God constantly wants things from us. An example is the verse in this week’s portion, “Now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God want from you, other than to revere the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 10:12).
I have often wondered what would happen if the verse were written the other way, telling God what we humans wanted from Him. What would we say?
Maybe, “Now, O Lord our God, what do your children want from You, other than to protect Your children, to keep them safe, them and their children: to love them, and to bless them with every spiritual and material blessing”?
God would probably answer, “But that is what I do already!”
We would say, “Yes, but You don’t always show the love, support and blessing in the way we want. You seem to let the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer, You send us blessings but not always when we want them and in the amounts we desire, You promise us Your protection but we often feel bereft in the cold and dark, waiting for Your intervention which is late when it comes…”.
The conversation could go on for ever. The problem is that we don’t find it easy to understand the way He governs His universe.
I once turned the discussion into a Yom Kippur sermon in which I asked, “What would happen if we decided to advertise for another God? Just theoretically of course, but would we get a different deal from another God?”
Last week I heard a rabbi speak about another side of the question, “If we ran the world, would we do it better?”
The rabbi’s answer to his own musing was, “If we were God and we ran the world, we probably wouldn’t do it differently. We would still be too small and ephemeral to grasp the higher levels of world management.”
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev used to have these conversations with God all the time. He once said something which would probably resonate with all of us, “God, I don’t ask You to let me run the world. I don’t even ask You to explain why I suffer. I only ask You to assure me that the suffering is for Your sake!”