Torah Portion: Tetzaveh
Book of Exodus
February 19, 2016
Most people who subscribe to a religious faith see the world, and its wonders, as a Divine gift of love to humankind. What if this world, and its inhabitants, were only created for “God’s sake” and not ours?
After listing the requirements for the ancient desert sanctuary (mish’kan) and the particulars with regard to the clothing to be worn by the priests, God declares, “And they shall know that I the Lord am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the Lord their God.” (Exo. 29:46)
Why are the ancient Israelites asked to build this portable sanctuary? So they may worship the One God? No. The stated reason is so “I might abide among them.” God wants to be among the people. In the loneliness of the cosmos, it is God who is seeking love and companionship among humankind. Rabbi Brad Artson explains, “It was out of that need for love and commitment that God first created the world and later made a covenant with a particular people, the Jews, before extending that love to all people. The “choseness” of the Jewish People is a primary expression of God’s need for emotional connection and for mutual concern.”
In the creation of humankind, it was important that we be fashioned “in the image of God.” As such, we too possess a need to love and be loved. We may love our jobs and possessions, but in the end their inability to reciprocate only increases our need to be loved. God has instilled within us his/her same wants and needs. Like God, only the mutual love of another person, and the recognition of God’s unconditional love for each human being, saves one from the wasteland of loneliness.
God demonstrates an unending love for humankind through the gift of life; we show our love for God through acts of lovingkindness toward others. For the person of faith, love is an ever-present reality, loneliness a mere abstraction.
Rabbi Howard Siegel