Why Can’t We Hear It?
To be honest, I never really liked ritual prayers. It demands discipline, focus, consistency and, well, it takes up time. All those requisites challenged the artistic free spirit that I am. And though I’m a religious woman, I’ve stretched the leniency afforded to women regarding prayers as I’m always busy and in a rush. But my nagging feelings of guilt forced me to reckon with a question that is relevant to us all: “To where are we really rushing if G-d is not accompanying our journey?” And so, “I bit the bullet,” as they say, and started praying. Turns out that it is not a "bullet," but truly a curative time-release capsule for every soul. I was finally talking to G-d as did our fathers and their fathers before them. That dedication came with colossal expectations on my part: “G-d, I’m finally talking to you properly (and loving it), now when are you going to start talking to me?” What chutzpa! I then recalled the Yiddish expression: Mahn lernt aun lernt aun men shtarbt a nar, i.e., “Man learns and learns and dies a fool.” Because the truth is, G-d is talking to us ALL the time. The problem is that we are all hard of hearing. Watch this article on YouTube
This week, we began reading the last of the Five Books of Moses, Devarim. In English it is called, Deuteronomy. But only in Hebrew is it called what it really is, Devarim, which means both “words” and “things.” Why should we care? Because every single THING that happens to us in life is a conversation with the Almighty. Ein od milvado (There is nothing but Him). The world was created by G-d’s words and thus everything that happens in our life is the “words” of G-d manifested as “things,” i.e., happenings, incidents, sickness, a trip and fall, etc. If we want to change the course of our dialogue with the Divine, instead of turning a blind eye to the truth, perhaps it is time to give ear to what He is telling us.
When things go well for us, we walk through life sure-footedly and trust the ground beneath us. And then we have an unprecedented building collapse. Then we can’t help but pause, ponder, look up and ask “What’s going on?” Perhaps because we didn’t pay attention last year when a bolt of lightning and its accompanying roaring thunder nearly hit the Statue of Liberty we are reminded again. The visual was spectacular; The warning was in the air. For the Talmud teaches: “Thunder was created only in order to straighten the crookedness of the heart.” The global symbol of freedom and power, Lady Liberty, almost hit by the finger of G-d should have been an eye opener. Don’t be sure of anything. Fast forward one year: Almost to the day, this past week, a bolt of lightning destroyed a mural honoring the late George Floyd whose death has catapulted the trajectory of self-destruction that the USA is on currently.
Around the globe, there is one disaster after another including a third wave of Covid. As I write this, 1500 people are missing in Germany due to a storm the likes of which have not been seen since WWII. Then there is Iran with its unabated nuclear ambitions; and of course, there is the ever-growing monopoly of big tech that is controlling our minds and mouths more than G-d Himself does. My examples may appear as a hodgepodge of events for those who need the picture on the box to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. But my dear friends, as the Torah has predicted, it is G-d actually talking to us—and not in a sweet whisper.
“Is there any good news?” my brother always asks me when I forbode doom and gloom. Yes! We are still alive and we can change the trajectory with one book: The Torah. We cannot ignore G-d’s signs anymore. We’ve lost our moral grip and everything is a consequence. In no place where we stand can we forget before WHOM we stand: G-d. But we have. Yes, every single instant in our life is a conversation with G-d with the opportunity to elevate the moment from Shabbat to giving charity, to keeping kosher to behaving like a mensch. But too often--and I hate to say it--we shut Him up and instead are reactionary in the form of routine, habit, anger, jealousy, lust, laziness, apathy, greed, etc. How often His messengers and rabbis, myself included, are shut up as well, “Ok, OK it’s enough with G-d and the Torah.” Woe is us. For the sages teach that if you leave G-d for one day, He will leave you for two. Some are still crying that Elvis left the building, Surfside shows what happens when G-d does.
These past three weeks mark the saddest times in Jewish history culminating Saturday night on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of all. On that day we fast and mourn the destruction of both our Holy Temples which were destroyed because we sinned (for “lightning” surely did hit twice in the same place.) So why is that our problem? We were not there and it wasn’t we who sinned. But G-d is still talking to us, to you and to me. For the rabbis teach that each generation has to blame itself that the third Temple was not yet rebuilt. Meaning, we are sinning still. The Temple is called the place where heaven and earth kiss, where G-d and his people come together. But we are an idolatrous nation who puts everything before G-d. That certainly would ruin any relationship, try it with your wife or boss. Good luck!
I used to like the mobile phone advertisement wherein a person had to stand on the roof of his building for good reception and made popular the phrase: “Can you hear me now?” G-d is saying that same sentence. And it has me worried how many more “things” will have to occur and to what extent G-d will have to shout before we understand that He’s been talking to us the whole time. A society getting its moral codes and cues from the likes of Netflix, instead of Torah, is in very big trouble. It is time to hit the mute button on stupidity and the degenerate filth we’ve normalized. For I truly fear that the next time G-d asks again “Can you hear Me now?” it will be painfully deafening and several decibels too late. Watch it on YouTube