Following the theme of this week’s double parsha, the haftorah concerns blessings and curses. For the idolater, Jeremiah warns, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man” and relies on mortal flesh for his strength. Jeremiah asks us, “can a man make gods for himself?” For those who put their trust and faith in a higher power, we’re promised that “in the year of the drought (we) will not be anxious.” Jeremiah tells G-d will “search the heart and test the kidney’s, to give according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
In the haftorah, the prophets often forewarn of the perils of idolatry. In 2013 it probably doesn’t feel like that’s terribly relevant since few of us are worshipping little, but as I drive through my city or wander through the university district—it doesn’t take a particularly astute observer to notice we’re all paying homage (if not arguably enslaved by) our cell phones. We’re not bringing gold to shrines, but we’re certainly plopping down plastic for our favorite brands. We might not be doing little rain dances so the cloud gods may provide us rain, but often we look to politicians to solve an increasingly large number of our problems—social, financial, even moral.
In 2013 I think idolatry looks like wonton consumerism and apathetic citizenship. We have put a lot of reliance on mortal flesh—give me this, do this, solve this, make this easy for me, don’t make me think. When the people, companies and governments we assume will provide for us and meet our needs do not or cannot, certainly we are anxious in the year of the drought. Surely this recession has illustrated that lesson.
My business partner often references an aphorism is Lebanese father said frequently, “trust in Allah, but tie your camel.” Personal responsibility is a component of faith—“the fruit of our deeds,” whereas “reliance on mortal flesh” is a sure way to be left wounded, scared, and confused when people don’t provide you with all you expected. The challenge is recognizing the difference.
Casey (Kefira) McCarty is a published author living in Ohio. She is the Assistant Director of the Columbus Idea Foundry, a community workshop space, and is an artisan who crafts jewelry, Judaica and fine art available online and in Central Ohio galleries and boutiques. You can find her online shop at www.sinemetudesigns.etsy.com