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Two Minutes of Torah: Devarim - Carried by God

One of the phrases that our daughter Gabby likes to say is “Pick me up.” She can of course walk and often we’ll push her in the stroller, but she likes to be picked up and carried when we’re going from place to place. Right now as I’m recording this podcast, we’re at URJ’s Green Family Camp, in Bruceville, TX and with the heat outside, Gabby has said “Pick me up” more often than normal.

We as parents have a responsibility to carry our children until they are able to walk, but it’s also interesting to know that God appears to carry us as well. In this week’s Torah portion of Devarim, as Moses begins his farewell address to the Israelites on the other side of the Jordan, we get a little bit of a recap of our peoples journey – how we left Mount Sinai, how Moses set up judges over all the people and then how we have the incident of the spies going out to the Land and bringing back their report.

When Moses retells this story, he says that it was him who said to the people “Have no dread or fear of them. None other than Adonai your God, who goes before you, will fight for you – just as God did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes – and in the wilderness where you saw how Adonai your God carried you, as a man carries his son – all the way that you traveled until you came to this place.” In these 2 images, we see the 2 sides of God. On the one hand, God is the warrior fighting for us – the one who brought us out of slavery in Egypt, who brought plagues and miracles so we could go free – but alongside this, we have the picture of God as a loving parent, carrying us just as a parent carries their child – all the way through the wilderness, for past 40 years.

As we read this Torah portion, we therefore gain an insight into the dual relationship we have with God. There is the God of Force and the God of Might, but there is also the God of Parental Love. \

As we approach our high holy day season, when we refer to God as Avinu Malkanu -  our Parent and our Ruler, we see in that prayer, the 2 sides of God. Often we focus too much on the powerful God, bringing miracles, plagues, and smiting down those who oppose God. It’s also important to remember the loving God, the parental God – the one who carried us for 40 years throughout our time in the wilderness and who in many ways, continues to carry us today. 

We have this dual relationship with God. Sometimes we want God to go before us and sometimes we simply need God to be there to pick us up, to carry us, and to love us.

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