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    Confrontations with God – Mishpatim

    Amongst the laws of Mishpatim is the sentence, Kol almanah v’yatom lo t’anun – “You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan” (Ex. 22:21).

    On reading this verse it is said that Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev burst into tears and confronted God:

    “On so many occasions the Torah demands in Your name that no-one shall afflict the orphan. But what about Your people Israel?

    “In Echah (5:3) it says that we are orphans. Why do You not obey Your own commandment and redeem Your people from bitter exile?”

    Confronting God in this way is somewhat impertinent, certainly. But our people have a long history of confronting Him and questioning His government of the universe.

    It has happened from Abraham, who said, “Shall the Judge of all the earth not act justly?”(Gen. 18:25), up to the days of the Holocaust; “You, God,” said one of the martyrs in anger or tears, “You are doing everything You can to stop me believing in You. But I give You notice: it will not work. Nothing You do will stop my belief in You!”

    Judaism asserts that man and God are partners in the completion of the work of creation. They have a covenant: “You will be My people, and I will be your God”. Since God has dignified us with the privilege of being His co-workers, we are sure He understands that we want a say in the management of the project.

    But just as we insist on being heard, so does He.

    When He feels we are not keeping our side of the bargain, He tells us so.

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