middot patience torah patience muscles

patience muscles

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-movingrockMost of us have heard it said, at one point or another, “all good things come to those who wait.” We have also probably heard, “you can’t always get what you want.” For the most part we think of patience in relationship to those things that are eventually coming to us. This week’s parasha (Pinchas) reveals a deeper level of patience.

The LORD tells Moses to go and look upon the land of Israel, knowing that he will never arrive there with the people (Numbers 27:12-14). It was because of an act of impatience with the people that Moses is not allowed to enter the land with them. When bringing out water from a rock for the people to drink, he struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. On the one hand, the punishment could seem rather harsh given the offense. It’s not like Moses killed someone! On the other hand, God’s response is directly related to the offense. Because Moses could not be patient with the people, he will have to be patient with them for an event he will not live to see.

There are things our recent generations have seen that men and women of the past could have only hoped for. There are things our generation is working towards that only future generations will see. This dynamic works out different patience muscles. The ability to work diligently toward a future we will not see in our lifetime is demonstrative of an abiding patience that extends beyond our individualized temporal experiences. The promise of resurrection may mitigate the pain to some degree, but not neutralize it entirely. We want to see the fruit of the seeds we sow but we can’t always get what we want!

So as we flex our patience muscles this week, may we be reminded of Moses and realize that the ultimate source of patience is realizing that God has it all under control.

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