Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Lord's Struggle...

Chapter 14, verse 2

"If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this Wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this Land to die by the sword? Our wives and young children will be taken captive! Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?"
So they said to one another, "Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt!"

Verse 11

Hashem said to Moses, "How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will they not have faith in Me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with the plague and annihilate them, and I shall make you a greater and more powerful nation than they."

Moses said to Hashem, "Then Egypt, from whose midst You brought up this nation with Your power, will hear, and they will say about the inhabitants of this Land, 'They have heard that You, Hashem, are in the midst of this people -- that You, Hashem, appeared eye to eye and Your cloud stands over them, and that in a pillar of cloud You go before them by day and in a pillar of fire at night -- yet You killed this people like a single man!' Then the natios that heard of Your fame will say, 'Because Hashem lacked the ability to bring this people to the Land that He had sworn to give them, He slaughtered them in the Wilderness.' And now -- may the strength of my Lord be magnified as You have spoken, saying, 'Hashem, Slow to Anger, Abundant in Kindness, Forgiver of Iniquity and Willful Sin, and Who cleanses -- but does not cleanse completely, recalling the iniquity of parents upon children to the third and fourth generations' -- forgive now the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your kindness and as You have forgiven this people from Egypt until now."



In this portion The Lord is upset with a very fickle people. Despite perpetual miracles, the people lack faith. The Lord has two polar choices. At first, in a fit of rage, the inclination is to destroy the people and restart with Moses. The other choice is to react, "slow to anger" and forgive the people. While in the end a compromise is chosen, as the people are simultaneously forgiven to live, and condemned to wandering, what can we learn from the Lord's Struggle?

Is Holiness achieved through forgiveness? Is Holiness achieved through choosing the harder, and often emotionally constrained path? Perhaps curbing our emotions brings us one step closer to a righteous life. We were created in the Lord's Image, and we too must struggle with our emotions.

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