Chukas: Try Not to Forget G-d

This week my wife and I took our Annual “What? We Have Children?” Vacation together.


We rented a small car for two days, and put my 12-year-old daughter in charge of everybody.  On the first day, we drove parallel to the Lebanese border, visiting random sites and places.  We went from the sea to where the Kinneret would be (but further north).  Then drove south near Haifa so my wife could visit IKEA (of course), followed by a trip to the Mediterranean after sunset.  We returned home at 11 p.m.  The next day, we took care of the kids and headed towards the Golan where we visited a hiking site with 10 minutes of water-hiking.  Went to daven in Meron, did some food shopping, and returned home in the middle of the afternoon.


We clocked in around 500 km of driving, and for a former Chicago guy, driving in the mountains is still a blast!  Too bad we have to wait for next year to do it again.


Okay, on to more important things.


(It’s a good thing I’ve been learning all these mishnayos, or I wouldn’t have what to say this week!)


“G-d sent poisonous snakes against the people, and when they began biting the people . . . God said to Moshe, ‘Make for yourself [the image of] a venomous snake, and place it on a banner . . . . Everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live’” (Bamidbar 20:6-8).


When the Jewish nation was plagued with poisonous snakes, Hashem told Moshe to build a copper snake for all to look at, and then they would be saved.  Of course, it wasn’t a matter of “Look at the snake and your life will be saved,” but rather they would look at the snake, be reminded of what they did, and daven to Hashem to be saved.


“Six things King Chizkiyahu did, on three of them, the rabbis agreed with him, and on three, they disagreed with him . . . they agreed with him when he ground up the copper snake and hid the book of cures (which Shlomo HaMelech wrote that would cure everybody from whatever ailments they had)” (Pesachim 4:9).


Before and during his time, the Jewish people started taking this snake a bit too seriously, giving it the status of a god.  The same with the “Book of Cures,” people started turning to IT instead of turning to Hashem!  Therefore, Chizkiyahu destroyed the snake and hid the book, so people would once again turn to Hashem for help.


In today’s world of advancing technology, we become more and more sure of ourselves to be able to solve all sorts of problems.  Cancer?  A matter of time. AIDS? Coming close. Food supplies? Working on it.  Computers in every home in Africa? Coming up!  Technology will save us all!


Just recently, the government issued a warning to the residents of northern Israel that if we don’t have a good rainfall this winter, they might begin turning off the water for several hours every day.


So, now what?

We’re living in a first world country (granted, with a third-world mentality sometimes, but it keeps things fun), which is responsible for some of the best leaps in modern technology.  Yet, the entire north is facing a water crisis.


When a person is sick, he goes to the doctor.  When he needs a job, he searches around and speaks to people.  When he has an issue with some government body, an Israeli would find a friend or family member who works in the same office to bypass that problem.  All these things are fine, and are things that we are supposed to do.  But we CANNOT forget that, despite everything we do, EVERYTHING comes from Hashem, and we need to constantly daven for Him to provide us with what we need.


Have a great Shabbos!


Michael Winner