19:4 …and I carried you on eagles’ wings…
Rashi quotes Chazal on this verse, telling us that just as an eagle caries its young on its wings and says “Better the arrows should enter me than my child”, so too Hashem protects Klal Yisrael at His own risk. The question is obvious: What risk are we talking about? Hashem can do whatever He wants, so what personal risk is there in protecting Klal Yisrael?
Sometimes people do things that are difficult to explain to others. Often the reason for this is because the people in the periphery are unaware of the history which brought about this special relationship, and so it seems to them as favoritism. There are those who will ask “Why did Hashem play favorites to Klal Yisrael?!” We find this in last week’s parsha when the Yam Suf says “These are idol worshipers, and these are idol worshipers! Why are you saving the Jews and not the Egyptians?” Again, in the medrash of parshas Nasso, we find in Birkas Kohanim that Hashem is questioned “Why do You have a favoritism to the Jews?” and He answers “Because they make a blessing after they eat even an olive-sized amount of bread, when I have only commanded them to do so when they are satiated.”
Even at times when we have answers to the questions and are totally justified in what we are doing, there still might be an outward appearance of doing something wrong. Imagine driving along Nachal Ayalon on Friday night with a family member in danger, lying in the back seat. In your brain you know that not only are you justified for “violating” the Shabbos, but you are even doing a mitzvah of saving a life at the same time. Yet, to the onlookers who only see you driving, it appears as if you are desecrating the Shabbos, for they do not see the patient in the back seat. When given a chance to explain, you could easily “pull the file” and show proof that you were driving to the hospital, but yet there is an uncomfortable feeling at the actual time of driving. No one can damage Hashem and He has no arrows from which to be afraid. Yet sometimes His interactions with us may, in a certain sense, put Him at risk of being judged unfairly. (Not that Hashem has to defend Himself against others.) The issue with this is that we don’t see uniformity throughout the design of the entire Creation.
I pondered that although this is true, why is this mentioned at the time of accepting the Torah? It should have been mentioned at a time when Hashem seemed to have done something that was unfair, such as saving us and not the Egyptians in the Yam Suf? It seems to me that the answer is that this kind of behavior is the result of a relationship, the result of Klal Yisrael’s willingness to unquestionably follow Hashem in the desert, and to accept the Torah without knowing what is inside. This indeed cultivated a unique relationship, and is an explanation of why it is indeed “fair”. A father has a special relationship with his son: He is not concerned with what others think of his son’s treatment, and this relationship is not similar to the relationship that the father has with others. So too Hashem has a special relationship with his children, the Bnei Yisrael, and He is not concerned with what onlookers might say or feel.
Many times we ask Hashem to grant us our desires, though we do not deserve them. It seems to me that when we, at different times, show our “passionate love for Hashem,” we will bring about a response equal to or greater than that which is reasonable.
This week, as we align ourselves with accepting the Torah, may our “irrational verve” bring about magnificent results.