After crossing the Red Sea, "from the wilderness of Sin, the whole Israelite community travelled by stages at the command of the Lord, and encamped at Rephidim..." (Exodus 17:1). Our Sages ask, what is Rephidim? (Sanhedrin 106b; Tan'huma, Beshala'h 25); it means abandoning (rafui) the study of the Torah. Immediately after (id 17:8) "came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim." The previous verse says (id. 17:7) that " they tested the Lord saying: Is the Lord in our midst or not?"

After witnessing so many miracles, how could the Children of Israel degrade themselves to that point? We should be aware of the different types of pride: frank arrogance, when the person is conscious of it; hidden arrogance, when the person seems humble when in fact one can read the vanity in his face; and the pride of the just and honest man which "infringes" G-d's pride.

The remark made by the Children of Israel: "Is the Lord in our midst or not?" belongs to this third category. The Children of Israel told themselves: "Who are we so that the Almighty finds Himself to be with us?" By doing so, they tarnished the pride of the Holy One, Blessed be He, the only one "clothed in majesty" (Psalms 93:1). If they saw Him while crossing the Red Sea, it's because they were worthy of this. If He is not within them, on whom would He enforce His majesty and His pride? Because of Satan, the Children of Israel lessened the divine pride.

This is why Amalek, the incarnation of arrogance itself (note the similar numerical values between Amalek and Ram, 240), attacked them. The question "Is the Lord in our midst or not" affected G-d's pride, and since the Almighty judges "measure for measure", Amalek made them cold-hearted (cf. Deuteronomy 25:18)... Therefore, man must blot out the memory of Amalek (id. 25:19). But, if he senses a new attack about to come, it's a sign of pride and lack of humility. Commenting on the verse: "A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." (Exodus 17:16), the Sages (Tan'huma, Tetse 1l) explain that the name of the Almighty will only be perfect after the descendants of Amalek are extinguished. The name of G-d will no longer be tarnished once arrogance disappears.

We can see the negative effects of arrogance in the story of Elisha Ben Avuya's father, known also under the name of A'her (the Other) ('Hagigah 15; Tossafoth Shuvu). He invited the men in high places of Jerusalem to the ceremony of his son's circumcision... When they were discussing the Torah, flames came down from the sky and threatened the assembly. "If that is the power of the Torah, I consecrate my son to it", said Avuya. But since he wasn't looking for G-d's glory, the soul of his eight-day-old son, Elisha, was tarnished.

The same happened to Yerovo'am Ben Nevat (Sanhedrin 102b) to whom the Almighty says: "Return to the right path, and I, you and Ben Ishai, we will walk together in the Garden of Eden." Yerovo'am asked: "Who will be in the lead?" The Almighty answered: "Ben Ishai!" "I don't agree", said Yevro'am who couldn't hold back his arrogance.

In fact, the Children of Israel had some reasons to ask themselves, if they were worthy of "living together", so to speak, with G-d in the inferior worlds. Where does man come from after all? "From a putrid drop" (Avoth 3:1) Why, then, would G-d live with them? Isn't it written: "The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth has He given to the children of Men." (Psalms 115:16)? Their thoughts, therefore, can't be disapproved of. But we should believe that G-d governs each of His Creatures individually, even down on earth.

If we have doubts about this, it will affect G-d's pride and glory. This is the work of Satan who raises doubts in man's mind and makes him cold-hearted...Sometimes, he even converts man to atheism, G-d forbid. In the word HaYeSH one can find the Name of G-d YaH. It has the same numerical value (18) as GAaVaH (arrogance). As for the letter "shin", it has the same Gematria (300) as KaR, that is, the coldness of their heart brought on by their doubt: "Is He in our midst or not?"

