Pirke Avot Chapter Five, verse seven

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We are continuing through the fifth chapter of the Avot, and the history of the universe in tens, from the translation of R. Travers Herford:

With ten trials did our fathers try the Holy One, blessed by He, in the wilderness, as it is said: —And they tempted me these ten times, and hearkened not to my voice.

What’s interesting here (which is not the proof list of ten trials, which I won’t bother with) is the reciprocity with verse four in which the Divine tries Abraham with ten trials. Mr. Herford distinguishes between the divine discipline with which Abraham was tested and the human insolence with which the Divine was tested. I’m not convinced. I mean, yes, the situations are not truly reciprocal, and some of the times we tested the Divine Patience was by our incessant whining. I don’t think that any of Abraham’s trials were putting up with the whining of the Divine. On the other hand, a trial of patience is a trial of patience, and the Sages placed the verse here for a reason. I think we should look at the trials as part of the ongoing relationship—yes, we are human and the Divine is infinite, but there is something akin to a human relationship going on. We test each other, we love each other, we hurt each other, we help each other, we stay with the relationship past reason and derive joy beyond hope. It’s a love story, right?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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