We all know about the “big” Hollywood-worthy biblical events – the Flood, the splitting of the sea, the revelation at Sinai. These are the ways in which G-d intervenes in the physical world, with sounds and lights and fury.
But the Torah really only mentions those things by way of explaining how the Torah came into being in the first place: the Flood explains how G-d reacts to a world of pure violence and evil, just as the splitting of the sea was a national birth for the Jewish People, and Sinai represents the giving of the Torah itself. These events, as dramatic and exciting as they were, still were only a means to an end, a way of helping us understand how we each can have an ongoing and growing relationship with each other and with our Creator.
Or to put it another way: Sinai may have marked the wedding between man and G-d, but the rest of human existence is what matters the most, just as a married couple’s success is reflected by the joy they find in each other years and decades after they first met, not the deliciousness of the canapés at their wedding.
So where is G-d found in the world today? Or more precisely: where can we hear G-d in our world? The Torah answers this question not by waxing poetic on the song of the skylark or a waterfall. Instead, it tells us something that is far more beautiful and elusive, even though it is theoretically within the reach of every adult.
First, let’s set the scene. The “big” events have already happened – the Exodus, Sinai, the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, created so that G-d could tangibly exist “among” the people, had just been finished. There is much pomp and circumstance, culminating in offerings from the head of each tribe.
And then what happens?
When Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would hear the Voice addressing him from above the cover that was on top of the Ark of the Pact between the two cherubim; thus, He spoke to him. (Num. 8:89)
After all the buildup, G-d speaks – from open air. But not just any open air: G-d’s voice comes from between the two angels on top of the ark. The symbolism is far, far deeper than one might realize
it at first, and here is why:
The angels, the cherubim, are male and female. They represent both the love and desire between G-d and His people, and the love between man and wife. These male-and-female angels are reaching for each other, (according to some opinions, embracing each other).
Think about that for a second: after all the buildup to create the tabernacle, G-d does not appear in a lightning storm or on top of a mountain. Those “big” events were one-off spectacles. In day-to-day life, we come to understand that G-d is found in marital desire. It is the love between husband and wife that makes it possible for us to relate to – and listen to – G-d’s voice.
The Torah is chock full of similar references to the importance of marriage in being able to connect with G-d: to cite but one example, it is the reason why the High Priest had to be married to hold that office.
In Judaism, G-d is not found in nature. We do not find G-d by communing with a tree. G-d’s voice can be heard wherever and whenever a husband and wife love each other. I think that is pretty amazing.
[Another @iwe and @susanquinn production]