In the month of Adar (Shabbat Zakhor), we read the biblical section referring to Amalek who is the incarnation of arrogance. But this month symbolizes humility, that of Moses, who was born and died on the seventh of Adar (Megilah 13b; Esther Rabah 7:13). In addition, the first day of the month, we read the weekly section referring to shekalim, warning us to stay away from money which leads to arrogance. In the word SHeKeL, shin has the same numerical value (300) as KaR. As for the last two letters of the word KaL (light), they make up the last letters of AMaLeK. Amalek makes man cold-hearted and prevents him from being humble: it is the work of Satan who only wants man to be arrogant. [Amalek is also 'AM KaL, light people. They were "light" because of arrogance. For instance, after circumcision, they would throw the foreskin in the air, laughing and blaspheming. Opposing views are represented on one side by Amalek who was arrogant, and on the other by King David who was humble and kind...]

Also, ADar has the same numerical value (205) as HaR (mountain), which represents bad inclinations for the Tzadikim (Sucah 52a; Zohar I, 190b). It is the Yetser Hara that fills man's heart with arrogance and prevents him from studying the Torah (Tan' huma, Ki Tavo 3). The Torah was given on a mountain and one can conquer it by studying in humility (Avoth 6:6). Before G-d gave the Torah, He forbid the Children of Israel of approaching Mount Siani as it is written: "Take care not to go up the mountain, or even to touch its edge..." (Exodus 19:12) for we should always avoid bad inclinations and trials. This why G-d chose the lowest mountain of the world to give the Torah.

One can ask, why did the dice thrown by Haman (he wanted to know which month would be ideal for the fall of Israel) pointed towards the month of Adar (Megilah 13b). It is because, as we know, there is no mazal for Israel (Shabath 56a; Nedarim 32a; Tikune Zohar 100a), that is, when the Jews engage in the study of the Torah, they aren't ruled by the constellations, as other nations are. The Jews are above nature. But Haman thought that the Jews neglected the study of the Torah and they were under the influence of constellations. The Almighty tricked Haman and this is why the dice pointed towards the month of Adar, but the children of Israel understood G-d's message. They decided to do Teshuvah, to devote themselves to the study of the Torah and to follow Moses's way (he was born in the month of Adar). The Children of Israel were born again as a result of this study.

We now understand,  why our Sages said: "When Adar starts, we should multiply our joy" (Ta'anith 26b). Why Adar in particular? Aren't there holidays in almost every month of the Year. It's that, after neglecting the Torah, the Children of Israel found joy again after they went back to studying it. Because "the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Psalms 19:9). As the Talmud teaches (Shabath 88a), they received Hadar (the splendor, the Torah) in Adar, in the time of A'hashverosh (cf. Esther 9:27).

"The people saw that Moses was late in coming from the mountain" (Exodus 32:1). Evil inclinations sow doubt in man's mind. "Is G-d really with us?" By saying this, one is  tarnishing the Almighty's name. Man should learn a lesson from the exodus from Egypt and only believe in G-d and Moses, His servant. Yithro understood that the question "Is G-d in our midst or not?" posed by the Children of Israel showed their humility, but it also could have showed feigned modesty...Nevertheless, Yithro understood the lesson, refused all honors and humbly came to the desert to hear the word of G-d. Now we can understand what Rabbi Yirmiyah Ben El'azar meant when he said that hell has one door in the desert, a second one in the sea and a third one in Jerusalem (Iruvin19a). In the desert, it's about Cain and Abel; in the sea, about the prophet Jonah; evil inclinations are also found in the desert as well as in the sea. The Yetser Hara is also in Jerusalem regardless of its holiness.

The desert also refers to the Sinai; if there is no humility (one of the conditions for obtaining the Torah), it then represents the first door of Gehinam (cf. Midrash Agadah, Hukath 21:19). The sea refers to the person who witnessed the miracle of the Red Sea  and who asks himself: "Is the Almighty with us?"; this is the second door to hell. Finally, he who goes to Jerusalem, the source of holiness without repenting or seeking good, is showing arrogance which tarnishes G-d's name. Every man should, therefore, strengthen his faith and be always humble.


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