Questions and Suggested Answers

Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz

Question 1

Read the extract from Ha-Ketav Ve-ha-kabalah. What other important problem does the commentator solve besides the one dealt with in our discussion?


Rav Yaacov Zvi Mecklenberg, author of Ha-Ketav Ve-ha-Kabalah, addresses the matter of God "testing” a human being. Given the fact that the Almighty is omniscient, what is the purpose of testing anybody since God already knows in advance if one will pass or fail the test? In commenting on the test of the manna, Rav Mecklenberg really explains the purpose of a test in all of life's situations. The test results are to be a lesson to the individual being tested – the individual learns to recognize his/her inherent strengths and weaknesses. Ramban, in his commentary on Genesis (22-1) on the Akeida, makes a similar point; the purpose of the test was to actualize Abraham's potential. After the test, Abraham realized and understood his own commitment to God’s word.

Question 2

In what way does the approach of the Biur in explaining the phrase "that I may put them to the test" (anasenu) differ from the other commentators cited?


According to the Biur the "test" is an exercise (building block) in developing within the individual the characteristic of faith in God. According to the Ha-Ketav Ve-Ha-Kabalah, faith in God already exists inherently within each individual. The test makes it possible to express it. The same would be true about Ramban's interpretation. The "test" clarifies what is already there.


Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem




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08 Sep 2005 / 4 Elul 5765 0