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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Far Side...

...of my consciousness will not permit me to do this a whole week w/o some attempt at appeasing the religious side of things. Now, I can already hear the rumblings "...he said everything would be kept light and not 24 hrs later we are already off course." Au contraire, mon frère...there are ways to do even this in the manner to which I have become accustomed. Not all ideas are created equal and not all come from the same school.
I went to yeshiva with a guy in Israel who began giving a chumash shiur each Thursday night and now continues this shiur back in the states. The stuff is always different and not from your typical sources, at the very least it is always interesting and highly entertaining. The following was from last week, my apologies for being out of sync but it really is good for anytime:

וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם, וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים; וִידַעְתֶּם,
כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה…

“and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the LORD…”

Berachos 38a
“You will know…”, Why? How? What will cause the Bnei Yisroel to NOW recognize that Hashem is their God? The gemara answers that the miracle of the manna was what brought them to this place.

Meaning, that the manna was such a crazy, out of the park miracle even compared to all that had happened up to that point that it took the Bnei Yisroel to a whole new place in their relationship with God.

Okay, now the words in the pasuk that the gemara uses to learn this are “Ani Hashem”(“I am the LORD”). The specifics of how we come to this are not for here and now, please just take it as a given that those two words refer to a crazy, out of this world miracle and the manna was this miracle. The question (of course there was a question, what good yiddisher thought doesn’t have a question at the beginning!) raised by the Chasam Sofer is as follows:
The very next pasuk continues from Hashem taking them out of Egypt and moves on to the next step of bringing them to Eretz Yisroel.

וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת-יָדִי,
אֲנִי יְהוָה…

“And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand,…I am the LORD.”

Notice anything…right, same wording at the end of the pasuk, “Ani Hashem”. However, we know that once they entered Eretz Yisroel the manna stopped falling. There was no more crazy miracle food each morning, they were going to start living off of bread just like everybody else in the world. What is the crazy miracle that is associated with THIS “Ani Hashem”?

You ever really thought about making bread? Who was the first person who took a stalk of wheat, took all the wheat kernels, crushed it into flour…crushed it into little tiny particles of dust. Then said, “hey, you know what? I’m gonna pour some water on this, throw it in an oven and maybe it’ll make something. Maybe, who knows. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll put a little bit of mold on it, yeah yeast that’s the ticket, let’s see what happens”. Then all of a sudden (ok not all of a sudden but you get the idea) this huge piece of bread comes out!! You think the first person who saw that bread come out, you don’t think he was like , “…what the heck just happened?! What did I just do?! I crushed a little seed, turned it into dust, mixed it with some water, put a little mold on top, put it in the oven and all of a sudden this thing of bread came out?!” You don’t think that wouldn’t have been the most shocked he’s ever been in his life? Callin’ people over, “…you gotta see this, I just did magic!”

The only reason we’re not shocked is because we see bread every day. I mean come on, if Tel Aviv bakery can do it anybody can do it. Like if you watch someone make pancakes (mmmmmm, paaaancakes…) and you see it start to bubble, it doesn’t hit you because after all it is just a pancake. But it’s really crazy! Where are these bubbles coming from? How/why in the world is it doing this? What’s going on here? If you really watch somebody who knows how to cook for five minutes it’s like “wow, how is this happening?” Now, before anybody gets all crazy we’re not talking about disregarding the chemical reactions and the science involved. It is understood (or at least it should be) that all of these things are working through a natural process, it’s just that we are so used to it being that way.

In the desert manna was as natural to Bnei Yisroel as bread is to us. The people who came out of Egypt and knew how bread was made, they went into the desert and saw the manna and were in awe of God. However, by the end of the forty years in the desert the people who were around had never seen bread before, let alone how it was made, they had only ever seen manna. So these people come into Eretz Yisroel, it’s the next generation and they say “so, what do we eat now?”

Imagine the scene, “well we’re gonna take this stuff and put it in the oven and then…” ”What!! Noooooooo, no way that works”. They must have been sitting there in utter amazement, “this is the biggest miracle in the world!! God, way to go!! How did you come up with this?” It would have been the same as the manna was to the previous generation!

And THAT is the crazy miracle the “Ani Hashem” from the second pasuk is referring to.


Thought I was just teasing huh...awwwwwww, would I do that...NO! I would not, for it would be cruel and unusual punishment to put forth the expectation of comic genius only to pull the proverbial newspaper from your grasp. Behold the mind of Gary Larson, a hero if there ever was one:


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