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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Why Didn’t the Bush Burn? (Shemos)

By Rabbi Sender Haber

Hashem appeared to Moshe in the Bush because a Bush is a lowly shrub. It symbolizes humility.

The Torah tells us that the Angel of Hashem appeared as a fire burning in the bush, but the bush was not consumed.

Moshe said, “Let me turn for a minute and take a look. Why isn’t the Bush consumed?”

What was the answer? We are accustomed to thinking that the Bush turned out to be a heavenly fire and therefore did not follow the rules of regular fire, but the Noam Elimelech writes and interesting idea.

One would think that a holy fire would wipe out something as unholy as a bush. One would think that holy activities would bring us to a level purity where the mundane world cannot enter.

It seems unfair when we are davening and the most random of thoughts comes in, or when we spend an hour studying Torah just to lose our tempers five minutes later. Moshe was bothered with the question: Why doesn’t the bush burn? Why don’t we ever seem totally free of our Yetzer Hora.

The answer is simple. The bush doesn’t burn. We always remain somewhat worldly. We never become angels. Maybe this is so that we elevate our worldliness and use it to serve Hashem, maybe it is to keep us challenged, but the fact remains. The Bush just simply doesn’t burn.

Hashem didn’t really answer Moshe’s question, but he did tell him to take off his shoes. The very first command Hashem gave Moshe. By taking off his shoes Moshe understood that he needed to feel every thorn and thistle on the ground if he was to truly help the Jewish people and grow as an individual.

We keep waiting for the holiness to root out and consume everything else, but it will never happen. This was the lesson of the burning bush.

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