INSIGHT: Bitter is Better – A Bittersweet Lesson

Bitter Sweet Water

Bitter Sweet Water   

Three days later, Bnei Yisrael arrived in a place called Marah. “Marah” means bitter. The town got its name from the taste of its awful, bitter water.

That was a major problem. If you were ever in a hot, sweltering desert, you know how fast people become thirsty.

Some people complained to Moshe, “We’re SO thirsty! What can we drink?”

“We’re delighted to find water, but it’s so bitter, we can’t put a drop of it to our mouths!”

“It’s disgusting! What if we die from drinking this water?!”

Moshe prayed to HaShem. Hashem responded by showing him a very bitter tree and instructed, “Take a branch from this bitter-tasting tree, and throw it into the bitter water.”

Although it sounded strange, Moshe did as he was instructed – and it worked! The bitter wood turned the bitter water into sweet, fresh water!

Better a bit of bitter wood than bitter water! (Say that fast 10 times!)

Bnei Yisrael drank the refreshing water, grateful for yet another miracle.

While the Jews were in Marah, HaShem gave Bnei Yisrael a few more Mitzvos (commandments) as a preview of all the Mitzvos that would later be given to Moshe on Mount Sinai, such as the Mitzvah of Shabbos and honoring one’s parents.

Shazak insight

Bitter is Better – A Bittersweet Lesson

How amazing! To sweeten bitter water, you’d probably throw in something sweet, like adding sugar to strong, bitter coffee. But HaShem is not at all bound by the laws of nature or logic. After all, He is the Creator! Even something bitter can be a sweetener – if and when HaShem wants. In this episode of the “Bitter Sweet Water,” HaShem teaches Moshe and Bnei Yisrael this lesson. The Midrash calls this a “miracle within a miracle!”

 And for this reason, comments the great sage, the Ramban, that the Torah says וַיוֹרֵהוּ ה’ עֵץ – “ –  And HaShem taught him a tree,” and not וַיַרְאֵהוּ ה’ עֵץ – “And HaShem showed him a tree.”

Indeed, this “bitter-to-sweet transformation” is also a lesson to us – it’s the secret of keeping healthy. You’ve probably been at the doctor’s office and got a vaccination shot that protects you against diseases like measles or chickenpox. Ouch! So, how do these shots work?

A vaccination contains a tiny bit of the actual bitter disease, so small and weak that it cannot make you sick, but just strong enough that it teaches your body how to react when it encounters the real sickness. Similar to the bitter stick that sweetened bitter waters, HaShem gifted us with a way to use the sickness itself to keep ourselves sweet and healthy!

BTW: This episode happened in a place called “Marah,” which not only means bitter – it is also related to the word “Morah,” translated “lesson” or “teaching!” How sweet is that?

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Can't you stop with Shazak already and take out the garbage?! C'mon already. Get to it or else I will report you to my husband, Haman!
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