The Bush is Not Consumed
In the Book of Exodus the Torah describes Moses’ first prophetic experience (Exodus 3:2-4:17). We are told that Moses said to himself: “Let me turn and see this great sight; why will the bush not be burned?” We are then told that God saw that Moses had “turned to see” so God called to Moses from the bush.
The narrative of the Torah makes it clear that it was entirely possible for Moses not to “turn and see” the burning bush. If Moses would have chosen the path of ignoring the burning bush we get the impression that God would not have spoken to him. It is only because God saw that Moses “turned to see” that God then called and spoke to Moses.
There is a deep lesson to be learned from this detail of the Scriptural narrative. We tend to enjoy our comfort and complacency and we tend to avoid concepts and ideas that we sense may upset the smooth flow of life to which we have become habituated. These ideas may be awesome and wondrous but we avoid looking them in the eye because we are frightened that we may have to move from the “business as usual” mode.
One concept which has the power to shake us from our sense of complacency is the burning bush of history. For the past several thousand years the Jewish people were but a bush on the landscape of human history. The Jewish people were dwarfed by the mighty nations around them in terms of power and wealth as a bush is dwarfed by the tall trees that surround it. The fury of these trees was directed at the Jewish people so that they were constantly faced with the fire of hate. Yet the bush did not get consumed. The Jewish people are still here as fresh and as vibrant as ever.
This holds true not only on the physical level but on a spiritual plane as well. The belief system of Judaism has faced the fires of hate, ridicule contempt and vilification in both Christian Europe and in the lands of Islam. Yet the bush is not consumed. Walk into the study hall of a Yeshiva and you will see how the bush is as verdant and lively as ever.
Look and allow yourself to be impressed by this wondrous phenomenon. Stop to absorb the miracle of Jewish survival. Don’t just walk on but “turn to see”.
Remember; if Moses would not have “turned to see”, then the greatest prophet we ever had would have missed his calling in life.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal