Though this verse actually comes at the end of last week’s reading, it reverberates through this week’s portion.
There was no age in history when we did not echo Moses’ words. Life was unfair to the Jewish people. All we wanted was to lead our lives in peace and security, and things didn’t go according to plan.
Every time in recent years that I have encountered one of the places on the European Continent where there were great pre-war communities that now are sometimes even less than a shadow of the past, I asked God the same question: “God, why did You let it happen?”
I have to confess that no simple answer came forth, nor does one exist. There are philosophical theories that try to analyse the problem, but even when one or two seem to come a bit closer to a possible answer we hear Rav Soloveitchik warning us not to play with philosophy when there were and are real people in pain.
We also hear Professor Emil Fackenheim saying that the question is too big to allow for easy explanations… and our task is to handle the suffering, to find a way to go ahead with life.
In case I am told that this is an intellectual cop-out let me recall Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who said, “God, I can’t ask why I am suffering. All I can do is to ask You to assure me that I am suffering for Your sake”.
Is there then some reason why Moses not only confronts God but adds, “Why have You sent me?”
Maybe it is the leader’s recognition that it is his destiny to have to lead the people through the catastrophe, to assure them that despite everything God is with them.