Friday, July 13, 2007


First Shabbos of Admonition Blogging

Last week's (special) Haftarah portion ended with God telling Jeremiah "I have accounted to your favor / the devotion of your youth". And yet for the past few weeks we've been reading Parsha after Parsha describing how much, in the youthful days of the nation of Israel, we tried and tested God. Why the discrepancy?

Well, in reality the generation of the Exodus really did show much devotion to God. They left the admitted horrors of slavery but to a completely uncertain future. While at the time, they seemed to have been testy and faithless, they, more than any generation, demonstrated great faith in God.

So why all the criticism and punishment? Well, just as a parent must punish a child and, even when the child does well, push the child to do ever better, so God had to discipline Israel in its youth. But just as a parent tells an adult offspring "ya know, you were a good kid and I miss you", so to does God remember fondly the youthful period of the nation of Israel even as, at the time, it was quite a period of trial and tribulation.

There is another lesson here as well. Some would say that during a period of trial and tribulation, we should not engage in criticism, which can be deferred until later. But it is praise that can be deferred. Constructive criticism is most needed during times of crisis. Sometimes it seems that those who would say they most love Israel or America or are most religious miss the message of the Prophets regarding national self-criticism in times of crisis: "if not now, when?"

Alas, by the standards of some today, the Prophets would be considered un-patriotic, anti-Semitic moonbats.

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