This is My God and I Will...
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
The Jewish people cross the Reed Sea and sing a song of praise to God. They proudly pronounce: This is my God and ‘Ve’anveihu.’ The Talmud has two interpretations of the word ‘Ve’anveihu.’ One interpretation interprets this expression to mean: And I will beautify Him. How do we beautify God? By fulfilling his Mitzvoth in a beautiful and dignified fashion. We are to beautify the synagogue and the sukkah, purchase a beautiful etrog, etc.
The other interpretation interprets this expression to mean: And I will endeavor to emulate His ways. Just as He is kind, compassionate, forgiving, concerned for the poor, etc. so are we to be kind and compassionate. Rabbi Aharon Ziegler offers Rabbi Soloveitchik’s explanation that our responsibility is to carry out both these interpretations, but where they are in conflict we are to prioritize emulating God’s ways of kindness and compassion.
If it is a matter of spending money on a beautiful etrog or giving the extra money to another who needs it for Yom Tov meals, our priority should certainly be to emulate God’s ways and show kindness and compassion to others. Naturally, if one can afford both, then fulfilling both would be ideal. In God’s eyes showing kindness and compassion to others trumps the value of fulfilling His commands in a beautiful fashion!