A chassid once complained to his Rebbe that he was struggling financially and wanted advice on how accept his difficulties.

The Rebbe sent him to see R’Zushe. R’Zushe was known as being the poorest man in town, his house was filled with illness and he was penniless and suffered even by the most serve criteria.

The chassid told R’Zushe that the Rebbe had sent him to understand how to accept suffering with love. Imagine the chassid’s suprise when R’Zushe responded that he couldn’t understand why the Rebbe sent him to see him. ‘Pain? The Rebbe must have meant to send you to someone else.’

After the miracle of the Yam Suf Bnei Yisroel led by Moshe walked the desert for 3 days ‘but did not find water’ eventually they arrived in Marah but ‘They could not drink of the waters of Marah, because it was bitter (15:23)’.

The Midrash states in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua that the waters in Marah were not bitter to begin with but became bitter temporarily until they were sweetened again.

The famous question is why would HaShem have caused the waters in Marah to become bitter when Bnei Yisroel arrived, why provoke the Nation with such a testing situation?

Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch explaining the Midrash comments on our verse. He notes that when translated literally the verse should read ‘because they were bitter’, not ‘it was bitter’. Tthe real reason that the water in Marah was undrinkable was because Bnei Yisroel were bitter. The water turning bitter was not a punishment but merely a reflection of the spiritual state of Bnei Yisroel at the time.

Chazal teach us that water is synonymous with Torah. Bnei Yisroel spent the 3 days following the Yaf Suf without ‘Living with G-d’, the Mechilta notes it is not surprising that the verse records the incident coming after 3 days without water. After davening to HaShem the response Moshe received on how to turn the bitter waters sweet seems to defy logic, to throw a tree brunch which was bitter into the bitter waters to turn them sweet again!!

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 56b states that 10 laws were taught to Bnei Yisroel at Marah including the quintessential chok of the Parah Adumah. The bitter waters were due to a lack of emunah in HaShem just like Moshe was instructed to redeem the waters with illogical method; Bnei Yisroel needed to be redeemed by having emunah in a seemingly illogical law.

To return to our beginning, it wasn’t that the water was bitter but rather Bnei Yisroel’s lack of emunah and bitter outlook that made it taste bitter. Sefer HaMa’amarim notes that only when you sweeten yourself does your water taste sweet.

The power of R’Zushe was not that he overcame his suffering but that he didn’t see the suffering to begin with.

Had Bnei Yisroel walked for 3 days with water (Torah) they wouldn’t have found the waters of Marah bitter.

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