Why God chose to speak from a bush

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO — Moses flees for his life after killing the Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave. He settles in the oasis of Midian, which was located at the base of Mt. Sinai. He marries the Priest of Midian’s daughter and becomes a shepherd.

One day as he was tending his sheep, he came upon a wondrous sight: “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed.” (Ex. 3:2) God spoke to Moses and told him to return to Egypt and to order Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to go free.

A non-Jew once asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha: “Why did God appear to Moses out of a bush rather than another kind of tree?”

Rabbi ben Korcha answered: “If God would have spoken to Moses out of a carob or sycamore tree, I wouldn’t have been able to answer your question. But since God spoke to him out of a lowly bush, there is a good answer: it is to show us that there is nowhere in the world that God’s Presence cannot be found. Not only in the glory of the highest tree, but in the lowliest bush as well.

Rabbi Yosef Leib Nandick observed that people often question why the types of miracles we read about in the Bible no longer occur today. He answered that miracles do exist today, but they are different than the miracles of the past. Today’s miracles are manifested in nature. If we look carefully at the natural world, we can see that it is filled with God’s glory, and when something wonderful happens, the Divine Presence is revealed within.

Every day and every place is filled with God’s glory and God’s miracles. All we must do is open our minds and open our hearts to recognize them.

Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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