Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Why do we love coercion?

We have lots of midrashim that describe maamad har Sinai as a moment of agreement or consent. Israel is a bride. God is an old man full of mercy.

On the other side we have one midrash that imagines the Sinai moment as one of coercion. God held a mountain over our heads! And even though we have amoraim, rishonim, and achronim who express real discomfort over this possibility that we were forced to accept the Torah this image of Sinai as both a moment and a tool of coercion is still the one that prevails in the popular imagination. Among the masses all the consent midrashim and the objections of the bold names to the idea of coercion have been forgotten. What remains is this idea that God forced us to accept the Torah.

Is there perhaps a psychologist in the audience who can help us understand why modern jews- or at least the ones I know -  are so attached to this picture of a big bully God?

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