Perception of Reality vs. Seichel
וירא העם כי בשש משה לב:א
Rashi brings the Medrash that the Satan showed them an image of “Moshe Meis”, Moshe is dead. It wasn't an eerily shaped cloud in the sky, the sky didn't go dark, there was no dramatic music playing in the background. Rather, the pshat is that Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu tests us by making the Satan the conduit through which we perceive the reality in Olam Ha’zeh. For example, if the scientists say that the world is five billion years old and have all their proofs, we may be inclined to feel that that is the actual reality. That is the effect the Satan has in Olam Ha’zeh! By Klal Yisrael in the Midbar, the conduit of the Satan caused the perception of reality to be “Moshe meis”. Moshe said he would come down, he hasn't, and it doesn't make sense for him to just be late. Elah mai, the only option is “Moshe meis”! The nisayon is to follow our yediah b’seichel - what we know to be true based on clear logical reasoning, and not excitedly jumping to conclusions - over our perception of the reality. Our knowledge is that Moshe will come down, so even when faced with a seemingly conflicting reality, we must follow our seichel!
Note that the key word in the sordid event of the eigel ha’zahav is “vayar”, the People saw. That of course is referring to their perception of the reality as “Moshe meis”. The perception that brought about the whole disaster. It is not a coincidence that the key word in the cheit eitz ha’daas of Adam and Chava is likewise “va’teireh”, Chava perceived the fruit of the eitz ha’daas to be greatly beneficial for her – as the Nachash Ha’Kadmoni, the archetypal symbol of the Satan, had wanted to convince her. Of course, reading the storyline, it is obvious that that was a very superficial way of looking at things. Had she thought about the matter from an objective point of view – and not just jump to conclusions based on how she perceived the reality at that moment – she would have recognized that it was a very, very bad idea for her to eat that fruit and she would not have done it. So too, the “vayar” of the People in the Midbar when they thought “Moshe meis” was just a superficial perception and brought them to an erroneous conclusion with tragic repercussions. We see, then, how important it is to not get swept up in a superficial way of looking at things. We always have to keep our wits about us and follow our seichel. What we know. Not what may appear to be the perceived reality at any given time.
(Related by Reb Natan Gershonowitz and Reb Yehuda Eisenstein)
Provided courtesy of VayigdalMoshe.com