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Mirroring God

10/20/2021 02:47:08 PM

Oct20

When I was a camper at Ramah Darom, I remember a program about the Birkot Hashachar blessings that are said as part of the morning service. That day, instead of reciting the series of short blessings, one after another, we instead made our way to activity stations that were each focused on specific blessings. One in particular that stands out in my mind was an activity for the blessing about God removing sleep from our eyes and slumber from our eyelids. At this station, a counselor took a gentle water-gun and sprayed our eyes with water, causing us to rub our eyes and remove the slumber and sleepy-seeds from the corner of our eyes. But this station caused me to pause and think. Each day, it wasn’t God who removed the eye-boogers from the corner of my eyes; rather, it was me! And come to think of it, it wasn’t God who made me stretch, and it wasn’t God who got me dressed, and it wasn’t God who opened my eyes; it was me! So why do we go about thanking God for all of these things that we are doing ourselves?

I think part of the answer is reflected in the Talmud’s commentary on this week’s Torah portion, Vayera. Our sages ask what the Torah means when it says we must walk in God’s ways (Deuteronomy 13:5). After all, the Torah says that “the Lord is a devouring fire!” (Deuteronomy 4:24) Wouldn’t walking after God be quite risky and dangerous? Rather, our sages teach that to walk in God’s ways means to take after the attributes of God. Just as God is compassionate, we too ought to be compassionate. One example of God’s compassion comes in this week’s portion when God visits Abraham at the start of the parshah. Our tradition notes that this visit comes right after the commandment of circumcision, and thus God’s visit is not seen as random, but rather as a visit to the sick. The Talmud explains, just as God visits Abraham after his circumcision, so too should we visit the sick (Sotah 14a). Thus, our actions are best when they mirror the attributes of God. However, when we say the morning blessings, why do we reflect our own actions back on God?

Perhaps, these two questions are two sides of the same coin. By emulating God’s actions, we are acknowledging our capacity to do holy work here on Earth. Similarly, when we say a blessing and attribute our own actions to God, perhaps we are elevating our own mundane experiences to a holier level and acknowledging that we are partners with God. How much more meaning can be added into our lives if we saw not only the capacity we have towards doing God’s work, but also that all of our actions ought to be reflections of God as well? As we reflect on this portion, it is my prayer that we can become more aware of the holiness in all aspects of our lives, and that we can continue to be mirrors of God – always. 

Shabbat Shalom

Fri, December 3 2021 29 Kislev 5782