Parshat Yitro: Goodness as freedom (II)
“And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness that the Lord had done to Israel, in that He had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 18:9)
We must understand that the Exodus from Egypt was indeed an act of God’s loving kindness, as Jethro acknowledged in this verse. This invites us to reflect, not only on God’s goodness to Israel but on all that He does in the ways He relates to His creation. Thus we learn that correcting wrong doings and evil deeds are part of the same principle.
In this context, we understand the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God commands us to remove evil from our midst, in order to make goodness prevail, for goodness is what He wants in His creation. Hence this is the lesson we came to learn in this world.
The Torah tells us the ways and attributes by which God relates to us (Exodus 34:6-7), and by which we know Him. Thus we realize that goodness is the ruling principle by which we are destined to live and approach all situations and circumstances every moment in what we discern, think, feel, say and do.
In the context of the Exodus, God’s widely revealed goodness as the universal messenger and message for humankind to realize that as long as we live by, in, with and for goodness, God’s goodness will be also with us.
In Judaism, the Creator manifests as a ruling or reigning principle, for He does not have form, shape or body, and is unfathomable by human discernment. Hence we see the multiple and recurrent allegories in the Hebrew Bible as the King that reigns over His creation. We also have repeated that goodness as the messenger and the message is our bond with God.
In this bond, we realize that as long as we allow goodness to direct and guide our discernment, thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions, we enable our consciousness to enter the higher realms of God’s goodness. Thus we understand the final redemption and the Messianic era according to Judaism, as a time and space where evil does not exist and only goodness rules all aspects and expressions of life.
We mention often that the man who better understood and learned the Torah was King David, who realized in his perception and comprehension that God is good. This is not meant as a definition or conception of the Creator, but an obvious conclusion based on His ways and attributes. Hence we must thank Him for the goodness with which He constantly sustains and nurtures His creation, and He wants it to prevail in this world.
As we celebrate twice a day His deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt, we underscore His goodness behind His deeds, as the Psalmist invites us to praise Him.
“[Give thanks to Whom] smote Egypt on their first born, for His loving kindness is eternal. And brought out Israel from among them, for His loving kindness is eternal. With a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, for His loving kindness is eternal. To Him who divided the Red Sea in sunder, for His loving kindness is eternal. And made Israel to pass through the midst of it, for His loving kindness is eternal. And overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Sea of Reeds, for His loving kindness is eternal.” (Psalms 136:10-15)