Masei: Seeing is believing

It is human nature to doubt that which we do not see with our own eyes; at the very least, the ‘truth’ of the events is not fully ‘accepted’ in our hearts.

Danny Ginsbourg

Judaism Desert (file)
Desert (file)

Why does the Torah, at the beginning of our parsha, relate all the journeys mentioned there? Had they not all been already mentioned, as they occurred, in the earlier parshiot?

Rashi gives two answers to this question, but let us focus on the answer that the Rambam gives: ‘All of Hashem’s miracles were clear to the generation that saw them; but, with the passage of time, as with all ‘stories’, the people are likely to come to doubt them.

By describing all the journeys of Bnei Israel,  the future generations would know that the places which they traversed in their forty years, were inhospitable and dangerous: a  desert, with no water, or food to sustain man- so that they would not err, and think that it was like the desert areas that some Arabs inhabit today, that are arable, and that have water wells.

They would then know that only by Hashem’s miracles, were Bnei Israel able to exist for forty years.

Rav Yechezkel  Levenstein expounds:‘The Rambam teaches us of the short-coming of learning of events by hearing, as compared to seeing them. It is human nature to doubt that which we do not see with our own eyes; at the very least, the ‘truth’ of the events is not fully ‘accepted’ in our hearts.

But’-he ponders-‘as these events are related several times in the Torah, if some חסרי דעת: dolts, should still doubt them, why should we be concerned? Does the Torah have to again relate them, in our parsha, ‘for their sake’?’.

Answers the Rav:’Because the Torah does so, we learn an important foundation of אמונה: Hashem wants our אמונה to be not merely ‘knowing’: ידיעה גרידא, but מוחשית: ‘sensory’, that we should truly, כביכול, ‘see’ the matters.

‘We learn this from Hashem’s words to Bnei Israel before Matan Torah:(Yitro 19:4)’You have SEEN what I did to Mitzrayim’- comments Rashi:’’You have seen’: not במסורת: by tradition..but with your own eyes’.

Comments the Rav:’It is clear from here, that the Torah demands of us that our אמונה should be כראיה ממש: as seen, truly’.

Concludes the Rav:’This is why the Torah, in our parsha, relates all the journeys, and places, that Bnei Israel traversed in their forty year in the desert, so that we will ‘see’ that they only survived because of the miraculous Hashgacha of Hashem; and we will thereby have the necessary אמונה שלימה: Perfect Faith’, that is demanded by Hashem’.

A parting musar lesson:Rav Simcha Zissel miKelm, when he was studying our parsha, would consult an atlas, to better ‘see’ these places, to ‘strengthen’ his אמונה!