The miracle of the natural

Through the Lens of Torah: Korach, Numbers 16:1–18:32. The most important insight of all involves not missing the miracles that occur around us every day.

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Blossoming almond trees in Golan Heights, northern Israel
Blossoming almond trees in Golan Heights, northern Israel
צילום: PR

We are living in a world where the spiritual reality is hidden behind the facade of the natural. When Moshe Asks Hashem if the people ask who sent him, what name should he reveal to them?

"Say to the Israelites, 'Hashem, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.' "This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.( Exodus 3:15)

The word "forever" in the phrase  "This is my name forever" is spelled LeAlem without Hebrew letter vav rather than leOlam that truly denotes "forever"

The Hiddenness of the Divine is created so that we are moved to search for that Divinity. That search must necessarily focus on the natural all around us.

In this Torah portion Korach the son of Izhar confronts Moshe together with two hundred and fifty "men of repute“ from the children of Israel. They assembled against Moshe and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and Hashem is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above Hashem's assembly?"( Numbers 16:1-3)

Their rebellion is quickly vanquished through the Divine intervention of G-d and the earth swallowed the threat. Yet the rebellion of Korach brought about confusion, hatred and a breakdown of the community.

In that storm of hatred and confusion there were segments of the community that continued to rally against Moshe and Aharon. The result of that confrontation was a plague that was only stopped when Aaron went out with the incense to atone for their rebellion and put a halt to the plague.

Then Hashem tells Moshe to create a test that would clarify for all the direction of Hashem's intentions;

"Moshe spoke to the children of Israel, and all their chieftains gave him a staff for each chieftain according to their fathers' houses, [a total of] twelve staffs, and Aaron's staff was amidst their staffs.Moshe placed the staffs before Hashem in the Tent of the Testimony."(Numbers 17:21-22).

After a long night of anticipation we read the following

And on the following day Moshe came to the Tent of Testimony, and behold, Aaron's staff for the house of Levi had blossomed! It gave forth blossoms, sprouted buds, and produced ripe almonds.Moshe took out all the staffs from before Hashem, to the children of Israel; they saw and they took, each man his staff." (Numbers 17:23-24)

G‑d instructs that Aaron’s staff should be returned to the Sanctuary and placed there as a memorial and testimony for generations to come.

What then was the lesson of the miracle of these  staffs of wood ?  Why must it be "a memorial and testimony for generations to come"?

First we must explore why Hashem bring about a miracle that necessitated a patient wait until the next day for results? We must also understand why the "ripe almonds" actually appear together with blossoms, and sprouted buds . Finally why the staff of Aaron made  from an almond tree?

That curtain over reality, this cloud of the "Natural" can become the ultimate obstacle between meeting and relating to G-d. Yet it is a hiddenness that G-d Himself sets into place when He declares “And I will surely hide My face in that day”(Deuteronomy 31:18). This Divine “hiding” is more than a response to man’s actions in this world. It is a critical and vital step in the plan for the fashioning of mankind’s purpose.

That is the meaning of the statement regarding the staff of Aaron ,"a memorial and testimony for generations to come".Hashem in this world will not be revealed and experienced in miraculous outburst of spiritualty. Those outbursts can be a greater trap and a powerful camouflage than being a revelation.

Elijah is taught that G-d is heard in the quietude of the "still silent voice (kol d'mama daka)." And not in the storm or the fire.

"And He said: 'Go forth, and stand upon the mount before Hashem.' And, behold, Hashem passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before Hashem; but Hashem was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but Hashem was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire; but Hashem was not in the fire; and after the fire a still silent voice.(kol d'mama daka)."" (I Kings 19:11-12).

That is the reason the almonds had to appear miraculously and yet appear in the natural order of their natural growth process.

The miracle is found in the natural.

Furthermore in the midst of anticipating that miracle the people of Israel were forced to wait through the evening. A great lesson for all awaiting redemption in our individual or our corporate lives. We must be patient with G-d’s timing.

Finally the almond tree and its fruits represent a rushing to complete a purpose

And the word of Hashem came to me, saying: What do you see, Jeremiah? And I said, "I see a rod of an almond (Shaked) tree."   12 And Hashem said to me; You have seen well, for I hasten (Shoked) My word to accomplish it. (Jeremiah 1:11-12)

Living in our world and especially in Israel necessitates great insight. The most important insight of all involves not missing the miracles that occur around us every day. Without that awareness, this world and the enemies surrounding this land could become an overwhelming threat.

Yet even that insight needs to be accompanied with patience and a firm understanding that in the right time all will come to pass

May the buds of loving-kindness continue to flower into the flowers of unity which will in turn quickly become the fruits of Geula- Redemption.