Sunday, 24 February 2008

How to be God's Perfect Partner

Midrash of the Week

Tanchuma, Ki Tisa, #30[1]

What led Moses to break the tablets?

A parable: A king went on an overseas voyage and left his fiancee in the company of the servants. Because of the improper behavior of the servants, the reputation of the royal fiancée became impugned. Her attendant arose and destroyed her wedding document. He said, “If the king gives the order to kill her for her misbehaviour, I will say to him, ‘There is no evidence that she was your wife.’ During the interim (between accusations and defenses) the king conducted an investigation and found that the improper behavior was confined to the maidservants alone. He was reconciled with his fiancée. Her attendant told the king to write his wife-to-be a new wedding document since the first one was destroyed. The king replied, “You tore it up, therefore you must acquire the fresh paper required, and I will write the new document in my own hand.” The king is God; the servants are the mixed multitudes who left Egypt. The attendant is Moses. The fiancée of is Israel. For this reason, it is said (to Moses) “Form by yourself (new tablets to replace the ones that you destroyed)…”

מדרש תנחומא (ורשא) פרשת כי תשא סימן ל ומה ראה משה לשבר את הלוחות, משל למלך שהלך למדינת הים והניח אשתו עם השפחות ומתוך שהיתה עמהם יצא עליה שם רע שמע המלך ובא ובקש להורגה, שמע שושבינה עמד וקרע כתובתה אמר אם יאמר המלך כך וכך עשתה אשתי נאמר לו עדיין אינה אשתך בדק המלך אחריה ולא מצא בה ערות דבר אלא השפחות הם היו שקלקלו, מיד נתרצה לה, א"ל שושבינה מרי עשה לה כתובה אחרת שנתקרעה הראשונה, א"ל אתה קרעת אותה לך והביא את הנייר משלך ואני כותב כתב ידי,


This is the human in sleeves- rolled-up mode. It’s a motif we know from Abraham and it fits perfectly the ‘pshat’ of the defence Moses launches to save Israel from God’s threatened destruction in the words of the Bible itself.

But what imagery!

No Rambam-aloofness.

A deeply impassioned deity - God in search of a partner.

The question is, do we have a better shot at being this partner by dedicating ourselves to the model of a sweet and winsome wife, or the model of the proactive master of chutzpah Moses?

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