ד”ר אברהם ארזי, תשס”ג
Beyond Human Comprehension
Moses concludes his life with a poem, the poem of “Haazinu [give ear],” which encompasses the entire history of the people of Israel from its birth to the future. The poem opens with a verse that summarizes in lively fashion the entire content of the portion: “The Rock! His deeds are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, never false, true and upright is He.” This verse became of everlasting value in the life of the Jew and has penetrated deeply into his heart and mind, because it is recited at the most tragic moment, when a person´s dead lies before him and he must take his leave of his beloved one forever. Specifically then, when despair attacks the heart, which is bursting with bitterness and criticism of the Lord´s way in the world, the Jew justifies Divine judgment and proclaims: “The Rock! His deeds are perfect, for all His ways are just.”
Solomon, the wisest of all men, also was forced to admit that comprehending the ways of the Lord is beyond human capability. In his book Ecclesiastes he addresses the reader who examines this question: “For what can the man do who comes after the king?” (Ecclesiastes 2:12). The aggadah comments: “If someone tells you, ´I can stand on the foundation of the world,´ tell him: ´You cannot stand after a flesh-and-blood king, how can you stand after the King of kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He!” (Genesis Rabbah 12).
There was one brave soul who did not accept his fate and dared to level criticism at the ways of the Lord, and even to bring the Creator to trial. This was Job, who charged the Director of the world with injustice: “For He crushes me for a hair, He wounds me for no cause” (Job 9:17).
This is how the dispute between Job and the Lord is reflected in the looking-glass of the aggadah: “Rabbah said: Job blasphemed with [mention of] a storm, and He replied to him with a storm. He blasphemed in a storm – he said before Him: ´Master of the Universe! A tempest passed before you, and you confused Job [iyov] with enemy [oyev; i.e., You erroneously regarded me as Your enemy]. He replied to him in a storm – as it is said, ´Then the Lord replied to Job out of the tempest and said … Gird your loins like a man; I will ask … Do you know when the wild goat gives birth?´ (Job 38:1-39:1). This wild goat is cruel to its young, and when it is about to give birth, it climbs to the mountain peak, so that [the newborn] will fall from it and die. I make ready for it an eagle, that receives it with its wings and places it down before it, and is neither early nor late by even a single moment, for if it were to be either early or late by even a single moment, it would die immediately. I do not confuse between one moment and another – will I confuse between Job and an enemy?” (Bava Batra 16a). The great rebel bends down before his Creator, submits, and admits: “Indeed, I spoke without understanding of things beyond me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).
Moses, the man of G-d, who “looked in the window-glass” of prophetic vision and saw the Lord face to face, thirsted to comprehend the ways of the Lord in the world. When he reached the highest rung of the ladder between earth and Heaven, he asked: “Let me behold Your Glory” (Exodus 33:18). The Lord´s reply is concise and decisive: “for man may not see Me and live” (op cit., verse 20). The dialogue between the Lord and Moses is transmitted in a very brief aggadah: “´Let me behold Your Glory´ – Moses said to the Holy One, blessed be He, Let me behold an attribute by which you direct the world. He said to him: You cannot comprehend My attributes” (Shohar Tov 25).
Rabbi Johanan tempered this idea with a concrete example: “´You, O Lord, are my lamp´ (II Samuel 22:29) – Rabbi Johanan said: This eye is white, with the black in the middle, from where should it see – should it not be from within the white? This is not so, rather it sees from within the black. You cannot comprehend the vision of your eyes, and you wish to understand the way of the Holy One, blessed be He?” (Tanhuma, Tetzaveh 6).
This teaching of the justification of Divine judgment, that “the Rock! His deeds are perfect,” is a lifeline, a Tree of Life, for the individual and the people, from which the strength is drawn to withstand all the gales and tempests of life.
Courtesy of the KKL