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Thought for the Day: Leaps of Faith, Great and Small

When Klal Yisrael was being prepared to receive the Torah, they unanimously told Moshe, "Everything that HaShem says, we will do."  HaShem then told Moshe, that He would appear to Klal Yisrael in such a manner that they would listen and also believe in Moshe forever. (Shmos 19:8,9)   Goodness gracious, shouldn't they believe in Moshe already?  We were all astounded that Moshe said "ka-chatzos" by makos b'choros because of those with little faith; is Klal Yisrael at such a low level?  And what's with "Everything HaShem says, we will do"; who else is there to obey?

The S'porno explains that Klal Yisrael certainly believed what Moshe was telling them.  Their concern was that they had never encountered a n'vu'ah like Moshe Rabeinu was claiming, where HaShem spoke to him "panim el panim".  They were certainly ready to sign up unconditionally for anything that HaShem wanted (all that HaShem says, we will do), but they were unwilling to give that same kind of commitment if Moshe was getting his information from a malach.  That is what HaShem intended by His assurance, "they will believe in you forever".  HaShem told Moshe that the entire Klal Yisrael would experience "panim el panim" n'vu'ah so that they would know that such a level was even possible.  Once they appreciated that and appreciated that only Moshe had that level all the time, they would be more than willing to accept the Torah, lock, stock, and sh'b'al peh.  Still a leap of faith, but a reasonable and justified leap of faith.

The truth is that we all make leaps of faith all the time.  We all believe in atoms even though we've never seen one.  Maybe you'll say, "Sure I believe in atoms; why not?  Lots of smart people say they exist and it doesn't cost me anything to believe in them.  I wouldn't bet my life on their existence, though."  Somehow we think that faith is ok for religion and (other) stuff that doesn't really matter.  But when it comes to my life -- by golly I want facts, not faith.  Really?  Did you check the floor this morning before stepping on it?  Did you check your food for poisons before you ate it?  That's not facts, that's faith.  You have a lot of confidence that the floor will hold you and the food is not poisonous.  Why?  Experience and knowledge; two things that take a leap of faith out of the realm of recklessness and bring it to reasonable and appropriate.

We have three thousand years of experience with the Torah way of life; it works and nothing else does.  We have plenty of ways to increase our knowledge; go out and learn.


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