Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chizuk for Dangerous Times

A certain Gerrer chassid was serving in the Israeli army during wartime and was often in situations of mortal danger, so he went to asked his Rebbe, the Beis Yisroel, zt”l, for some badly needed chizuk. The Beis Yisroel, zt”l, encouraged him with the words of our sages: “The Mishnah brings the verse that discusses our battle with Amalek and says that when Moshe raised his hands, the Jewish people were victorious. It goes on to ask rhetorically, can the hands of Moshe bring victory or defeat in battle? It answers that the verse is meant to teach us that when the Jewish people looked up and subdued their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they would triumph but when they faltered, they would suffer losses.
Similarly, we see that Moshe Rabbeinu was told to forge a copper serpent and place it on a banner so that the Jewish people could gaze at it and recover from their wounds. The Mishnah again asks the same basic question: does a copper snake on a banner have the power to give life or take it away? Once again, we are taught the same lesson: when they looked at the copper snake on the banner, they would subdue their hearts to their Father in Heaven and be healed. If not, they would die.”
The Rebbe concluded, “We see from this that when one directs his heart to his Father in heaven, he need not fear even snakes and scorpions! Even when you are in the middle of a battlefield, any place of danger, if you place your trust in Hashem, direct your hope to Him, and wait for His salvation, nothing can harm you!”


Anonymous said...

G-d bless you.
thanks for another very inspiring lesson. it has always puzzled and even confused me, re the copper snake. in fact i am still wondering the actual need because its worshipped by some of the 70 nations.
Is moses trying to say the snake, as they look at it cannot harm them, just as their enemies cannot, and only G-d can protect them. why did moses use a snake? why not holy words of the Torah?

Micha Golshevsky said...

Excellent question as always!
He used a snake to remind them that snakes can only harm because we are not connected above. Presumably, they could internalize this most easily by seeing a snake.
Although the snake was later worshiped as idolatry, until then it was an inspiring reminder of one of the wondrous miracles Hashem wrought in the desert, and had a positive purpose.
The Midrash recounts that when an idolater asked a Mishnaic sage (don't remember who right now) why Hashem doesn't destroy idolatry if He doesn't want it, he replied, "The fools worship the sun and moon too. Should Hashem then destroy these for every fool?"