at the end of a six-day period, God’s work is complete. This new world is beautiful: strange and wonderful, with lush, lavish gardens, sleek, docile wildlife, authoritative, colossal mountains—mile upon mile of splendor and grace. (PAUSE) Yet God is not satisfied with his creation—he believes it to be too ordinary, too typical, too harmless; and so he sits, head in hands, and puzzles over his next addition to his world of peace. And at last, the answer comes to him—mortals. Creating these creatures—these dangerous, unpredictable, disobedient, destructive, (PAUSE) yet unbelievably gorgeous creatures—is a chance no other God has dared to take. Yet our God is young, he is inexperienced, he is irrational, and so he creates several generations of mortal humans. For many millennia, God dotes on these humans, responding to their every need and wish, and treating them with love and compassion. He believes himself to be a prodigy, the only being ever to have been able to resurrect, understand, and eventually control— these obdurate people, and he feels he has finally reached his dream of becoming a renowned and celebrated figure. For a time, peace and happiness reign in the kingdom. Slowly, however, God begins to lose interest in his creation, and decides that the constant care, attention, and interest required in keeping the humans content is greatly tiring. God is miserable at the thought that his brilliant accomplishment has proved to be a waste, as is stated in Genesis, Chapter 6, v. 6. “And the Lord regretted that He had made man in Earth, and His heart was saddened.” Thinking the love he provided for his creations took too much effort, God deserts the humans, leaving them to survive on their own while He dreams of future additions to his Earth. But alas— in all his pride, God has forgotten the fact that mortals are rebellious, and will not stand to be overlooked. And so, the harmony on earth begins to cease. Humans start to turn their backs on God, discontinuing sacrifices and prayers. Cold, stone idols take the place of their oncebeloved creator. Mortals go so far as to stop thanking God at meals, choosing instead to bow down to their statues, setting a cup and plate aside for their newfound deities’ enjoyment. God realizes His mortals have defied him, betrayed him. They are no longer in his control, and he has been exposed as a fool.” As God has never been disobeyed, or proven wrong in his life, he is unable to deal with his horrifying discovery. In Isaiah, Chapter 42, v. 15, the furious Being declares: “I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and will dry up the pools. For days God is silent, drowning himself in his own fury. Then, in a fierce moment of hatred, and without stopping to think about his actions or their consequences, the shameful, raging God begins to destroy his world. As God is about to construct murderous fires to spread across the land, a gust of wind flips the pages in his Torah journal, landing on one of his earliest entries. As God glances at the paper, the words seem to merge, fading into one another, until a single sentence pops out at him— “My humans and I love each other.” Hundreds of memories of happier times fill God’s brain, and he unconsciously calls back the roaring flames. Time seems to stand still for the Celestial Being, until suddenly he falls to the ground, sobbing with the agony of loss, grief, resentment, and thoughtless arrogance. God realizes that he has let his people down. He has underestimated them, taking no notice of their feelings at his abandonment, thinking only of his own competitive nature and desire for superiority. God realizes he is the one to blame for the humans’ socalled betrayal. He discovers that in order to be a true legend, to be wise and respected, you have to love and respect your subjects, and treat them as equals. You have to be selfless, and modest, and sincere. You have to be a leader, but not a controller. You have to wake up every day with your mind filled with inquiries and worries, ideas and dreams, all about your people. You have to be strong, and spirited, and you have to take on your responsibilities. If you truly want to be a ruler, then you will have to be a ruler for the rest of your life. And God thinks to himself “My obsession and desire for wanting to be wise only for the sake of being known as wise does not truly make me a wise being. To really achieve wisdom, I need experience, I need to try and fail, I need to learn from my mistakes and correct them all.” God considers the fact that he has known all along why his mortals chose to worship statues. For, unlike Him, humans believed, a statue was always present, always watchful, and always sympathetic. A statue could never dispose of you, ignore your needs and turn away. A statue was always dependable. A statue was everything God was not, for God created humans only because he had the ability. How could He have been so arrogant as to create a whole world and not take the responsibility of managing its people?! And it was that final realization, that ultimate moment or light, that made the mighty God crumble and cry out in shame, disgust, and self-hatred. Being in a thoughtful mood, God begins to reason all the possible conclusions to the circumstances. He can continue with the destruction of his world. He can enslave all his world’s creatures. He can wage violence and demolition into the hearts of all mortals. Or, he can forgive his subjects—and in doing so, find a way to forgive himself. God lifts his pen to his Torah, and the words for his emotions, his regrets, pour out of him in a torrent. “But—you are small, you are weak, you are few. You have no power that rivals my own. I will let you see the damage I can wreak, let you smell the scent of blood and death, let you hear the shouts of children and the forgotten cry of warriors as it echoes against the canyons. I will bring light to the blind, and hope to the deaf. I will reveal my supremacy and authenticity and those who turn towards me and hear my voice will find themselves able to clearly see the horrors of their actions, and will understand once and for all that I am God, I am now, I am one. Those who ignore my call and shield their eyes from the sight of my fury those of my creation who still choose to worship idols; they are the ones who will be turned away, and upon being cast out, they will be filled with shame and misery until they choose to repent for their actions. Your trust and worship of idols and material objects will cease, and you will beg for forgiveness. And in forgiving you— my subjects, my inspirations— I will be relieving myself all the horrid misconceptions and mistakes of judgment I have made since creating this beautiful world. In the past I have felt humiliation and rage, yet I see now that neither emotion can be called important. I am giving us a chance; I am offering a prayer. Hear my words, and feel my voice. Correct your mistakes, and begin anew. For I am your God, your healer, your savior... and you are forgiven.” As he pours out his heart on paper, God feels a change come over him; a heavenly, luscious feeling that enlightens his entire Being, and spreads brilliant fireworks of color across the seas and land of all the worlds he has created. For in this time, this period of realization and anger, of pain and dishonor, our child God has evolved into an Adult—a mighty, responsible Being who ceases to demonstrate conceit and indifference, a Being who feels love and affection towards his creations. A Being who will serve as an inspiration, caregiver, healer, miracle-worker, and spouse even in thousands of years to come. I reach out to you today, all my friends and family in the audience, all those who’s names I do not know, to tell you that you must learn to forgive others before you can truly forgive yourself. You must live up to your responsibilities, and understand that the needs of others may be just as vital as your own. You must stop yourself from getting carried away with pride, however fascinating the prospect of fame and riches may seem. You must follow in the footsteps of God, and throw away your resentment. Forgive, and love, and gain wisdom, and you will become a wonderful leader, determined parent, and brilliant companion. After all, if God Himself could accomplish such feats, surely you can as well. Isaiah: 42:14 to 42:18

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