“Oh, you have no idea!”
Between all the popular expressions around today, this one is among the most annoying ones. For some reason it’s become common to emphatically inform people that whatever information they thought they had about an incident, forget about it: “You have no idea!”
And yet, G-d, the great Trendsetter in the Sky, has allowed this expression to go viral. So let’s see if we can’t discover some useful wisdom in it.
King David writes in Chapter 117, his shortest entry in Psalms (loose translation): “Hey nations of the world! Sing praises to G-d for His powerful kindness to Israel.” And although it might seem strange to expect everyone else to thank G-d for Israel’s miracles, King David knows of what he speaks. Because while Israel might be aware of the miracles that saved them from known threats, only their enemies and G-d know about the plots and schemes He foiled before Israel ever found about them — unknown miracles for unknown threats. And so King David calls upon Israel’s enemies to praise G-d for the miracles He wrought for Israel that Israel will never know about.
Thus, when Israel thanks G-d for all His miracles, G-d might smile and say, “Oh, you have no idea!”
Consider this week’s Torah portion, Balak. The evil but capable prophet Bilaam is hired by the equally malevolent King Balak. Balak is observant enough to see that the Israelites are Divinely impervious to sticks and stones and mighty armies, so he schemes to beat them at their own game: prayer and spiritual energy. So he asks Bilaam to prayerfully curse the Jews into oblivion (G-d forbid).
The two of them ascend a towering mountaintop, peer down onto the Israelite camp below and start the proceedings. But despite Bilaam’s best efforts, the attempt at genocide backfires when G-d converts Bilaam’s curses into magnificent blessings, strengthening the very People he sought to annihilate.
And the most amazing aspect of the whole story? The Jews below are oblivious to the two villains looking down at them from the peaks — oblivious to the threat and oblivious to the Divine intervention.
In fact, the only reason we know about the story at all is because G-d told us the story as part of the Torah. Which leaves us to wonder about everything He did that He never told us about.
Thus, when Bilaam and Balak hear us thanking G-d for all His miracles, they might roll over in their graves and grumble, “Oh, you have no idea.”
May G-d watch over and keep all of us, our families and our loved ones. And may we never forget to express our gratitude and humble thanks for everything He has given us and everything He has done for us. And let us never forget, that just when we think we have seen it all and we believe we’ve beheld the depth of His goodness and protection, He smiles in Heaven and whispers to our souls, “Oh, you have no idea.”
Baruch Hashem, thank G-d! PJC
Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel is the executive director of the Aleph Institute-North East Region. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.