Thursday, July 19, 2007

Question & Answer With Yitz Of A Waxing Wellspring: Miracles & Complaints

(Picture courtesy of

A Simple Jew asks:

Each year as we review the Chumash, we continue to be baffled by just how quickly the Jews started complaining after they witnessed miracles as they left Egypt and crossed through the Yam Suf.

One could argue that we too are often blind to recognize the continuous miracles that Hashem performs in each of our lives, yet the miracles in the Chumash seem to us to be on a much grander scale than those in our lives.

We may ridicule the Jews in the desert for their lack of emuna, but then when we turn around and judge ourselves by a similar standard, do we measure up to our standard, or are we also just a bunch of wandering complainers?

Yitz of A Waxing Wellspring answers:

I think the simplest and truest answer to the question is this. Both now and in the desert, we very rarely lose faith in HaShem, if we are familiar with Him at all, then we generally trust that He will deliver on His promises. We are far less trusting in ourselves. This was our mortal flaw back to Avraham Avinu who feared that, after overcoming the four kings and rescuing Lot, he had used up all of his merit and was in danger. Similarly Yaakov Avinu echoed Avraham's concerns after Shimon and Levi wiped out Shechem. He feared the other nations would gang up and wipe him out.

Moshe Rabeinu himself expressed the same mortal flaw, he asked HaShem to choose someone else to lead Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzraim, because he was not worthy.

Shaul HaMelech spoke similarly about the kingship.

Throughout all of the generations of leaders of the Jewish People, our greatest leaders have almost without exception shied away from the responsibility not because of a lack of trust in HaShem, but rather because of their small opinion of themselves.

David HaMelech was unique in that he made similar claims about his insignificance but always prayed to HaShem to help him all the same. The Noam Elimelech says "HaShem Ro'i Lo Echsar" is a plea to HaShem to shepherd the people for David so that David himself should never have to leave HaShem's presence. He explains that normally a Tzaddik has to leave HaShem's presence and connect to the world in order to bring down blessing into the world. David HaMelech asked HaShem, "Couldn't you bring down the blessing so that I never need to leave your presence?"

What can we learn from this? Well, for starters Rebbe Nachman teaches (along with the rest of Chazal) that the Yetzer Hara tries in every way possible to make us sad, to feel bad about ourselves and our past actions. If the Yetzer succeeds at this point, well we're back where we started. But, if we press onwards and as Rebbe Nachman teaches, find the good points in ourselves, then we can move forward in our avodat HaShem.

Later on, there comes a time when hubris, ga'avah, is a problem, but for starters we need to believe in ourselves. Actually this transition is, I think, one of the hardest transitions for a Ba'al Teshuvah to make. In the beginning we need ironclad self-confidence to pursue HaShem in all of our endeavors no matter what. Later on we need to learn to doubt and question ourselves, avoid anger, recognize our low level and call out to HaShem from that place.

I think it's easy to see, that since we are human, a fusion of a Godly soul and a mortal body, just as our ancestors in the desert, it's so easy for us to fall into self-doubt. No matter how great HaShem's revelations are, it's us, the little finite beings, that are the weak link in the chain. In fact, the more revealed HaShem is, the harder the challenge might be, when you wonder how you could possibly live up to the responsibility of all the blessing you are receiving from HaShem?

We need to take a page out of David HaMelech's book, or take the whole book, Tehillim, and learn how to pray like David HaMelech, that HaShem should take over for us, so that we never have to leave His presence.


At July 19, 2007 at 9:11:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Great answer. Tehillim is a fountain of knowledge.


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