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Parashat Shemot - The Troubles of Love...
Marc Chagall

The Troubles of Love

Further thoughts on Parashat Shemot

by John J. Parsons

People tend to believe what they want to believe until they are faced with reality, and therefore God orchestrates tests and challenges to awaken people from their illusions to make them confront their need for deliverance. Such afflictions are called yissurim shel ahavah, "troubles of love." Thus we read in our Torah portion this week how the people groaned because of their slavery and then cried out to heaven for help: "And God heard their groaning; he remembered his covenant ... and God saw the people of Israel, and God knew" (Exod. 2:24-25). Note the pattern: The people cried out for help; God heard (וַיִּשְׁמַע); he remembered (וַיִּזְכּר), he saw (וַיַּרְא); and he knew (וַיֵּדַע)... God knows our profound need for Him. Affliction teaches us that wishful thinking is unable to sustain the weight of reality, and only God Himself can truly save us...

Where it says, "How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily" (Psalm 13:2), the sages remark that just as long as we take counsel in our own soul there will be despair, since only after we realize that no further counsel can help us do we give up and confess our need for God's salvation. Therefore בְּטַח אֶל־יְהוָה בְּכָל־לִבֶּךָ, "trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).

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