“But they did not listen to Moses because their spirits were broken and because of the hard labour”
My mother often used to say that “we should not cry to God only in the winter”. She had no patience with the idea that people might call on God only when they wanted something, nor did she approve of people turning to God only during difficult times. Perhaps God shares something of her perspective?
The quoted verse from Parashat Va’eira might remind us that it is possible for hard times to be the cause of us not turning to God in prayer—and also of our disregard of His promises. Sometimes hard times can be so absorbing that we close our ears to His supportive advice or our eyes to the solutions He may be trying to show us. Often this is because we are simply too focussed on our selves, or on our own opinions, or on the apparent impossibility of the “tasks” we are struggling to perform. His interventions are not always as dramatic as those of the Exodus even though they may be just as much a demonstration of His Hand at work.
At other times we do not “cry out to God” because we are “simply having a wonderful time, thank you” and so don’t feel the need. This is obviously even more shameful a situation: we are forgetting that every breath we take in and breathe out is a gift. (In the quoted verse from Parashat Va' eira, my artscroll Chumash translates "broken spirits" as "shortness of breath"--the original idiom being "mikotzer ruach")--We are forgetting that Providence is not Fate, but the mercy and generosity of God who sustains all—regardless of any lack of gratitude on our part.
Whether we are up or down, whether we are panting for breath under heavy labours or sighing with pleasure and contentment...may we never forget the One who performs miracles in every moment, and who offers to lead us out of Egypt, if we would only let Him.
January 20 2012