How can we understand the fact that dor hamidbar witnessed so many nissim in Mitzrayim and in the Midbar and still they tested Hashem as it says: וינסו אותי זה עשר פעמים ולא שמעו בקולי – “And they tested Me these ten times, and they have not listened to My voice” (Bamidbar 14:22)?
How can we understand that you have people standing on the edge of a roof and you tell them, “Jump off the roof and Hashem will protect you,” and they ignore you? Let’s say you’re a navi and you tell them, כה אמר השם – So said Hashem: ‘Jump off the roof!’ Now suppose some don’t want to jump. What do you say about them? That they don’t believe in Hashem? That they’re big resha’im?
They came the edge to Eretz Canaan and they sent out spies. So now the meraglim came back and they told the people, “These people are living in strong fortified cities.” Some of these nations had thousands of chariots. It was like jumping off a roof. It was certain death.
Of course, tzaddikim are able to say, “No, we trust in Hashem.” But can you blame people who were afraid? So you’ll ask me what did they think? So I’ll ask you: What does the person standing on the roof think? They thought that Moshe Rabbeinu was making a mistake. Moshe Rabbeinu is not telling us what Hashem wants. Moshe Rabbeinu is stubborn. He wants to carry out his plans, only Hakadosh Baruch Hu favors Moshe Rabbeinu, He likes him so much because he’s an eved ne’eman, so He allows him to carry out his plan. But the plans are no good for us; we’re not interested in jumping off a roof right now. And if someone else would take over with different plans, maybe Hashem would favor those plans more.
It’s easy for us to sit back now. We sit in a comfortable place, in an air-conditioned house, and we have plenty to eat – so we’re thinking, “The mann! Why shouldn’t they eat mann? Why were they misonenim, complaining? Why did they complain against the mann? Well, why don’t you try to eat every day for two weeks the same kind of food. So if you have a good imagination and you’re able to be mechadesh in your thoughts that you’re eating cherries and you’re eating fried lamb, mutton; so you think of all kinds of good tastes and Hakodosh Boruch Hu sees you’re working hard, so He rewards your imagination and you feel something like those tastes.
But suppose it’s too hard to think about such things. So you’re faced by l’shad hashemen and tzapichis b’dvash, that’s all. Every day, tzapichis b’dvash and l’shad shemen – how could you take it?! You wouldn’t last even two weeks! You can’t blame them. And therefore, all the blames that were said, it was only because they were so great that Hashem used them as a sounding board to teach the world that you shouldn’t be complainers.
But actually, you couldn’t blame them for complaining. The dor hamidbar you have to know who they were they. Do you want to know who they were? Not what Moshe Rabbeinu said – no! If you want to know about the dor hamidbarso you listen to what Bila’am said: לא הביט אָוֶן בְּיַֽעֲקֹב וְלֹֽא רָאָה עָמָל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל – “Hashem sees no wrong in them” (Bamidbar 23:21). Bila’am said the truth. Only that Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t want to say the truth. He wanted to criticize them, to make them better and better. But the truth was like what Bila’am said: יודע דעת עליון – he knew the uppermost truth, the highest truth. The highest truth is that the Am Yisrael is perfect despite all the criticisms. The world learnt in the cheder to criticize the dor hamidbar, and they never outgrew the cheder Torah. Everybody’s miffed at them. Every Friday night you’re saying, הם לא ידעו דרכי – “They didn’t know My ways.” So you’re patting yourself on the shoulders: “I’m okay! I know His ways,” you’re thinking, “but they, the dor hamidbar, they were all trouble.” It’s exactly the opposite – you don’t understand pshat in that possuk. Why don’t you try mann for two weeks!
And so we have to know that although the Torah criticizes them, there was a purpose there – to make them better and better, to make them perfect. But what Hashem put into Bila’am’s mouth, that’s the real emes, that’s the real truth.
Tape # E-18