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Please include Israel's captive soldiers in your tefillot: Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam Baumel, Tzvi ben Penina Feldman, Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah Katz, Ron ben Batya Arad, Guy ben Rina Chever.



Monday, 13 Shevat 5775 –  February 2, 2015             

            Commenting on the first of the Ten Commandments – “I am the Lord your God who took you from the land of Egypt” (20:2), the Midrash (Tanchuma Yashan) states: 

Since the Almighty appeared to them at the sea like a courageous warrior waging battle, appeared to them at Sinai as a scholar teaching Torah, appeared to them in the times of Shlomo as a young man, and appeared to them in the times of Daniel as an elderly man filled with compassion, the Almighty said to them: Although You see me in different images, I, the One at Sinai, am the same One who was at the sea… 

Some people perceive God exclusively as a “courageous warrior.”  They perceive Judaism primarily as a nationalistic movement which demands that we “wage battle” to oppose our foes.  Then there are those who relate to God only “as a young man,” as the One who governs during tranquil, prosperous periods, such as the time of King Shlomo.  In their view, the Almighty deserves our attention and devotion only during periods of peace and joy.  Others perceive God as only “an elderly man filled with compassion” – the One to whom we turn during times of crisis and distress.  From their perspective, God is there for us when we suddenly need Him, when our own powers and skills are insufficient to bring us what we need or want.  The rest of the time, however, when we are able to delude ourselves into a confident sense of self-sufficiency, He can be ignored.  Finally, there are those who mistakenly view the Almighty exclusively as “a scholar teaching Torah.”  For them, our religion is only about knowledge and scholarship, and has no bearing or relevance outside the realm of Torah study. 

            God therefore proclaims, “Anokhi Hashem Elokekha” – there is One God, who fills many different roles and demands many different roles from us.  We cannot choose only one aspect of Jewish life and ignore the rest.  We cannot perceive the Almighty in terms of only one model to the exclusion of the others.  God is at once a “courageous warrior,” a youthful, energetic lad, an “elderly man filled with compassion,” and a wise, gentle scholar.  Torah life calls upon us to fill many different roles and assume many vastly different sets of responsibilities, and we must strive to fulfill them all to the best of our ability, without allowing ourselves to choose one or some over others. 

(Based on a sermon by Rabbi Isaac Swift


Rav David Silverberg     




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(c) 2015 Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash, Yeshivat Har Etzion.











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