And With Kindness
“I will betroth you to Me forever, I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, with justice, with kindness and with mercy. I will betroth you to Me with faithfulness and you will know Hashem” (Hosea 2:21,22)
In this week’s haftora (Hosea 2:1-22) we learn about God’s ultimate goal for Israel. The Prophet begins by describing the unfaithfulness of Israel; how we strayed after idols and foreign powers. The Prophet goes on to tell us how God will take everything away from us and we will still seek after those strange forces that we see as the source of our blessing. But this search will be futile. We will come to realize that those forces which attracted us with offers of wealth were simply mirages. We will come to the recognition that every blessing comes from God and that there is no other source of goodness.
God will then bind us to Him with the bond of betrothal. We will stand in a relationship with God that binds us to Him and Him to us in a bond that will never be broken. And this bond will be a bond of faithfulness, a bond that leads to the ultimate closeness with God; a closeness that is described as “knowing God.”
But the knowledge of God is preceded by righteousness, justice, kindness and mercy. We need to be imbued with these qualities in order to be able to stand in this eternal relationship with God.
From the context of the passage it would seem that God will grant us these qualities of justice and kindness through the suffering of exile. In our suffering we will not only learn of the futility of serving any other power aside from God. We will also learn the futility of what these powers represent; and these idols and foreign powers represent the exact opposite of righteousness, justice, kindness and mercy.
Any entity aside from God that demands our heart in worship to itself represents greed, self-centeredness and injustice. Even when we are free from idolatry, we may still be tainted with the negative qualities that the idols represent. Under the confusing influence of our own self-interest, one may attempt to serve God with wickedness, injustice, selfishness and cruelty. Our bias prevents us from identifying our activities and attitudes as wickedness, but that is how we may be approaching God.
In the end our hearts will be opened to recognize the futility of wickedness, the emptiness of injustice and the ugliness of selfishness and cruelty. Just as our hearts will recognize that no power can help us so will we recognize that selfishness cannot bring us close to Hashem. We will learn to identify evil and we will no longer be confused into thinking that self-centeredness is righteousness.
God will cleanse our heart from evil and from confusion and he will instill into our inner beings these qualities of righteousness, justice, kindness and mercy to the degree that they will remain with us permanently. When we are imbued with these qualities then we can know Him, because living these qualities is knowing God (Jeremiah 22:16).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
What an incredibly beautiful and totally undeserved promise Hashem makes in the book of Hosea. On the surface it defies all logic, but in its depth it shouts of G-d’s faithfulness. Despite the wickedness of his people and despite the harsh discipline they are going to meet, he will hold on to his promises for the sake of his righteousness.
It is so true what you say about the biases in our hearts blinding us to our wicked ways. This ties in also with your previous post on the condition of our hearts. We often turn to idols or things that are like idols to protect ourselves from uncomfortable feelings, often those things that expose our own unrighteousness, or our helplessness without Hashem. But these are always things that take away from the glory of G-d.
It is true that suffering often brings people back to a desire for kindness and justice, however there is a third factor that the prophet Micah speaks of in the following verses:
‘Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the LORD doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.
When we experience his discipline we need to humble ourselves, instead of hardening our hearts, then the qualities of kindness and justice will become part of our lives.
But even more so, what is wrong with humbling ourselves before discipline is necessary?
I know the Torah was given to Moses and the covenant was made with Israel. They accepted it. At the same time though isn’t the Torah for everyone? Every single human being? Worship one god, don’t kill, don’t steal. When it speaks of righteousness, justice, kindness and mercy it speaks to everyone. When it speaks of unfaithfulness and straying after idols and foreign powers it speaks to all of us. Isn’t it also true that the covenant is available to anyone who would convert? The covenant is available to anyone would agree to worship one god and not chase after idols and foreign powers. I understand from a historical basis, why would anyone want to convert and be a part of the covenant, after all that’s has happened. I understand the temptation to allow another to pay for my sins and the false assumption that I cannot repent, change on my own. A common alcoholic does the same thing. Name the excuse. Yet, even the common alcoholic knows he is an alcoholic and admits he is making an excuse. I understand that if you take what is called the Old Testament and add to it what is called the New Testament, even though you are forbidden to, you get something brand new. What I don’t understand and do not believe is when “name the faith” people cannot see that when you add your book, to the original book, Torah, you are changing the teaching god gave at Sinai. You are adding your own understanding, your own teaching. One plus one equals two, or three depending on the faith. Thank you for this article, I wish more would do the same.
The Torah is addressed to the Jewish people – but everyone can learn from it if they read it in that context.
sorry, I know my writing is terrrible. But that is my point. It was given to the Jewish People.
It was taught to them, not muslims, mormons, etc. They were to be a nation of priests, and charged with protecting the torah. If you want to learn the meaning of the scriptures, written or oral, you have to go to them. sure anyone can understand the 10 commandents but there are things that are hard to grasp. They alone can give the defination of the messiah, or anyone’s messiah will be the messiah. The average joe on the street cannot open up the torah and start teaching with any authority without first learning from the people who it was given to. It may get muddy for some who think because J and his apostles were jewish, but there were other times when those same jewish people at first thought someone was the messiah only to find out they were wrong. Some go as far as learning hebrew, but if i took a class in spanish, for the most part people would laugh when i talked to them. Prople from mexico dont speak the same spanish they teach here in america. i hope that makes more sence,