When the Sadducees tried to argue that Shavuot comes on the Sunday after the first Shabbat in Pessah (because the Torah says "the day after Shabbat") Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai countered them sharply as follows:
"Fools! From where have you derived this?" And there was no man who answered him, except for one elderly man who was prattling [mefatpet] at him, and he said: "Moses, our teacher, was a lover of the Jewish people and he knew that Shavuot is only one day. Therefore, he arose and established it after Shabbat, in order that the Jewish people would enjoy themselves for two days." Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai recited this verse in response: “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the way of Mount Seir” (Deuteronomy 1:2)" He added: "And if Moses, our teacher, was a lover of the Jewish people, why did he delay them in the wilderness forty years?" The elderly man said to him: "My teacher, you dismiss me with this retort?" Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai replied: "Fool! And will our perfect Torah not be as worthy as your frivolous speech? [Your claim can easily be refuted.]" [Menachot 65a-b]
Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai's retort, "And if Moses, our teacher, was a lover of the Jewish people, why did he delay them in the wilderness forty years?", seems strange and appears to denies God's love for Israel. What did he mean? Is this discussed anywhere?