Judging Laws

        Monday of the First Week of Lent

This morning’s reading is from Leviticus. the Book of Laws. In fact, 27 chapters of laws.

That’s a lot of laws!

And I pondered how often one or two laws from that book get pulled out and emphasized to the exclusion of all others.

That’s often what we do with religion: we scrape off the piece we want and leave the rest behind.

For example, throughout Leviticus, the injunction to “fear God” arises. People say it a lot, but I always wonder what that means. “Fear God” because of possible punishment? Possible destruction? Why would I want to follow a God who promised destruction and punishment?

Perhaps, I though, my idea of fear was misplaced. Perhaps it meant something. These Leviticus laws were written thousands of years ago, perhaps as many as 5 or 6 thousand. So I looked up the word “fear” in my trusty American Heritage Dictionary which led me to the Indo-European root per (Indo-European being the earliest root of many languages).

Per, as you might imagine after all these centuries, has a developed into many words, but at base were movement words, including to walk all the way around as if you were walking around a mountain. I like the idea that “fear God” means to walk around God, to look at God from many angles and many different sides. To see the Holy from many different perspectives.

If we really saw the holy from many different directions, it might be hard to judge others for their behavior.

Today, practice looking at others’ behaviors from many different angles. Today, notice where an automatic judgment arises.

Is it difficult to substitute looking for judging?


6 thoughts on “Judging Laws

  1. Janet,
    I’m following your Lenten reflections and making them a part of my own Lenten practice this year.
    On “fear of God” — I’ve been told that “fear” in this context really means “awe.” We should stand in awe of the divine, which is so much more than we can fathom.
    Since none of us can know the divine, perhaps we should walk around it and look from many angles, in hopes of learning just a bit more.
    Thank you for these posts.

  2. Helpful insight–this understanding of fear suggests we pay attention–far better than cowering or pacing or running scared or cranking up the adrenaline–just wake up, open our eyes and really look at all angles.

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