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Needing God: Na’aman VI Print E-mail

Rosh Hashanah‘So Naaman returned to the man of G-d’ and it doesn’t even mention Elisha by name, 'man of G-d', because its not Elisha the person, it is whom Elisha and what he represents. Naaman in his entire production; ‘he came and stood before the navi and said behold, now I know that there is no G-d in the whole world except in Israel.’

Can you imagine? He doesn’t focus on Elisha, he understands this is G-d. 'And now please accept a tribute from your servant.

But Elisha answered by the life of Hashem before whom I have stood I will not accept.' Naaman imposed upon Elisha to accept, but Elisha refused. Why? Because Elisha is a vehicle. He can't accept anything, it has nothing to do with him, it is G-d and he cannot take away from that at all.

So despite the fact that Naaman understands this to a degree because his response is now I know there is no G-d other than the G-d of Israel. But still Naaman does feel this special connection to Elisha.

And we do this. Whether it is a chassid with a rebbe, or whether it is a student with a rebbe, there are times we fall into the trap of identifying our growth with this one human being. Instead of understanding that that human being is a vehicle and only a vehicle and that the relationship is a relationship with Hashem. And anything, even giving a small gift to Elisha is a distraction from what Hashem did for Naaman. Any time we focus on the teacher, the rebbe, or the Chassidic rebbe, the tzadik, the mekubal it’s a distraction from our relationship with G-d. It’s a lack of awareness that any one of us can have that direct relationship with G-d. We do not need that person in between. And as much clarity as Naaman has that there is no G-d other than the G-d of Israel, he is still distracted by Elisha, please accept a gift. Look what you did for me. And Elisha is saying, I didn’t do anything for you, Hashem did.

So Naaman says may there at least be given to your servant two mule loads of earth for your servant will never again offer a burnt offering or a peace offering to other gods only to Hashem and may Hashem forgive your servant, forgive me Naaman, for this matter, when my master the king’s king comes to the temple of Rimon To prostrate himself there he leans on my arm. So I must bow in the temple of Rimon. May Hashem forgive your servant for this thing. So I will be holding my master, he bows down. So I will be bowing down as I am holding him, but I am not really bowing down to rimon. But if I don't do it, he will kill me.

Interesting thing. He acknowledges that there is no god other than the G-d of Israel, and he will not worship idols, but he will not convert, he will not stop serving the king of Aram and he won't risk his life. He will continue to take his master to the temple of Rimon, the idol, to worship there, and he is not willing to risk his life.

And from here we derive  a halacha that a non-Jew is not obligated to give up his life for not to serve avoda zara. And Elisha said to him, ‘go to peace’ and then Naaman travelled the stretch of land from where he began to go away. Elisha is happy. He doesn’t say to Naaman, look what happened to you, you should be converting and you should go to yeshiva, go to Aish for 2 years and then get semicha and then become an Aish rabbi and open up a branch in Aram or in Damascus. He doesn’t say to him, you have to do teshuva and never walk in to ?? of idol worship again. He says to Naaman, what you are doing is fine. Go to peace, find peace in what you are doing. He doesn’t make all sorts of demands.

Ok, so we have the basic lessons. We have listening to when G-d sends us a wake up call and when you send raiding parties and you only get one, G-d is sending a wake up call. You have the message in the simplicity of the girl. You have how to present teffilah to Hashem, the way Naaman presented his case to the king. You have Yehoran self-destruct and the parallels with our own sense of inadequacy or distance in the relationship with Hashem. We have the message of Naaman’s frustration with Elisha’s greeting and Elisha’s instructions, wanting it to be so much more complicated because we like complicated. And we have Naaman’s acknowledgment of G-d, but still that sense of I need Elisha - and he doesn’t. And then we have Naaman accepting and responding with limitation and Elisha being perfectly ok. Of course, yeh I should believe in G-d and I should be perfect and G-d should play a role and absolutely everything, but Elisha is satisfied with Naaman’s response. All of these are important lessons to prepare for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
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