Chukas – How Much Do You Believe In Hashem?

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There is a book mentioned in this week’s Torah portion of Chukas called “The Book of Wars of Hashem” (Bamidbar 21:14). What is this book? Where is it today?  Why is Hashem quoting it in His Torah? The Ibn Ezra is of the opinion that it is a separate book and written inside it are the wars of Hashem that were waged for His G-D fearing followers. It began being compiled in the days of Avraham Avinu.  This book and  many other books  have been lost to antiquity, like The Words of Nosson and Ido, or The Chronicles of Kings of Israel, as well as the Songs of Shlomo and his Parables. The Daas Zekeinim adds that “The Book of Wars of Hashem” mentions the victory of Sihon over Moav, which the Torah just alluded to in the previous pasuk; the point being that Hashem orchestrated that one nation would fall into the hands of the other.

However the Ramban has a slightly different take on this, which could be an eyeopener. It takes us to task for how much we actively relate to belief in Hashem. The Ramban says that the simple understanding of “The Book of Wars of Hashem” is that in those generations there were intellectuals who wrote about the great wars of the time, and it took place in every generation. The authors of these books were called Storytellers, for there were many parables and highfalutin phrases mentioned inside these books. They attributed the incredible victories in those wars to Hashem because it was in fact the truth. The victory of Sihon over Moav was wondrous in their eyes and therefore they wrote it in this book. (Click here for the Hebrew text.)
These intellectuals were historians who do not seem to be Jewish based on the context of the Ramban, and though they lived in a heavily polytheistic time in history they were able to attribute the incredibly wondrous battles and victories, even amongst two non-Jewish neighboring nations, to Hashem. Why? Because it was the truth!

What a curious phenomenon! Imagine a historian writing a book on the history of American wars, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, America’s involvement in the two World Wars, etc. Do you think he would call it “G-D’s Wars”?!

But in fact, if you think about it, it is the truth, as the Daas Zekeinim points out: Hashem enabled one side to fall into the hands of the other. What is incredible is that those historians back in the day were able to recognize that and acknowledge it. Granted the whole world at the time heard and felt the rumbles of the miracles at the Red Sea and at Mount Sinai, but that was almost forty years previous, and they were still very involved in their worship of idols. It took intellectuals to think logically about what the truth was; but it took a lot of courage for those intellectuals to admit and publicize it. For that matter it was worth it to Hashem to acknowledge them in His Torah.

All the more so us Jews, the personal princes and princesses of The King Of All Kings, who have an even more personal relationship with G-D, b’chasdei Hashem, should find and acknowledge the kindness of Hashem in every step of our lives.