This week we have really been spoilt; I mean we have both the 10 commandments and the shema in one sedra; and for anyone who prefers action to romance (that\'s the ahavas HaShem in the shema) there\'s a bit about cities of refuge ( ir miklat) for those who killed unintentionally. Anyway, I was really torn between two different divrei torah to say over this week, so like any good Jew, since it is free anyway I decided to say both (albeit a bit shorter than I would have written one alone)…

The first comes at the very start of the sedra. Moshe is praying to HaShem to let him into Eretz Yisrael, and basically says (3;24) \'you have started (\'hachilosa\') to show your servant Your Greatness and Your might that there is nobody else who can do like Your deeds and Strength.\' There is a little question which can be asked here. What does Moshe mean when he says that HaShem has only started to show His greatness; implying that HaShem will continue to show more later - surely Moshe knew that the era of open miracles in the desert was about to end and we would go into Eretz Yisrael, where there would essentially be no more open miracles? In short, why say \'You have started to show Your Greatness\' when the open miracles that showed HaShem\'s Greatness were about to end?

One answer comes via the Targum, which translates the word hachilosa not as \'begin,\' but as \'permitted.\' Thus, according to the Targum, Moshe is saying that HaShem has permitted to show His servant His wonders/greatness. Perhaps another answer can be ventured though...

We know that there are basically 2 ways HaShem runs the world; 1) via open miracles (eg splitting of red sea, 10 plagues, har Sinai), and 2) via teva (nature).

Open miracles are miraculous by virtue of the fact that we have got used to nature as being the norm, and thus an open miracle is amazing since it breaks the rules of nature. Bnei Yisrael in Moshe\'s time in the desert were living off open miracles - manna rained down every day for 40 years, and every time there was communal sin HaShem sent a form of plague to punish the wrongdoers almost immediately. Bnei Yisrael were about to go into their homeland, and the era of such open miracles was to steadily come to an end (they did still have prophets and some miracles in war, as the early books of neviim attest to, but it was not of the same frequency nor level as in the desert). The idea is that Teva (nature) is no less miraculous than open miracles in many ways. The fact that species are created perfectly; we breathe out carbon dioxide and need oxygen, whilst plants happen to do the reverse shows a complete harmony and order between the natural world. Or, for example, that birds\' bones are hollow and they have a different (quicker) respiratory system which allow them to beat their wings many times per second and have the weight to fly. Or, for example, the fact that the brain has 10 15 connections yet weighs just 1300-1400g (1015 is the equivalent of the following: take an area half the size of the USA and imagine it was forest containing 10,000 trees per square mile. If each tree had 10,000 leaves, the total number of leaves would still be 10 times less than the number of connections in a human brain!.) Or, lastly, that the adult human body contains 60 trillion cells which are all provided (and need to be) with exactly the right nutrients and waste is removed from them many times a day (R Waldman). It is no wonder that both the Rambam (hil. Teshuva) and the Ramchal (derech hashem) write that a way to come to HaShem is via peering into nature. The real miracle though is that HaShem set the system up with a perfect balance - it is not too clear that He created everything that people should not have bechirah (free choice), but it is clear enough that people can get to realisation of Him via nature. Thus, the gematria of hateva is elokim, yet teva is also from the root litvoa, which means \'to drown\' - since these are the two ways a person can deal with the natural world; to use it to get to HaShem, or to believe it to be a separate self-creating entity and thus effectively drown within it (R Tatz). Perhaps this is what Moshe was saying when he says that HaShem has only started to show His Greatness - since until now the relationship between Bnei Yisrael and HaShem was one of open miracles, but it is soon to be based on teva; which shows HaShem\'s greatness too.

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