Joe and Gertrude were bickering loudly as they drove down I-95 in their ’82 Cadillac. “Look at us now,” shouted Gertrude, clutching the passenger door. “I sit on one end of the seat and you on the other.” She sighed with nostalgia. “Remember when we’d drive as newlyweds? We’d sit closer together.”

“Gertrude, my dear,” her husband interjected, “I’ve been sitting in the same spot for the past 30 years—right in front of the steering wheel. You’re the one who’s shifted over . . . ”

Don’t all dynamic relationships have their ups and downs? I’d think it would be no different in our relationship with G‑d. There are moments of love and gratitude, and moments of anger and frustration.

During the Israelites’ 40-year trek through the Sinai Desert, there were great times and there were painful times. What a radical thing to say: “G‑d took us out of Egypt because He hates us!”Before Moses passed away, he took the time to reflect upon the tumultuous experience they’d shared. As a life coach, he analyzed their most challenging experiences and drew profound life lessons for the future.

One such painful drama that Moses rehashed was the negative report about the land of Israel given by 10 of the spies who scouted the land 38 years earlier. Frightened that they’d be unable to conquer the land, they discouraged the people from even trying. Pandemonium spread. The thought of an impossible, even suicidal battle against the strong Canaanite nations was petrifying.

Moses vividly paints the atmosphere of fear and paranoia:

You spoke slanderously in your tents. You said, “G‑d took us out of the land of Egypt because He hates us! [He wishes] to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites and destroy us!” (Deuteronomy 1:27)

What a radical thing to say: “G‑d took us out of Egypt because He hates us”! Yet, when the story of the spies played out in real time (in the book of Numbers), the Torah doesn’t mention this radical accusation.

Here’s how the Israelites’ reaction is described in Numbers (14:2):

All the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the entire congregation said, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert.”

Although pretty despondent, there’s no mention of G‑d hating them.

So, come Deuteronomy, and Moses is not just repeating the story, he’s adding a new element to the crisis.

Notice that Moses qualifies his words: “You spoke slanderously in your tents.” They didn’t make this ridiculous, slanderous claim publicly; they didn’t dare. It was only after everyone had gone back to their tents that they furtively whispered and complained that G‑d hated them.

There were two types of slander. The claims that they made publicly were based on a reality—the odds would be against them if they battled for Israel. But in private, they spoke a slander that was patently untrue. G‑d didn’t hate them; He loved them, and He’d shown His love for them countless times.

Why does Moses feel the need to disclose their furtive remarks? According to the biblical commentator Rashi, Moses was telling them the following: “He [G‑d] loved you, but you hated Him, as in the common saying: ‘What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you.’ ”

It was really you who were disappointed and angry at G‑d, Moses explains. In order to mask your resentment towards Him, you projected the hatred onto HimBut in order to mask your resentment towards Him, you projected the hatred onto Him. You whispered that G‑d hates you, that He’s out to get you.

But does not the very aphorism that Rashi cites—“What is in your heart about your beloved, is in his heart about you”—contradict the present context? The Jews here “hated” G‑d, while G‑d maintained His love towards them. By all accounts, their hearts were far from reflecting one another!

But here’s how the Jews mirrored G‑d’s heart: “How unfair,” they lamented. “G‑d hates us, even though we love Him.” The crisis over the spies’ negative report wreaked havoc. On the surface of their consciousness, the Jews felt that G‑d had rejected them, hated them. Lying under the surface was intense resentment towards G‑d for promising them a land that seemed impossible to conquer.

In fact, the opposite was true: G‑d loved them despite their resentment towards Him. Here’s where Rashi’s rule plays out precisely. “What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you.”

Moses is making a powerful point. G‑d loves you even if you’re angry, resentful or even hateful towards Him. And if you have a hard time believing this possible, remember your own experience: You, who thought that G‑d hated you even though you loved Him, know what it’s like to love unconditionally.

Moses wanted to bring this dynamic to their attention. G‑d’s love is unconditional. This knowledge is not only heartwarming, it’s also healing.

How often does this play out in our lives? Life is disappointing or frightening, and we immediately point the finger at G‑d: You hate me even though I have nothing against You!

Moses brings a little objective self-awareness to the table.

Flip around your perspective and you’ll be able to empathize with G‑d’s experience. Flip around your perspective and you’ll be able to empathize with G‑d’s experienceHe has nothing against you; in fact, He loves you, despite the fact that you currently hate Him.

When we’re able to realize that G‑d loves us, despite the disappointments in our life, and despite our palpable bitterness towards Him, then the anger begins to melt away in the face of warmth and care. The circumstances may remain painful, but the anger begins to dissipate.

If we can experience this classic epiphany—that G‑d loves us, even as we wallow in pain and resentment—we will have no choice but to love Him back.1