October 4, 2023

Sometimes my mind sees a connection; an image in the shadows, a distortion in the mirror, a glimpse of the Multiverse – and I’m not talking Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness… or am I? A few weeks ago I was on the couch mindlessly channel surfing as I happened to land on 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz”, just as actor Frank Morgan (OZ, aka Professor Marvel, The Gatekeeper and The Guard) uttered those famous words, “I am Oz the Great and Powerful“. Suddenly I had a feeling of déjà vu; why are those words so familiar? The following Shabbat I heard those same words within Parashat Kedoshim; “Ani Adonai“, I am G-D the Great and Powerful!

Parashat Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1–20:27) is a fountain, overflowing with wise words of wisdom to live by. It tells us to care for the poor, be honest and never take revenge or bear a grudge. We are told to keep Shabbat and instructed what foods we are permitted to eat. We are told how to guard our relationships, treat our animals and harvest our fields. Parashat Kedoshim includes what Rabbi Akiva called the core message of the entire Torah, “Love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).  

Did you know the words Ani Adonai (“I am God”) appear 20 times in Parashat Kedoshim? Why? Why not? This deliberate repetition is a clue to the deeper, hidden meaning within. Ani Adonai is an introduction from G-d and an invitation to holiness. Through these words, Adonai is speaking directly to us, not through an intermediary but in the first person. G-d is inviting us to live a life that is about more than just following rules and doing what is right. We are being invited into a direct relationship with the divine. 

Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (Shlomo Yitzhaki), known as Rashi (based on an acronym of his Hebrew initials), commented on several of these 20 unique introductions from G-d. “Ani Adonai – I am G-d”, can be seen as a warning, a reminder that G-d can and will punish. “Ani Adonai” is also a promise; you can depend on me to keep you safe. Sometimes “Ani Adonai” is a reminder that G-d knows everything, even our deepest secrets. “Ani Adonai” is a reminder that we are never truly alone.

Each revelation of the divine carries a unique flavor and meaning. The G-d we experience in our most difficult and stressful moments is different from the G-d we experience in times of joy. The G-d we encounter at the edge of a waterfall differs from the G-d revealed when you look into the eyes of a newborn baby. The G-d who emerges in a moment of deep guilt is different from the G-d we feel when a loved one dies. To know the G-d of Parashat Kedoshim is to understand G-d as ever-changing. G-d is dynamic and transitional, depending upon what we are doing and what G-d needs us to learn at that very moment. To live a life of holiness is to see that each moment of our lives brings a unique opportunity to experience the sacred. This invitation is directly intertwined with the laws that govern our behavior, just as the Earth 616 is directly intertwined with its counterparts throughout the multiverse. Every action we take in every area of our lives is an opportunity to pierce the veil of darkness, seek holiness and be part of G-d’s plan. 

Some people cannot imagine a multiverse, just as some never see G-d’s presence in this world. Others experience the world as full of holiness, encountering revelation at every turn. Most of us fall somewhere in between, hoping to catch a glimpse of the divine. As Frank Morgan said, “I know I’m not the wizard you expected, but I might be the wizard that you need. Fear me not good people of Oz, fear me not, for it is I, the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.” Ani Adonai.

This tidbit of Torah is brought to you by the Florida Region of the FJMC. We serve the needs of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods across the State of Florida from the Panhandle to Miami. If you are not yet affiliated with the Federation, then today is the day to join us. Get to know more about the FJMC Florida Region and our growing statewide network of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods at www.floridaregionfjmc.org and please visit and LIKE our Florida Region FJMC Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/FloridaRegionFJMC.

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