הצור תמים פעלו
כי כל דרכיו משפט
אל אמונה ואין עול
צדיק וישר הוא

“The Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His acts are Just.
A faithful G-d, Who’s never wrong,
Right and fair is He.” [1]

In my previous post (borrowed from Chabad.org), the writer recorded the report of an anonymous source — a woman who had grown up in a dysfunctional family, in which the parents were ultimately divorced, but who had progressed in emunah far enough to accept even her sad experiences as G-d’s Will for the Good. Doing so, she found peace. She quotes the above verse from parshah Ha’azinu as a statement of her faith.

Quoting a Biblical verse as a statement of faith is more common among Christians than Jews, I think. Especially among Protestants. I’ve seen Muslim writers quote verses of the Qu’ran the same way. “Having faith” is an essential feature of Christianity. It’s a vital part of Judaism as well, but less recognized as such. Because it’s less emphasized among Jews, we don’t tend to read Torah/Chumash/TaNaCh for inspiration. “Learning Torah” typically means learning what to “do,” or learning an interpretation for greater comprehension. Reading a chumash, we’re more likely to look at commentaries and explanations than to apply the verses to our own lives. In fact, most Jews don’t read Torah/Chumash outside of synagogue at all. Our learning most often takes place in public reading of  Torah, sermons and classes. Quoting Torah in the context of “faith” is unusual.

Yet, there’s nothing wrong with it. Far from it. I think it would be wonderful to increase private, personal reading of Torah. The Conservative movement introduced the “Perek Yomi” program some years ago, in which sections of TaNaCh are read consecutively and daily, until the entire TaNaCh is read after 2-1/2 years. [2] I don’t know if the Reform movement does anything similar, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t and wouldn’t, simply in the interests of Jewish Education, if nothing else. But again, these studies are mostly for informational purposes. Hasidic commentaries are more inspirational but generally available in English only to a limited degree; even then, the language is archaic to most contemporary Jews.

Much of what we get from reading Torah depends on why we do it. The writer chose the verse to describe intensified faith. It suggests that she read the verse (and others, I’m sure) to find, increase or support her emunah. I, myself, had never read this verse this way. I took it in context as part of Mosheh’s introductory proclamation about G-d. The writer’s source excerpted it as an affirmation of her own personal faith. It was both something she spoke to herself, and something that had validity for her based on its Biblical source.

One could almost see this verse as an interpretation — more: a kavannah — for when we recite the Shema (and carry it into our saying of the Amidah). It could have been  a “kavannah” when offering a korban. But it certainly stands on its own, too.

What if we said this to ourselves, in addition to looking at commentaries for interpretations of each word? What if we held this in our minds as the message of Torah to us, when we question the “rightness” of whatever is happening to us? What if we held Torah’s viewpoint as the valid one, and our own doubts and fears and anxieties as the outcomes of our own mistaken perceptions? What if we memorized this verse, to say it to ourselves when we need to place G-d’s Will over our own?

We might have to “wrestle” with this, like Yakov wrestling with the angel. [3]

When we recognize G-d as “The Rock” — the ongoing source of all creation; the unchanging, utterly stable Peace that underlies the hurricanes of change that we face in our circumstances and, especially, in our thoughts and feelings — then we’ll also know that “His work is perfect.”

If we accept that “His work is perfect,” and harmonize our view — our will — with His, we’ll come to experience G-d as “The Rock” — as a Source of stability not only in our circumstances, but in our minds and hearts.

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[1] D’varim/Deut. 32:4 (my own translation)

[2] http://www.uscj.org/LearningandTeaching/DailyStudyMaterials/PerekYomi_AChapteraDay_/

[3] Bereishith/Gen. 32:25-21