The 13 attributes of God, in Hebrew called the middot, can be found in Exodus 34:6. Two biblical chapters after the Israelites commit the grave sin of building a golden calf and worshipping in its midst.
The Talmud explains that God gave Moses a way to appease divine anger by reciting these attributes and since then, Jewish people have had access to a special way appeal to God to forgive our sins. We recite these holy words at auspicious times when we hope to find God ready to accept us with love.
However, we are not always in the right place to be loving. Devorah explores righteous anger that may be holding us back from forgiveness and a clean slate.
The 13 middot demonstrate that is not anger that we should be afraid of, but rather its excesses. As God models turning back from excessive anger, so too can we follow this example. The 13 middot show us the way.
Exodus 34:6 וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת ׀
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed: “The LORD! the LORD! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, [Sefaria]
Psalm 27 Verse. 3 “Should war besiege me, still I would not be afraid; should an army encamp against me, in this would I put my trust.“ Devorah contemplates her time in Iraq as she drives a truck through a dark moonlit road. How can we navigate between fear and trust when we are face to face with our own fragility?
Thanks to David Meyersberg for blowing the shofar in today’s recording and his son Charles for making sure it got to us. We will use this shofar blast throughout the rest of Elul.
Hineni.Space posts brief daily offerings (Elul meditations, reflections, poetry, and melodies). There is a tradition to hear the shofar every day of the month of Elul and to recite the verses of Psalm 27.