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The Systems of the Jewish Year

The Disappointing G-d

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

The magnificent description of the Sea Splitting and then just forty days later, the prophecy of all prophesies, the Giving of the Torah to Moshe on Mt. Sinai taught the Jewish people that there were no boundaries on this Earth. Anything can happen! If G-d wills it, there is no nature and there is no separation between Heaven and Earth.

“Even a simple person at the sea saw more than the great Prophet Ezekial.” What did that simple person see? That the world belongs to G-d, and that G-d can do with it what ever He pleases. The Children of Israel also saw that G-d was willing and able to move oceans and veils for them. To this our ancestors burst out in song - they sang Shira.

In this state of Euphoria we travelled three days. The high seemed to last three days until hunger and thirst set in. There was no water, and the spring that we found was bitter and undrinkable. We complained of thirst. Where is G-d? Where are those miracles? What happened? The euphoria was replaced with disappointment.

Moshe fixed the water problem but then we became hungry. ‘We need food! What happened to our sea splitting G-d?’. G-d brought us the Manna but that too seemed to lose its impressiveness. We complained about the Manna. Throughout our journey of forty years we ate Manna. The righteous ate the Manna but so did Korach and Zimri, and so did the Jewish men that found the daughters of Moab. It ceased to be impressive.

We travelled a bit further and came upon a place called Eilam. There they found “twelve springs and seventy date trees” (15;22) The Mechilta explains that this symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel and the seventy elder leaders of our people. It would be like walking in a barren desert and finding your own initials drawn in the sand. “G-d is with us again!”

By the time they reached Mt. Sinai they learned that for the Jew there are two realities. We can be entirely above nature; or we can be governed by its laws. We can be like the ‘Stars of the Heaven’ but we can also be like the ‘Sand of the Earth’.

In the desert we were exposed to the reality of being a Jew. We can suffer the Holocaust and even before we begin to brush off its dust, we experience G-d’s gift of the State of Israel. Even as we are dispersed amongst the nations we are experiencing an ingathering of the exiles.

In the desert we did not learn to rely on miracles; rather we learned to rely on G-d.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslav commented, “Personally, I prefer a G-d that I don’t understand, to a G-d that thinks like me.”

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