Judaism: Dvar Torah for Dvarim
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"lRevered rabbi, author and gifted lecturer in USA who studied at YU and Slobodka, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual advisor) of Rabbi Chaim Berlin Yeshiva and later head of Beit YIsrael Yeshiva. Aug. 28, 1908 - Apr. 20, 2001. Rabbi Avigdor Miller Sent by Simchas Hachaim Foundation, based on the works of Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001). Discover more at SimchasHachaim.com.
And you complained in your tents and said: "because Hashem hates us, he has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Emori to destroy us." (Dvarim 1:27)
This is related here as a criticism and a rebuke to those that said this. Even though they did not say these words openly in public, but only in the privacy of "their tents", it is considered a sin that they viewed the kindness of Hashem as Hashem's vengeance and punishment upon them.
But is it not a praiseworthy Torah attitude to blame ourselves as deserving of our misfortune? Why here were they castigated for such thoughts?
The answer is: for men of superior wisdom, as were this generation, two possibilities must be considered in every matter: is it a punishment by Hashem, or is it perhaps a blessing which was soon to be fully realised?
For example: a hitherto childless woman was now about to give birth; should she consider the travail of the birth-pains a punishment for her sins, or should she rather rejoice in the knowledge that Hashem was now granting her prayers for a child? It would be an error to become saddened and to think that her pains were a misfortune for her misdeeds.
This generation had witnessed Hashem's great kindliness toward them, and Moshe now was leading them to gain the happy land of milk and honey. Despite the very great apparent perils, these superior men were expected to consider the great happiness that awaited them, instead of mourning the punishment for their sins.
For us today, the ordeal would be crushing; but the generation of the Wilderness had been trained to greatness by the experiences of the Exodus and by other lessons of Hashem's power. Yet even for them, it was an enormous ordeal, and the blame upon them that the Torah expresses was part of the Torah-lessons.
They are blamed for their misplaced (although virtuous) Repentance, which should not have been allowed to mitigate their gratitude and happiness for the great good fortune which Hashem intended to bestow upon them.
The truth is that Hashem's secret plan was that they should not begin conquering the land. The 40 year sojourn in the Wilderness was planned and intended.
What seemed a tragic punishment was actually the cause for the unequalled era of the generation that spent 40 years with Moshe, with the Mishkan in their midst, and with the Clouds of Glory overhead.
The nation never afterward experienced such intensive Torah-study as they did in these 40 years under the greatest teacher in history .
This would not have happened had they entered the land immediately as Hashem had apparently desired, for they would have scattered to take possession of their homesteads and to till their land. (Fortunate Nation)