web analytics
November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Gift Of Opportunity Is Not Limitless

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A glimpse at the narrative in the book of Numbers reveals an almost parallel pattern of events to that which occurred to the Jews after their leaving Egypt.

In Numbers, the Jews began to murmur that they did not have meat to eat (Numbers 11:4). This corresponds to the longing of the Jews “for the fleshpots” in Egypt, resulting in the giving of the manna (Exodus 16:3).

Also, the Numbers narrative states that after the Jews complained that they lacked water, Moshe hit instead of spoke to the rock, and water came forth (Numbers 20:2, 3, 8, 11). So too in the Exodus story did Moshe hit the rock after the Jews militated for water (Exodus 17:2, 6).

And the Numbers narrative includes several challenges the Jews faced from nations like Edom (Numbers 20:14-21). This is much like the battle the Jews fought with Amalek after they departed Egypt (Exodus 17:8-16).

Finally, the story of the spies that highlights this week’s portion is viewed as an episode revealing the Jews’ basic lack of faith in God (Numbers 13, 14). This, of course, is similar in underlying theme to the Golden Calf story that seems to describe the Jews’ lack of faith (Exodus 32, 33).

So similar are the stories in these two narratives that the Bekhor Shor (a medieval French commentator) insists that the water stories are one and the same. The latter is a more detailed account of the former.

But a closer look reveals an interesting pattern. In each of the narratives the consequences escalate in their seriousness in the Book of Numbers.

Unlike the manna story in Exodus, the request for meat in the Book of Numbers resulted in the Lord “smit[ing] the people with a very great plague” (Numbers 11:33). Also, only after Moshe hits the rock in the Book of Numbers is he given the severe punishment of not being allowed to enter Israel (Numbers 20:12). And while Amalek was defeated with no mention of Jewish losses in Exodus, many Jews died when they were forced to go around the land of Edom (Numbers 21:4, 6). Finally, only after the spy incident – not after the episode of the Golden Calf – does God decree that the generation that left Egypt must die in the desert (Numbers 14:29).

Why are the consequences greater in the Book of Numbers, when the transgressions seem so similar? First, the events in the Book of Exodus occur either prior to Sinai or (according to Rashi) in the case of the Golden Calf, prior to the construction of the sanctuary. With the Sinaitic teachings and the Tabernacle construction in place the Jews should have known better than to falter again.

Second, to err once is forgivable and even sometimes understandable. The same transgression committed again deserves to be treated much more harshly.

So the patterns of the narratives may be similar but the message is clear: God understands that we will fall. But we must take the lessons we learn in our mistakes and redeem ourselves. God gives us opportunities for repentance, but we cannot address those opportunities as unlimited. Sometimes one is given just so many chances.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Gift Of Opportunity Is Not Limitless”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry .
NYT Ignores US Condemnation of PA Incitement, Prints Info on Ferguson Cop
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspectives-NEW

A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.

The Story of Jacob and Esau (2010) 11 x 19, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe. Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum – Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Yaacov returns the stolen blessing of material wealth and physical might to Esav

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The Jew, from the perspective of the name Yaakov, is dependent on the non-Jewish world. This can be seen today in the relationship between the State of Israel and the United States

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Yet, ultimately, looking back, these “setbacks” turned out to be really for the patient’s best – for the good.

In the afternoon, he reached into his pocket to check for the money, but it was empty. “The $50 bill must have fallen out,” Alex exclaimed. “It’s got to be in one of the rooms I was just at.”

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

The Decree Of 1587
“Two Kabs Of Dinars Were Given…To King Yanai”
(Yevamos 61a)

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Perhaps deep down Eliezer did hesitate. In his heart of hearts, he may not have wanted to succeed.

To be fully saved means not only to come out physically unscathed but emotionally healthy as well.

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

The Sukka: Even if you find it difficult to come to the synagogue, the synagogue will come to you.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-gift-of-opportunity-is-not-limitless/2014/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: