The Three Weeks: Seeking Out God
When David brought the Ark, he erred and had it placed onto a wagon. […] Uzza approached to support the Ark and “God struck him there for the error” (Samuel II 6:7). Immediately, “And David was anguished, for God had inflicted a breach in Uzzah” (Samuel II 6:8). The Holy One, Blessed Is He, said to him: “Did you not say, ‘Your statutes were songs to me’ (Psalms 119:54) i.e., they are as easy and habitual as songs? Did you not learn, ‘He did not give any to the sons of Kehat because the sacred work was [incumbent] upon them which they had to carry on their shoulder’? ” David started sighing and he said (Divrei Hayamim I 15:13): “Hashem our Lord inflicted a breach in us; for we did not seek Him out as was proper”.
So too Moshe, because he said: “And the matter that will be too difficult for you, present to me and I will hear it”, therefore, the Holy One, Blessed Is He, weakened his strength. The daughters of Tzelofchad came, and the law was concealed from him, as it is stated (Bamidbar 27:5): “Moshe brought their case before God”. (Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas #8)
David’s reaction to his lapse was not: “I should have learned this law more carefully”, or “I should have remembered the verse better”. Rather, what he said was: “Hashem inflicted a breach upon us for we did not seek him out as proper”.
Moshe’s statement “And the matter that will be too difficult for you, present it to me”, came as a result of the system implemented by Yitro. A system that was practically sound when it came to judging cases, yet a system that failed to address one of Moshe’s most fundamental roles; “Because the people come to me to seek God” (Shemot 18:15).
David realizes the root of his error; he understands that Torah can never become habitual, and that destruction comes when we disconnect the law from its source.
Moshe is forced to bring the daughters of Tzelofchad’s case before God; it is a powerful reminder of his function as a conduit between the people and God as they seek Him out.
The generation of the destruction of the First Temple may have observed the commandments and been great Torah scholars, but they had lost their ability to seek God out. What followed was the walls being breached and eventually, the Temple being destroyed. I hear the echo of David’s words: “Hashem our Lord inflicted a breach in us for we did not seek Him out”.
I still hear the echo of his words today; each time we perform Mitzvot by rote, each time we study Torah and fail to be infused by its life-force, each time we focus on the details of the law instead of using it to connect to God.
Now is the time to repair the breaches in our lives; now is the time to remember what has been forgotten, reveal what has been concealed and rebuild what has been destroyed. Now is the time to become God seekers.