Rabbi Zaltzman on Parashah Ki Tavo

(Wikimedia Commons photo)

Throughout history, including today, people and cultures have tried to falsely hijack the mantle of divinity in their quest for conquest or higher purpose. But, interestingly, the Torah actually instructs us to emulate God.

What is that supposed to mean? We are limited, finite beings. How are we supposed to follow in the ways of an all-powerful, infinite Creator? Isn’t that setting the bar a little too high for us mere mortals?

The talmudic sages suggest that we should emulate God’s character traits, such as infinite kindness and undying mercy, and not be satisfied with the limited, human version of these virtues.

Maimonides takes this idea even further. A careful examination of his teachings reveals that it is not only the qualities themselves that should be emulated, but also (and more so) the manner in which they manifest. Our characteristics tend to emerge as emotional or instinctual reactions to different situations, and quite often they are uncontrolled and spontaneous. With the Creator, this is obviously not the case. Each act, quality and virtue is thoughtful, considerate and meticulously measured. We should strive to make our personal qualities and responses more like that.

If it sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is, as it means becoming more divine and tapping into the depth and power of the divine soul. The good news is that we’re getting there, and we can see it in areas as diverse as education, geopolitics, philanthropy and even business. As humanity evolves to a more redemptive state, we are more able to develop and express this higher, more refined and spiritually aware part of ourselves, both individually and collectively. In a sense, if you want to imagine what the days of Mashiach will feel like, imagine a critical mass of people living in this elevated state – definitely something to look forward to, and to be working on in our daily lives.