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    The bush is not consumed – Sh’mot

    Moses & the burning bush, from the Holman Bible, 1890

    Moses & the burning bush, from the Holman Bible, 1890

    The Burning Bush has intrigued millennia of human beings.

    How is it possible for a bush to burn and not be consumed (Ex. 3:2)?

    One approach is to see the bush as God’s message through Moses to the Children of Israel.

    Weighed down by their enslavement in Egypt (Ex. 2:23) and suffering from what Shakespeare calls “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, the Israelites were assured by the Burning Bush metaphor that although charred, they would survive and build a new future.

    It could also symbolise the Torah: as in the Talmudic story of Chananyah ben Teradyon (A.Z. 18a), the Torah suffers attack and misrepresentation in every age, but its power is eternal.

    All these and other interpretations must be seriously considered. But there is a further possibility: that it is the story is symbolic of the individual human being.

    Aflame with an idea, a feeling, a mission, a belief, there is always a danger that one will catch fire and be destroyed.

    The danger is real but it is not inevitable. A great achievement of Jewish spirituality is that the mystic does not leave the reality of the mundane world.

    There is a verse that speaks of being angelic, seeing God but still eating and drinking like ordinary human beings (Ex. 24:11).

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