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Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar 5780

Ein Ayah: Internal and External Belief

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 11:13)

Gemara: Reish Lakish said: One who suspects those who are innocent gets bodily afflictions, as it says: “[Moshe said of Bnei Yisrael:] They will not believe me” (Shemot 4:1), and it was clear before Hashem that Israel would believe. [Hashem] said: These are believers the sons of believers, and you are going to eventually not believe. They are believers, as it is written: “The nation believed” (Shemot 4:31). They are sons of believers, as it is written: “He [Avraham] believed in Hashem” (Bereishit 15:6). You are going to eventually not believe, as it says [regarding the punishment for Moshe’s hitting of the rock]: “Since you did not believe in Me” (Bamidbar 20:12).


Ein Ayah: The high levels of belief in Hashem cannot be compared to any other impression that knowledge makes in the world. That is because it is a segula (special quality) that is the foundation of all of life and the light of a person’s essential life and glory. This segula of belief in Hashem, with its internal value that has no comparable distinction in the external world, is unique to Israel. It is not something that one acquires based on choices he makes, but it is a function of our holy lineage, inherited from the patriarchs.   

In this internal segula, no impediments have power. Even if one rebels strongly in regards to the external elements of religion, such as actions, emotions, and cognitive thoughts, a holy segula as part of the “portion of Hashem” still lives in his midst, which makes him believe in Hashem. If we evaluate the strength of one’s belief based on these external manifestations, there can be failures in belief because the hidden light of belief does not shine there. Actually, such a failure can even affect the greatest of the great, who are the pillars that uphold the highest sanctity.

This is the secret of the sin of the “waters of quarrel.” For a brief moment, the holy eyes of the shepherds of Israel (Moshe and Aharon) looked in the direction of the revealed side of belief. Since in this element, the populace of Israel was blemished, the trustworthy shepherd (Moshe) reached the point of anger. In this revealed realm of the power of belief, an impediment to the great light of the spirit of the holy Moshe arose. This prompted Hashem to say that the regular people are believers the sons of believers, as this refers to their level from the perspective of the segula of belief. In other words, they have two layers of belief, that which is rooted in the forefathers and that which branched out to the children.

“To the contrary,” said Hashem, “you, Moshe, will eventually not believe. If you judged Bnei Yisrael’s belief by the external indications, then you will be tested in a similar manner and fail.” Heaven forbid, Moshe would not have strayed even for a moment from the foundation of sanctity of belief that he, as a righteous man, possessed. His lapse was only due to the fact that the people upset him to the point that it resulted in improper speech. But that was the test of faith that was presented in the most demanding way. This proved that there is a difference between the belief that one has internally and that which he expresses externally. Thus, from Hashem’s reassurance that even simple Jews were believers the sons of believers, we can extrapolate how strong the foundation of eternal belief was among the students of Moshe. After all, he was the strongest of the believers of Hashem, as he was “the man of G-d” and the master of prophets.

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