This week begins the fifth and final book of Torah, Devarim (Deuteronomy). Near the end of his life and the conclusion of the 40-year journey in the desert, Moshe (Moses) addresses the Children of Israel. He reviews the events that occurred during the journey and the laws given. In going over the story of the spies who reported negatively about the Land of Israel, Moshe says: “You spoke slanderously in your tents and said, ‘Because the L-rd hates us, he took us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand[s] of the Amorites to exterminate us.’” (Because the spies gave their negative report on the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, this parsha always is read before the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which is observed this year on Sunday, July 29.)
Moshe’s account differs from the original version in Torah (Bamidbar/Numbers 14:2): “All the Children of Israel complained against Moshe and Aharon (Aaron) and the entire congregation said, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert.’” Why in his retelling does Moshe introduce a new detail – the people saying that G-d hates them?
Rashi explains the psychology behind the people’s supposed hatred. He cites what he calls a “popular saying”: “That which is in your heart about your beloved is what [you imagine] is in his heart about you.” In other words, the people are disappointed and angry at G-d. In order to mask their resentment towards Him, they project their hatred onto Him. G-d really loves the Israelites, but because they feel hatred towards Him, they mistakenly feel that He hates them.
Writes Rochel Holzkenner on chabad.org: “[By referring to the people’s hatred] Moses is making a powerful point. G-d loves you even if you’re angry, resentful, or even hateful towards Him…When we’re able to realize that G-d loves us, despite the disappointments in our life, and despite our palpable bitterness towards Him, then the anger begins to melt away in the face of warmth and care. The circumstances may remain painful, but the anger begins to dissipate.”
As parents, we love our children as G-d loves us – unconditionally. Unfortunately, when we discipline our children or make unpopular decisions, they might become disappointed or resentful towards us, failing to understand that our actions are out of love and our desire to protect them. We must patiently endure their hateful words and continue to love them unconditionally, knowing that deep in their hearts they really love us as we love them.