929 Rabbi Lauren Tuchman Isaiah 46 reflection

December 26, 2019

This reflection originally appeared as part of the 929 Project, the study of a chapter of the Jewish Bible or Tanakh each day.


Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the fall of the Babylonian Gods are presented in stark contrast to the constancy, unfaltering G-d of Israel. Unlike the fickle, faltering G-ds of the Babylonians, the one G-d of Israel remains with the People of Israel throughout their lifespan, even when they transgress or are far from G-d. We are part of something greater than ourselves, beyond time, space and generation, Isaiah reminds us. Though the juxtaposition Isaiah presents here might jar some modern readers, I urge an attitude of productive discomfort here. While we could read this perek as a celebration of the downfall of Israel’s enemies, we might also read this as a reflection upon the ways in which we place the needs of our ego, our own individual need for constant striving, above the truth that we are all bound together, part of a larger whole. In a world in which we make idols out of any number of ultimately temporal things—fame, wealth, personal status—and in which the desire to place those we admire or wish to emulate upon a pedestal is quite strong, Isaiah’s imploring us to remember always that we are part of something so much larger than ourselves. That reminder is both a humbling and challenging one. Even when we find ourselves far from G-d, G-d is there, a constant, yearning for our wholehearted return. Our lives are filled with piques and valleys, joy and sorrow, trial and triumph. Amidst all of that, we have the ability and are indeed encouraged to return, every day, to a remembrance, a sense, that we are part of something much larger, that there is none other than the divine reality of which we are all a part.


Rabbi Lauren Tuchman is a Jewish educator based in the Washington, DC area.




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