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The Crown of Halacha

Shemos 5778 – Can We Understand Hashem?

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the series Bereishis 5778

Can We Understand Hashem?

So Moshe returned to Hashem and said, “Hashem! Why have You harmed this people? Why have You sent me? Since I have come to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has harmed this people, and You have not saved Your people.” (Shmos 5:22-23)
Why Does Hashem Give Moshe a Harsh Response?
And Hashem said to Moshe, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a mighty hand he will send them out, and with a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.” (6:1)

By Definition We Cannot Understand Hashem

According to Rashi the exchange is as follows:

Now you will see, etc.: You have questioned My ways [of running the world, which is] unlike Avraham, to whom I said, “For in Yitzchak will be called your seed” (Berashis 21:12), and afterwards I said to him, “Bring him up there for a burnt offering” (22:2), yet he did not question Me. Therefore, now you will see. What is done to Pharaoh you will see, but not what is done to the kings of the seven nations when I bring them [the children of Israel] into the land [of Israel]. — [from Sanh. 111a]

The Challenge: Go Against Your Nature

At the end of our Parsha Moshe Rabbenu challenges, “You created me to do only good for the Jewish nation, so why is bad coming as a result of my actions?”

Hashem said to Moshe, “Because you are scrutinizing my ways you will see what happens to Pharaoh” – implying that Moshe will not see what happens in the war of the 31 Kings against Bnei Yisrael and therefore will not be able to rejoice at attaining Eretz Yisrael.

Change Comes By Looking Beyond Yourself

Why did Moshe feel that he had a “right” to complain? Why did Hashem answer so harshly and give such a heavy punishment? Why did Hashem lament for the days of our Avos?

One answer our commentators give is that Moshe understood that he was created to do good for the Jewish people. Therefore, if the Jews were to suffer as a result of his intervention, his complaint was that Hashem should choose a different shaliach.
However, by complaining, Moshe rebelled. Hashem longed for our Avos, who subjected themselves totally to Hashem’s will, despite what seemed to contradict with who they were and what they understood.

Changing One’s Middos Is the Ultimate Tikun

What did the Avos have that Moshe did not?

The Avos went against their human nature, as Rashi points out; Avraham was commanded to bring Yitzchak as a korban. For Avraham, the epitome of kindness, sacrificing Yitzchak was against his merciful nature. This commandment also seemed to completely contradict Hashem’s promise that Avraham’s offspring would inherit Eretz Yisroel. Yet, he did what was asked of him without question. Our Avos broke their middos and expressed no doubts in their service of Hashem.

Moshe Rabbenu was given rebuke for not overcoming his natural tendencies in service of Hashem. Although he was created to do good, which he did to the best of his ability, it was not a complete service to Hashem. The highest form of avodah is when one breaks his own nature, even if this seemingly goes against what we believe to be beneficial or a true expression of ourselves. Through this level of dedication miracles can surely be wrought.

Emunah is a Game Changer

There’s an old saying, “I don’t want to believe in a God that I can understand.” If we understand all of Hashem’s actions that puts Hashem on the same level that we are on. Knowing that Hashem is greater than we are means that we have to change our middos in order to grow. The way to change is through emunah, believing that Hashem is a kind, all merciful God, who loves us more than we can ever know. Even when we are in pain has a place in our lives, though we may never know the reason while we are alive. And because pain hurts, we’re expected to ask, “Why is this happening?” With emunah we can say it’s for the best even though we may not know why.

Series Navigation<< Vayachi 5778 – Fight With All Your PrayerVa’eira 5778 – Heading Along A Crash Course >>
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