Parashat Shemot 5777: Why a bush?
“The righteous as the palm will flourish, as the cedar of Lebanon will grow” is a known verse from Tehilim, Psalms, 92. There are many trees and bushes that appear in the Bible as metaphors of human characteristics. In this verse the palm symbolized the righteous that their actions give many fruits, many students and therefore influence their surroundings. The cedar is tall, a symbol of physical strength. Therefore, it is even harder to understand why does God reveals Himself to Moses on a simple bush and did not choose something more impressive. A tall cedar? Something with nice flowers? The rabbis gave us a few different answers to this question. For Rashi, the bush is a symbol that God will always be with us in difficult moments. As the bush is found everywhere, He will be everywhere to support us. The fire would be the hardships waiting for us in the way. Rabenu Bahya Ben Asher believed that God revealed Himself in a bush because the word bush in Hebrew (sne) has the same root that that Sinai. So, the fire on the bush suggests the fire that will be on the mountain during the giving of the Torah. God wants to show Moses a little of what is coming in order to emphasize that he Moses will be the one to receive the Torah. I like the most the answer of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Karcha in the Midrash Bereshit Rabbah. He understood that the bush teaches us about the humility that every person has to have in order to feel the presence of God in the World. It is easier to feel the power of the Creator in front of a wonderful natural view, a gigantic tree, the majestic mountains. People travel to far places to experience this. However, God, the Creator of the whole World, reveals Himself on the simple bush to teach that He is also present in the humble bush, not only in the tall cedar, and everywhere and in every moment it is possible to feel His presence in the World. Maybe the merit of Moses was to be able to see and find his God in the simple bush, maybe because he was such a humble man himself. May we be conscious of the presence of God in the World, his Shechina filling every place, from the tall mountains to the small bushes. May we be as humble as Moses and maybe also capable to see God in the simple things of daily life. And the fire of the bush, the fire of Sinai, our Holy Torah, will be an eternal flame that is never consumed.