Torah portion EIKEV Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25
Moshe defines the difficulties and the trials that the people of Israel underwent in the wilderness as a “test/ LeNasotcha”.
And you shall remember the entire way on which Hashem , your G-d, led you these forty years in the desert, in order to afflict you,to test you ( LeNasotcha), to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not..( Deuteronomy 8:2)
One needs to understand whether it is even possible to consider that Hashem needed to test the people of Israel in order to for Him to see what they would do and to sense what was in their hearts?
Hashem is clearly aware of what they did, are doing and will be doing. So then what is being revealed in these words “ ( LeNasotcha), to know what is in your heart”?
The word Lenasot carries several meanings which interconnect in a way that reveals a deep understanding and great insight for us in our own lives.
The word NES ,on the one hand ,is the Hebrew word to describe miracles. We see in the Torah portion that being aware of our miraculous continued existence is critical;
“Will you say to yourself, ‘These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?’ You shall not fear them. You shall surely remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt: The great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm with which Hashem, your G-d, brought you out. So will Hashem, Your G-d, do to all the peoples you fear.(Deuteronomy 7:17–19).
Yet on the other hand we read “You shall not test ( Tinasu) Hashem, your G-d, as you tried Him in Massah.( Deuteronomy 6:16).
That is to say that we are not meant to depend on miracles – Lo Lismoch al HaNes. (Bava Metzia 106). The Talmud Yerushalmi has an identical teaching and explains that the words “not to depend on miracles” means that one is not to desist from one’s obligations in the natural and wait for miraculous intervention from the supernatural ( Yerushalmi; Yoma 1:4).
So which is it, to depend on miracles and divine intervention as we read “You shall surely remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt”, or not?
In addition the word NES also means a banner.” Lift up the banner( NES) upon the the walls of Babylon, reinforce the the guards and the watchmen)( Jeremiah 51:12).
So the root is connected to the concepts of Miracles, of Testing and of Banners. How do all these interconnect?
There are times wherein we humans lose the faith that we are capable or are worthy enough of the task. Hashem then puts us through the tests and challenges in our lives accompanied with signs and wonders. All this, so that we would clearly see that our walk is being guided by the Divine hand from above and is therefore within our capabilities. That is to say the NES/Miracle is also a NES/Banner that is proclaiming that there is a Higher power in charge of our existence and is intimately involved in our lives.
And He afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live. Your clothing did not wear out upon you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.( Deuteronomy 8:3-4)
Yet one wonders where is the test in all that? If Hashem is performing miracles then how is it possible to ignore them and go astray?
Yet that is exactly what happened, again and again.
Miracles are awesome Banners. Yet they are that when someone looks to the heavens and sees them fluttering in the wind. If one on the other hand, because of feelings of inadequacy or of arrogance focuses all of his or her attention to just what is right before him or her , on the ground below , the miracles pass him or her by.
There are times ,as well where miraculous events, make us feel like bystanders and not worthy of taking the step forward to heed “the call”. We are living in a time of incredible miracles all around us. Our very existence is a miracle and a banner to the world. This land flowering and blossoming in spite of the challenges and difficulties is a miracle and a banner to the world.
That then is the Test.
Do we have the courage to look up to the Heavens and understand that we have been given an opportunity to walk this walk into a destiny that will not only enable us to flourish and grow but will truly be a banner for the whole world.