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Monday, July 21, 2014

Just Listen...

  I found an interesting connection to an ordinary issue in the Schottenstein Talmud, Tractate Brachos volume 2, daf 32 amud a. It was a five page discussion on the conversation that occurred between Moshe and Hashem when he went up Mount Sinai. Moshe’s stance was that Hashem should not destroy Yisroel, after their sin of the Golden Calf. This has always been an interesting occurrence in the Torah for me, so I figured that I would write on the subject.

     The section that I would like to analyze in this post is where the Gemara explains the quote, “And you told them, I shall increase your offspring like the stars of heaven, and this entire land of which I spoke I shall give to your offspring.” The Gemara questions this, as it was stated “of which I spoke” which if Moshe was speaking in that section of the verse, then it would not make sense. The Gemara offered two explanations. The first was by Rabbi Elazar, who stated that the first half of the verse was quoted by Moshe, and the second was a response from Hashem to Moshe. The second explanation was by Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani, who stated that both halves of the verse were quoted to Hashem by Moshe. So therefore, the analysis of the statement must be in accordance with Rabbi Elazar’s opinion.

     This appears to be a simple argument. However, look beyond the quote and opinions and you will see that this passage means something much more than is apparent on a first glance. Hashem was responding to Moshe. He spent His Divine time listening to Moshe. We can learn from this two things; Hashem really does listen to us and our pleas, but second, that we don’t always hear His response. Moshe did, but Moshe was a tzaddik and a prophet. For simple people like us, we don’t hear His words. We sometimes recognize what He’s doing on those few lucky days, but otherwise we’re quite in the dark about what’s really going on. Have you considered that we sometimes kvetch and then something really great happens? Hashem was working on that greatness during our complaint and possibly beforehand as well. And we were complaining! We didn’t consider that things aren’t what they seem! I can only wonder what He’s “thinking” when we complain when He’s doing well for us. Here we find another reason why we should think before complaining; we don’t know how He thinks. We don’t even know if He thinks. So therefore, we should be more conscious about our complaints. Maybe Hashem was working on something great, and now that we’ve complained He’s halted His work.

     Make yourself worthy of a response from Him. It’s not to say that we’ll be able to get a conversation with actual words, but be thankful that He takes His time to respond at all to you. Even when there aren’t immediate results, at least He’s listening. According to Rashi, Hashem was telling Moshe that He had decided not to destroy Yisroel, as He stated, “And this entire land of which I spoke I shall give to your offspring”. If Moshe had listened, he would have understood this as Hashem accepting and answering favorably his plea. However, the discussion continued on for four more pages. Learn from this that Moshe may have not listened entirely to what Hashem was saying. Don’t make the same mistake, though it’s hard not to because we don’t hear Hashem’s response in words. Understand that you must “listen” by considering that you don’t always know what Hashem is doing for you.

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