There is so little today that inspires “thunder, power and dread” in adults except, perhaps, those who feel a closeness to the supernatural deity in whom they choose to believe. The “Covenant” that the Hebrew People entered into with the supernatural deity they called “Adonoi” and the latter day Hebrews, those who are Reform, Conservative and Orthodox who refer to as “Hashem” or, “The Name” or
“G-d”, was formulated amidst “thunder, power and dread”. In discussing the following portion of Torah this morning, the teacher (a “natural” who happens to be a labor lawyer by profession) moved us into the directions given for the proper attire the sons of Aaron should wear in the presence of the Tent of Meeting, before the Ark of the Covenant and in the presence of the Creator of the Universe. This is a too brief description of what took place this morning.
Bob Sugarman, our teacher, asked that each tell what reading from the Torah meant to us. My contribution was that it was a transformative work that has affected the world since its publication to be read by all peoples – especially the Christians and Muslims who consider the first Jew, Abraham, to be their ancestor who made the first bargain with an unseen God.
Now, despite the thunder, power and dread that was in that portion of
Exodus, descriptions of God have to be missing because He, She or It was and still is an invisible God. In fact, my reaction upon further reflection was that there was avoidance by the writers of the Bible to deal with anything more than - God was revealed face to face only with Moses – and you know what happened to him – he wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land. The notion of an invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent and terribly possessive God was reported to also be capricious and forgetful. He is missing in accounts after Biblical times despite the oppression of his creations by others of his creation. This is interesting because we would like to put a face even on this God.
Actually, “GOD” was never described but was and is supernatural, unseen, unfelt, unknown (except to Moses). Aaron and the Priests were directed down to the tiniest detail the way they had to dress in performance of their duties.
Bob introduced some new ways at looking at the details of the garments detailed by God in the Torah. He reduced the many pages used in their description to having the people “remember, represented as a community, redemption, service and modesty” so that God would reside among the people rather than in the Ark, the Tablets of stone or in the Tent of Meeting. This is a hard concept with which to deal. It made us think and this is good even if you have difficulty in believing in God. It couldn’t hurt.