Parashas Bamidbar

In Bamidbar Rabbah 2:1 and Tanchuma, Bamidbar 2, the Midrash describes how the sea, the mountains, and the wilderness reacted when Hashem “approached” them. The sea fled (Tehillim 114:3, referring to the splitting of the Sea of Reeds), and the mountains quaked with fear (ibid. 114:4, referring to the revelation at Sinai), but the wilderness sang (Yeshayah 42:11). The Midrash illustrates the idea with a parable about a king touring his provinces: When the king arrived at the first province, the people there fled from him. The same happened at the second province. The king then visited a barren city, and the people there greeted him with praises. Said the king: “Here I will build a fine palace; here I will reside.” 
The Maggid explains this Midrash as follows. A man of great might can show his power in one of two ways. He can go to a well-built city and knock down a solid wall with a slight tap. Or he can go to a run-down city where all the walls are about to fall, and, applying his strength, set them all firmly upright. In the first case, the onlookers are impressed, but they are also upset over the damage. In the second case, by contrast, the onlookers are not only impressed, but are also glad that their city has been restored. Similarly, Hashem can show His power through various modes. He can unleash the forces of nature against the wicked to destroy them, as He did with the Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds. Or He can produce a fearsome display of His presence within the world, as He did at Sinai. Finally, He can bring miraculous blessing, as He did when turned the harsh wilderness into a comfortable abode for the Jewish People, through the manna, the traveling well, and the clouds of glory. All three modes impress us with Hashem’s awesomeness, but the mode of miraculous blessing also makes us sing to Him with joy.
Indeed, the mode of miraculous blessing is the mode that Hashem Himself prefers. An earlier segment of the Midrash describes the Jewish People lamenting over the loss of the Beis HaMikdash and the departure of the Divine Presence from their midst. They exclaim to Hashem (Yirmiyah 2:31): “We will no longer [be able to] come to You.” Hashem replies: “‘Would that I could have a lodging-house in the wilderness!’ (Yirmiyah 9:1). If only I could now be in the wilderness, where I wrought so many miracles for you!”
Hashem urges us to return with Him to the glory of the wilderness, as it is written (Hoshea 2:16, in this week’s haftarah): “Therefore, behold, I will coax her [Knesses Yisrael], and I will lead her to the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart.” May we heed Hashem’s call, and soon merit to see the day of which it is written (Yeshayah 35:1-2, referred to in the Midrash): “The wilderness and the wasteland shall rejoice over them; the desert shall jubilate and blossom like a rose. It shall blossom abundantly and jubilate with joyous song. The glory of Lebanon will have been granted it, the majesty of the Carmel and the Sharon; they shall see the glory of Hashem, the majesty of our God.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.