No baby in their right mind would choose to be born. Leaving the warm, albeit cramped, haven of the womb, where gratification is so instant that there is no feeling of need, in order to enter a harsh reality mostly defined by lacking something- it’s no wonder they cry so much.
This is the cry of the Jewish people after they are forcefully pulled from the womb of Egypt through the birth canal of Yam Suf. From a world where everything was provided for them, they now face the barren desert. That God chose not to do what parents might fantasize about and only He is capable of, to continue perfectly providing for the people’s every need, carries a critical message.
When parents bring a child into the world, that is only the first of many difficult but necessary situations in which the child will feel that his parents are needlessly, inexplicably torturing him. Somewhere at the core of their cries, even before they learn to express it verbally, always lies the question/ bitter accusation- “Mom, Dad, why did you DO this to me?”
God’s first answer to this question, to instruct Moshe to throw a tree into the bitter waters, is explained by a wondrous Midrash quoted by Ramban.
‘And God showed him (veyorehu) a tree.’ The verse doesn’t say ‘to show’ (vayar’ehu) but ‘to instruct’ (vayorehu). God taught him His path, that is, he instructed and taught him that God’s way is to sweeten the bitter with the bitter.
A parent’s first instinct when hearing their child’s cries is to want to stop it as soon as possible, in any way possible (a candy, a screen, some combination of the two). That sends the message that, essentially, it really was better in the womb. The first thing we can teach our children is that this life’s bitterness, pain, and dissatisfaction are real, but in this world we live in, we sweeten the bitter with the bitter.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go. My baby is crying…
This is my own little insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. Chapter 15 was Thursday. I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation
What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at 929.org.il