Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hitting the rock, hitting the Jews

Parshat Chukat

We read the story how the Jews complained about not having water to drink. Moshe was told to speak to the rock in front of the nation and water would come forth to satisfy the thirst of the people. Moshe hit the rock, the people drank and Moshe got punished for hitting rather than speaking.

In 20:12 Hashem punishes Moshe for hitting the rock, He says, “Because you did not have faith to sanctify Me in the eyes of Bnei Yisrael, etc..”. Rashi explains this verse that had Moshe spoken to the rock, the people would have extrapolated from the event that just as the rock was spoken to and did as it was told despite the fact that it receives no punishment for not listening, how much more so do I have to listen to Hashem’s word when I do get punished for not listening.

I was thinking about this “kal v’chomer” that the people would make to learn the lesson Hashem wanted them/us to learn. It seems that had Moshe spoken they would have naturally come up on their own with the above extrapolation. That means, I think, that now that Moshe hit the rock, they are coming up naturally with a different extrapolation. That kal v’chomer must have been – “Moshe hit the rock and it listened, so Hashem will hit us and we will listen (I.e. if we do not listen Hashem will hit us).”

If my thoughts are correct that the lesson we were supposed to learn was avoided and instead we learned a different lesson, it is understandable why Moshe was punished so harshly for a seemingly slight mistake (after all, hitting a rock to draw water is also a pretty big miracle). That would be because look at the lesson he taught them. He taught them (or at least made them think so) by his actions that God is a harsh God and quick to hit to have people act in accordance with His will. That is not the lesson Hashem wanted conveyed, because it is not true.

12 comments:

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice thoughts doesn't matter if no mefarshim say it. It could still be correct as long as we can learn s/t. Hey there are 70 leshonos I am sure this could be one of them. Rafi the all new commentator. You should write a sefer with your original thoughts. Hashem was very harsh as he had to be since that is the way it works with a tzaddik. When we see the whole story with explanations moshe hardly did anything wrong, thats what tzaddikim get for a slight misdemeanor.

Rafi G said...

that is true - everybody can interpret things as they understand them...
I have thought about it, but in reality I am writing it for free right now and you are reading it without even buying it!! Anyway, only a few people would buy my book, so not much of a point... but thanks anyway for the thoughts!

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

You have a pt there but take the compliment anyhow.

Rafi G said...

thank you

shaya g said...

that's possibly the 1st explanation for moshe's ounishment that I've heard that comes close to making sense to me.

btw, you'd have to send me your book for free, I wouldn't pay for it.....lol

Neil Harris said...

Maybe your answer is why the whole episode is viewed as a Chillul Hashem?

Rafi G said...

shaya - thanks. I would not think so.. :-)

Neil - it would make sense..

josh waxman said...

FYI, this post has been included in this week's parsha blog roundup here.

Rafi G said...

great. thanks. I was not aware there was one...

josh waxman said...

yes, I try to make a roundup of other noteworthy parsha-related posts about every week, when I can, in addition to my own posts. in fact, you were mentioned in previous roundups as well:

here:
http://parsha.blogspot.com/2006/06/parshat-behaalotecha-roundup-2006.html

and here:

http://parsha.blogspot.com/2006/06/parsha-roundup-naso.html

Rafi G said...

I can't seem to laod your site. I get a light blue background and that's it. it says done in the status bar at the bottom.. aybe I will try in firefox..

Rafi G said...

I can't seem to laod your site. I get a light blue background and that's it. it says done in the status bar at the bottom.. aybe I will try in firefox..