This week we read about G-d’s reaction to the people’s lack of faith after hearing the reports of the scouts, telling Moses, “I will strike them down with pestilence and disown them, and I will make of you a nation far more numerous that they.” (Numbers 14:12)
In response to G-d’s anger with the golden calf, Moses suggests a possible image problem, saying, “Let not the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from the face of the earth.’ Turn from Your blazing anger, and renounce the plan to punish your people … And G-d renounced the punishment planned for G-d’s people.” (Exodus 32:12,14)
To convince G-d this week, Moses warns of another potential “public relations” disaster, saying “The nations who have heard Your fame will say, ‘It must be because the Eternal was powerless to bring that people into the land promised them on oath that [that god] slaughtered them in the wilderness'” (Numbers 14:14-16). But then he appeals to certain attributes of G-d we first heard in Exodus. “G-d is patient, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Numbers 14:18). Finally, Moses pleads on behalf of the people, “Pardon the iniquity of these people according to the greatness of your mercy’ … And G-d said, ‘’I have pardoned in response to your plea.” (Numbers 14:19-20).
Each of us has occasionally reacted in anger when forgiveness – or at least taking a breath and counting to ten – would be the better approach. We would do well to remember the lesson Moses taught to G-d.
Ed Nickow | The Torah In Haiku