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I'll Keep Working My Way Back to You (God) with a Burning Love Inside



Published REFORMJUDAISM.ORG: 5/05/2012

In our "get-it-now" culture, we have come to expect everything we want in an instant. We are hooked on instant messaging, instant answers to our searches, even instant coffee. But what about forming a relationship with God? Can such a sacred connection be forged in an instant? Is it reasonable to expect to find God through a Google search or by coming to Temple just that one time?

The story of Nabab and Abihu warns us that when it comes to developing a relationship with God, we shouldn't rush it. We shouldn't negate the tried and true paths to God: if we do, we might end up feeling burned.

Nadav and Abihu, suggest some commentators, try the easy way to bring God near. Rather than doing the work that was required of them, rather than taking the time to understand and follow God's instructions, they jumped in with fire from their hearts alone1 and expected an instant and positive connection. They didn't follow instructions. They didn't "read the labels." They learned that relationship with God is not a "just add water" kind of thing.

As our Sages have taught, finding God takes practice, discipline, and struggle. That is why we, as Israel, are named after Jacob, our ancestor who wrestled with God. The quest for God is not easy. It demands preparation and use of the tools that our tradition provides for us. The ancient Rabbis teach us that study, prayer, and mitzvot are the essential ways for us to develop our relationship with God.

We also bring God nearer by interacting with the people in our lives with respect, trust, and love. Let's not be like Nadav and Abihu and think that we can find God in an instant. Let's do the work and find the real relationship with God we desire.

  1. Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Pentateuch with a Translation by Samson Raphael Hirsch(New York: The Judaica Press Inc, 1997), p. 407


Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1–18:30
The Torah: A Modern Commentary, pp. 858–888; Revised Edition, pp. 769–794; 
The Torah: A Women's Commentary, pp. 679–700

K’doshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27 
The Torah: A Modern Commentary, pp. 894-907; Revised Edition, pp. 797-813; 
The Torah: A Women's Commentary, pp. 701-722

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