Israel Forever

For the week ending 4 July 2009 / 11 Tammuz 5769

Serpents Then and Now

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

"Does the serpent kill or give life?" ask our Talmudic Sages in regard to the account in this week's Torah portion of the copper serpent which Moshe placed on a high pole so that the Jews bitten by a serpent could stare at it and be cured.

The answer they give is that it was not the biting serpent that caused death nor the copper one that saved life. It was rather a matter of Jews, who had brought the serpents upon them with their unreasonable complaints against Heaven, looking upwards to Heaven and submitting themselves to their Father in Heaven. This would be the difference between life and death.

The important lesson to be learned from this is that whenever Jews are threatened by serpents in human form their best remedy is to look Heavenward and commit themselves to serving G-d. There is no shortage today of such serpents threatening Jews in Israel and elsewhere. Even without a copper serpent to inspire us, we must apply the lesson of the Torah to secure Israel forever.

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