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Yes, God Loves YOU

Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1 )

by Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

Towards the end of the parsha, we find a somewhat cryptic, poetic song that the Jewish People sang about the well that was ever with them in the desert.[1] Rashi explains that a specific miracle took place at this point in time that aroused them to sing to God in praise of the well.

The enemies decided that they would ambush the Jews on their way into the Land. They hid in caves waiting for the moment that the Jews would pass through the narrow valley below. Hashem made a miracle take place, and the mountain on the opposite side of the range moved into the mountain in which they were hiding. The rocky protrusions of the former eliminated the would-be ambushers. Thus, the Jews were saved from a terrible catastrophe without even having had the slightest inkling of what transpired.

Hashem asked, as it were, "Who will inform my children of what I have done for them?" Enter the well. Hashem made the well scoop up all of the remains of the would-be ambushers and laid them out for the Jewish People to see. Upon becoming aware of the miracle that just occurred, the Jews broke out into song in praise of the goodness that Hashem gave them in the form of the well.

Two questions: First of all, this well was obviously no simple well. To provide for all of the drinking, bathing, and cleaning water for all of the people and their animals (of which they had many) of a nation numbering at least two million, this "well" had to have actually been a river that constantly followed them in the desert. Now, try to picture such a thing. Here you have a nation traveling through the desert, and ever faithfully on their side is this river traveling with them! Isn't that pretty spectacular enough to warrant singing praise? Isn't the constant providing of one of our most absolute necessities in such a miraculous manner enough of a reason to sing praise? What was so special about the current miracle that it brought about this urgent need to offer up a symphony of praise?

Furthermore, this current miracle seems kind of coincidental to the well itself. It wasn't through the well that the salvation took place; the well was just a means of informing them of what had happened. So why is the well "receiving" the praise?[2]

Our Sages teach us that if you gave someone a gift without the recipient knowing you should make a point to inform them of that fact. Rashi explains that by doing so you are increasing love and unity between Jews because the recipient will realize that you feel kindly towards him and that sentiment will naturally be reciprocated.

We see, then, that although doing for another is in of itself a positive act of kindness and expression of love, nonetheless, communication between the giver and the recipient is crucial in terms of bringing about the desired relationship-dynamic.

In the case at hand, Hashem, who is our Father and our King, took care of us by saving us from a potential catastrophe. He cares for us and He is constantly watching out for our well-being. But, of course, it is not merely the continuation of our physical existence that carries the purpose of creation; rather it is the relationship of love and awe that we establish with Him - within the framework of fulfilling His will as He expressed to us in His Torah - on both the individual and national level that carries the purpose of creation. Therefore, Hashem went out of His way, so to speak, to make sure that we would become informed of what He did for us in order that we become aware of how much He cares for us and so that we reciprocate those feelings of love.

Indeed, there is no question that the constant miracle of the well-river in the desert was deserving of great praise and thanks; and it seems like a fair assumption, to say the least, that the Jewish People in the desert definitely did thank and praise Hashem for this ongoing beneficence. Nevertheless, we were never told about this goodness. Of course, the reason we weren't is that it would have been utterly superfluous; we were very well aware of it! As such, it was always possible to think something along the lines of, "It's not because He really loves us. He's just doing it because He 'has to'. He promised our Forefathers that we would endure and come to the Land, so He doesn't have a choice. He is bound to His promise."

Not so when it comes to the current miracle. Hashem didn't have to tell us that He saved us. He could have just done it and left it at that. Therefore, His "going out of His way" to tell us about it can only mean one thing: He truly loves us; for if not, why would he "take the pains" to inform of us of what He did for us. If it was just a "begrudging" fulfillment of a promise, there wouldn't be any reason to let us know about it.

Furthermore, it now became obvious that the mighty well-river that had been miraculously accompanying them all throughout their desert travels was not only because "He had to", rather that too must have been because He truly loves us and cares for us. When the Jewish People came to this point of recognition of how much the Creator truly relates to them (as it were) as their loving father, and that He truly cares about them; they immediately and naturally reciprocated with a spontaneous outburst of song in which they praised Hashem from the depths of their heart - full of love and awe for the Source of the ongoing loving-kindness that was constantly being bestowed upon them.

One should always carry this yesod in his heart. Although we may mess up from time to time and although from time to time Hashem may give us a potch or two - sometimes even very ringing ones - the fact is that He loves us endlessly; and if he does sometimes punish us it is with a very heavy heart, so to speak, and only for our own good. What he does for us on a constant, ongoing basis - and if we would count the points of goodness we would literally never reach a final number (think: each successful breath, step, flow of blood, seeing, digesting, food availability, family life, etc.) - is not just because He "has to" in order to fulfill the promise He made to our forefathers, it is also because He is our Father who loves us and wants the best for us.


1. Bamidbar 21:17-20.

2. Obviously, it is Hashem that they were praising, but the well was what Hashem was being praised for. So, in that sense the well was seemingly "getting credit" for this miracle.

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