You grumbled in your tents and said, "The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us." Deuteronomy 1:27
The Torah portion for this week is Davarim, which means "words," from Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 1:1-27.
As Moses continued the walk down memory lane in this week's reading, he recalled how the Israelites said, "The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us."
How is it possible that the children of Israel thought that God hated them? God had performed 10 wondrous plagues on their behalf. He had freed them from centuries of slavery in Egypt with miracles that included the parting of the Red Sea. Moreover, God had provided manna from the heavens for them to eat and water from a rock for them to drink. He provided the cloud of glory to guide them during the day, and a pillar of fire at night, which provided guidance and illumination. "God carried you, as a father carries his son," said Moses in verse 31.
Any objective observer could only conclude that God loved the Israelites deeply. How could they have thought anything else?
The rabbis explain with a parable. Imagine that a man is driving through a terrible rainstorm when he gets a flat tire. He pulls over to the side of the road to change the tire only to discover that he had forgotten to put the jack back into the car last time he used it. The man was furious with himself. How could he be so irresponsible? Now he has to walk miles to the nearest farmhouse to borrow one.
As the man walks, his imagination goes wild. Maybe the farmer won't have a jack. Maybe he would have one, but wouldn't lend it because he might think that it might be stolen. The man had heard that farmers didn't like city-folk. So, the man concludes that the farmer probably hates him and would never lend his jack out of spite. Here he has walked miles, and the rude farmer will probably turn him away empty-handed.
When the man finally reaches a farmer's home and the farmer opens the door, the man is fuming with anger. He punches the innocent farmer in the nose and yells at him, "You can keep your lousy jack!"
The message for us is that if we think that God hates us, it has nothing to do with God and everything to do with ourselves. If we think God hates us, there is probably something about us that we don't like and need to change. God always has and always will love us. As it says in Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." No matter how things may seem, God loves us tremendously. It couldn't be any other way! Bask in God's love and trust in a good future.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President