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Young Israel of Plainview

Parshat Matot/Masei
The Prophecy Project
While many yearn for prophecy, the responsibility is not an easy one. Seldom will a prophet tell the people what they want to hear. In our Haftorah, Jeremiah (Chapter 2) opens with a statement of inspiration: God recalls the bridal love of his nation, how they followed Him in the desert. This unconditional commitment contrasts with the experience that Jeremiah witnesses. Jeremiah presents God as the unrequited lover: “What iniquity has Israel found in me that they forsake me for false idols?” (2:5). After all of God’s many miracles that He has performed for His nation, they have forsaken the “flowing spring of water” to dig untrustworthy wells. Philosophical rationalism demands that we recoil from such description. The infinite and perfect God will not feel wounded or insulted by the lack of commitment of His people. Nevertheless, throughout prophetic literature we find the personification of God’s love. Positively, the Lord loves His nation as His beloved son, or chosen bride. Negatively, the “derided” God lashes out at his rebellious people. These metaphors exist in order to solidify the authentic religious Jewish experience. God does not seek servants, rather He invites humanity to forge a relationship based on mutual commitment. The Jews are asked to prioritize Divine Law and Communal commitment; in response God graces His people with His countenance and protection. Our Temples were destroyed because we failed to appreciate the responsibilities of relationship. We allowed our desire for freedom and autonomy to obscure our responsibilities. The idolatrous experience offered inconsistency and freedom; the deity was called upon only in times of need. At which point, if properly bribed, the gods could respond. The God of Israel demanded consistent relationship, a life experience, and one that was not always easy. Jeremiah declares that God feels betrayed. The Nine days represents an opportunity for introspection. Whereas in Elul, preceding Rosh HaShanah, we will explore the specifics of our actions, in Av, we explore the broad notion of our relationship with God. Have we embraced the notion and loyalty of being His people? Are we committed to that relationship and covenant?