And Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived. (Bamidbar 21:9)
The Torah tells us that in order to stop the plague which affected Klal Yisrael, the people should fashion a snake, put it on a pole, and then whoever looks at it will be cured. To us, this obviously sounds like a miracle that needs explanation. In explaining this phenomenon, The Ramban tells us something very interesting about the world in which we live: He says that what a person sees can affect him so deeply that he can be physically harmed by just conjuring up those images and thinking about them. Even just mentioning the name of the predator can cause the person danger. So too, looking at the bronze serpent was an inappropriate remedy and counterintuitive. Therefore the Jew who see this will think “Why am I looking at this?” It isn’t good for me to look at this!” With this, he will connect with a directive given to him by Hashem, strengthening his emunah, doing teshuva and thus be cured. As Chazal tell us that it is not the serpent that heals, it is HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
We live in a time of digital technology where “taking pictures” is now an “obsession” of “snapping the camera.” However, the amount of pictures that are processed to prints—or even viewed later on the screen – has dwindled. It used to be that even an amateur photographer put forethought into taking a picture, making sure that he was capturing just the right moment, and when he would look at the picture later on, he would lovingly finger it, trying to reconnect to that which happened. Yes, that picture had value. Nowadays people say “Why bother looking at the printed pictures, as I have them on my computer!” The answer to that question is that knowledge that a picture exists does not bring you back to that point. There is a feeling that comes with gazing at and contemplating the picture that can actually transport you to a different place and a different time, stirring up emotions and feelings that are very potent.
Clal Yisrael was aware of the power of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, but did not stop to contemplate and think about the ramifications of their relationship with Him. When they gazed at the serpent it brought them back to the reality that they knew. We too must constantly reinforce and reconnect to that which we know. Your computer may know it, but do you?
Get the picture?