The Abyss of Distrust

by Rabbi Nussbaum

July 24, 2020
Av 3, 5780
Candlelighting Time 8:02 PM

This is Shabbos Chazon, the Shabbos preceding Tisha B’av. We ‘relive’ the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and attend to rectification of our conduct in a sincere effort which would lead to its rebuilding.  We are presently in exile which represents that we are distant in our relationshipwith Hashem. The challenge is to understand what has caused us to be in this situation and how we can successfully solve it.

Moshe spends an inordinate amount of time rebuking the nation for their sins. He dwells extensively on the catastrophic incident of the spies. Rashi explains with an analogy the ‘conversation’ that occurred between the nation and Moshe. On the one hand, Moshe was equated to one selling merchandise, in this case the Land of Israel. While the people are likened to a buyer, persuaded to purchase an item, to settle in Israel. The product is guaranteed to be in perfect condition, so the buyer is inclined to purchase the commodity. Therefore, the people should have been convinced that there wasn’t a need to scout out the area. However, this did not occur. Nachmonides explained in parshas Shelach that Hashem was angry with the nation because they had witnessed so many miracles, that they should have immediately concurred with Hashem’s guarantee and marched straight in to the land. So, the lingering question is why did they not have full reliance upon this and furthermore, their tearful night of despondency has caused us to remain in exile unto this very day? Where did they err?

When Moshe  berates the nation, he makes a very interesting comparison. He states that the same way a father cares for his son/child, so did Hashem worry and attend to our needs in the desert. Perhaps, therein lies the fallacy of the nation’s stance. Of course, they realized with stark reality the concern and interest that Hashem had displayed towards them in the desert with the clouds hovering overhead for protection, the traveling well and the manna from Heaven. However, what they did not process properly was not the extent of the attention lavished upon them, but rather the nature of their relationship with Hashem, it was a son to a father. That substantive theme would have answered every doubt that would have entered in to their minds. But, they didn’t comprehend that well enough to ward off the assault of their yetzer hora, their evil inclination that drove them to such a dubious and mistaken conclusion.  

So here we stand thousands of years later confronted with an exile that has been ruthless and harmful to our ongoing existence, yet we have survived the worst and we still have a passion to serve Hashem. Our faith has been tested in the most extreme situations and has endured crusades, pogroms and holocausts beyond our sane imagination. Yet, where is the Beis Hamikdash? Why have we not yet merited the return of the third Beis Hamikdash? And perhaps the answer is that we have not collectively addressed the defective attitude that plunged our forefathers in to an exile that we still have not escaped from, the fundamental discernment that we are like children to Hashem and just as a parent will not and does not abandon his child under any circumstances, so too Hashem has never forsaken His children. 

Maybe when we shed copious tears this Tisha B’av when we recite kinnos marking the myriad occasions of terror and hostilities that we have been subjected to throughout the generations, we need to also note that whatever we have endured it is with the infinite love and desire for the betterment of His children that we have lived through the ages.


The underlying message of Moshe’s rebuke to the nation was that when a person’s actions are debased, they corrupt the mind and interfere with one’s capacity to reason on a truly rational level.                       S’FAS EMES