• Gabbai

Ekev – How Big Need the Dragon Be?

It may just be my impression, but it appears that natural and unnatural disasters are growing alarmingly more common. Unless it just happens to be that the media is more on top of reporting disasters around the world, there has been a massive increase in such events in last few years. From all around the world we hear news of such disasters. Flooding, landslides, hurricanes. Cold snaps and terrible blizzards, heat waves with out-of-control wildfires. People trapped in coal mines, plane crashes, trains derailing and ships sinking, there is nowhere in the world that is immune to at least some of these events.

And disasters that cannot be attributed to ‘acts of G-d’ are more numerous as well: car bombs, shootings, missile attacks, knifings. Chemicals unleashed on civilians, terror imposed on the innocent, food poisoning, these too are inundating the columns of our newspapers in disturbing volume.

In this week’s Torah portion Moshe reiterates to the people that a result of the Israelites observance of the Torah and its dictates will be success and prosperity. Moshe goes on to encourage and give heart to the people that they should not fear from the strength of foreign nations. For just as He provided wonders and miracles that they had witnessed in Egypt, likewise G-d will enable them to succeed in the face of all the other nations they are afraid of.

Moshe bids the nation to remember all G-d has done for them during their long, 40 year journey in the wilderness. ‘You shall remember the entire road on which Hashem, your G-d, led you these forty years on the wilderness so as to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would observe His commandments or not.’ (8:2)

Moshe continues, describing the manna, the strange food they ate in the desert, as well as the miraculous resilience of the fabric of their clothing, which did not wear out in 40 years, and that their feet did not swell from walking in the desert.

So let’s get this straight: The Israelite nation was afflicted and tested in the desert. How