Remember, do not forget, that you provoked Hashem, your G-d, in the wilderness, from the day you left the land of Egypt until arrival at this place, you have been rebels against Hashem. And in Chorev you provoked Hashem….”
As Am Yisroel stands on the east bank of the Yarden River, Moshe Rabbeinu testifies to the rebellions which occurred during the previous forty years in the Desert.
How could Am Yisroel do this? After seeing earth-shaking miracles … the Ten Plagues … the liberation from the “kor barzel … the iron crucible” of Egypt … the splitting of the Sea … the drowning of their enemies … receiving the Torah directly from Hashem … traveling through the “howling wilderness” in which Hashem miraculously supplied food and water … providing Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon ha Kohain to lead them through this wild world to safety …
How … how … how could they rebel?
It is incomprehensible!
Is it really incomprehensible?
“Ma’ase avos siman l’banim … the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children.”
I know that we are not speaking about Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov here, but the Generation of the Desert actually are our forefathers. We had better look inside and ask whether we are so different from them.
I will start with myself.
The Yetzer Hara is constantly testing us. We can never overcome the Yetzer Hara on our own, but Hashem, in His kindness, has given us the Torah. “I have created the Yetzer Hara and I have created the Torah, tavlin.”
“Tavlin” means “spice.” Why does the Torah use this word? Why does it not say, “I have created the Torah to destroy the Yetzer Hara?”
This is so profound, my friends. Please contemplate the words the Chazon Ish wrote to one of his students: “Strengthen yourself, my dear one, strengthen yourself, and envelop yourself with the fortitude to engross yourself in Torah, for it is for that purpose you were created. With just a little more [effort] you will be able to come to grips with your evil inclination. Then his defeat will be total, and he will no longer bother you. Just overcome him today and he will be your faithful servant for all time.”
Apparently, we do not want to eliminate the Yetzer Hara. Apparently, we want to make this incredibly powerful force our servant, as opposed to being his servant!
How do we accomplish this? What is the “recipe?” The recipe is immersion in Torah, the “tavlin/spice” through which life becomes delicious instead of torturous!
Do we not beg Hashem every day, “Compel our Evil Inclination to be subservient to You!”
Life is torture for most people. They do not admit it, so they cover it up with keeping busy, earning a livelihood, empty entertainment, vacations, or -- in more extreme cases -- drugs or other addictions. People do not allow themselves to think. If people would think, they would realize the emptiness of their lives, “For most of their deeds are desolate and the days of their lives are empty before You. The preeminence of man over beast is non-existent, for all is vain.”
The culture of Edom, which dominates life on this planet, is devoid of meaning. This is why almost no one thinks at all. If they would think, they might go crazy. And now, when the Western World is reaching the zenith of emptiness, it is increasingly obvious that this vast house of cards is beginning to collapse. Chaos is increasing around the world; the house of cards is falling.
The only “house” which stands forever, lehavdil, is the House of Torah.
Before the incident with the Golden Calf, the Yetzer Hara showed Israel a vision of Moshe Rabbeinu being taken to Heaven. In their panic, they started worshiping an idol! The Nation that had just met Hashem at Har Sinai starting worshiping an idol!
When the miraglim returned with their loshon hara against Eretz Yisroel, the people panicked. They lost their seichel and said, “We will never be able to conquer these giants and live in the Land that Hashem promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov!”
When one panics, he becomes a slave to his emotions. He is captured by the Yetzer Hara! Thus, the Torah tells us not to go “acharei levavchem v’acharei ainaichem … after your heart and after your eyes, after which you stray.”
If we let panic grab us, G-d forbid, the results remain; they are in front of our eyes over three thousand years later: Tisha B’Av, the Bais Hamikdosh burning, expulsion, Golus, worldwide hatred, sickness, sinas chinom, tragedy on every level!
Have you ever had a panic attack?
You are enveloped by fear. It makes no sense, but it takes over! You are helpless! You think there is nothing which can save you! Your life is exploding! Try to say a bracha or study Torah when you are like this. You cannot do it; you cannot concentrate; you are in another world; you are lost.
This is what happened to Am Yisroel in the Midbar. It was a national panic attack. They lost all connection to Reality. Torah is our only anchor. It is connected securely and unbreakably to Hashem, a rope which cannot be severed. “Indeed, the world is fixed so that it cannot falter.”
When you grab onto Torah, you are saved, but you have to grab and hold.
My current book is called, “Hold On: Surviving the Days Before Moshiach.”
My friends, we have to hold on. That is all we need. I don’t say it is easy, but it is a simple, direct, clear action which leads to … survival!
Yes, my friends, survival.
May we see the arrival of Moshiach ben Dovid and the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh in the Holy City of Yerushalayim soon in our days!