a href=”http://btya.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/logo-chadash-e1275560988767.jpg”>This week's Torah reading has one of the most disturbing, and tragic, events
which occurred in the Midbar, on par with the episode of the spies (which resulted
in the 40-year stay in the Midbar). This is the event of Mei Merivah, the
waters of Merivah, where it was decreed that Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen would
not be leading the Jews into Eretz Yisrael, but would pass away before entering
there. Besides the personal tragedy for them, it was a tragedy on a national scale,
for, as the Meforshim teach us, this changed the very nature of the Jews' entry,
making their capture of the Land occur through a more "natural " process, and ultimately
made possible the destruction of the Holy Temple.
Moshe (and Aharon) sinned, we are told; but amazingly, their sin is not explicitely
stated, nor clarified, by the Torah. A most cryptic possuk says: "You failed to
believe in me and to sanctify my name in the eyes of B'nei Yisrael–you will therefore
not lead the Jews into Eretz Yisrael (but rather you will die in the Midbar). "
What exactly did Moshe Rabbeinu do? Sefer Sha'arei Aharon, a contemporary sefer
which clarifies and explains basic peshat in the Chumash, Targum, Rashi, and the
major commentators, counts out no less than 23 (!) opinions from classic Meforshim
on exactly what that sin was.
We will iy"h clarify Rashi's approach, as explained and elucidated by the Maharal
in his sefer on Rashi, Gur Aryeh, and add some analysis.
Rashi famously says that HaShem told Moshe Rabbeinu to speak to the rock ; Moshe
became angry at B'nei Yisrael when they questioned if what he was going to do with
the rock was actually a miraculous intervention by HKBH, and he then hit the rock
instead (see Rashis on pessukim 10-12 and Gur Aryeh on possuk 12 ; this is the Maharal's
interpretation of Rashi))
This is all very cryptic and just about incomprehensible. What is actually the
difference between hitting and speaking to a rock to have water flow forth? Aren't
they both equally miraculous? And what in the world does this have to do with believing
in HaShem (possuk 12) ?And which sin caused it–the getting angry, or the ' hitting
– instead- of- speaking' ?
And isn't this whole incident being blown out of proportion? One small mistake,
Here is the Maharal's take on this (that is, my understanding of what the Maharal
is teaching) :
HaShem gave Moshe Rabbeinu a mission—to perform this miracle in front of the
entire nation of Israel (see Rashi posuk 10, who says that the entire nation was
miraculously gathered together in a way that they would all see the miracle).We
will see in a moment why speaking was crucial here(as opposed to the end of parshas
Beshalach where Moshe Rabbeinu was told to hit the rock)
Moshe Rabbeinu, having been charged with this assignment, should have reached
a peak of emunah. RamBan writes that the fruit of the tree of emunah
is bitachon, our obligation to rely on HaShem, and nothing else, in
every single thing that we do. As the Chovohs HaLevavohs writes in his introduction
to Sha'ar HaBitachon, having bitachon, truly relying on haShem that He
will be the One enabling you, is powerfully liberating! It enables one to be optimistic,
to relax, to be b'simchah, as one does what he/she does with the knowledge and realization
that one is relying on HaShem to succeed..And if I am comfortable that I am doing
the ratzon HaShem in what I am doing, I can be relaxed and serene.
On the verge of entering Eretz Yisrael, there was a requirement to break free,
as it were, from the effects of the spies' sin—-I.e, instead of crying and bemoaning
and wailing about what the future holds (as in Bamidbar 14:1), Moshe Rabbeinu would
speak to a rock, the waters would flow, and B'nei Yisrael would see that doing the
will of HaShem is as natural and successful and stress-free as any natural order
(see Rashi to possuk 12).
But B'nei Yisrael tested and taunted Moshe Rabbeinu–why this rock, why not that
rock, you know where there's a spring, what miracle, when miracle–And Moshe Rabbeinu
BUT, says the Maharal, there is NO PLACE for anger, for stress, for anxiety,
for anything but total simchah and optimism and joy as I go to do what I feel I
am charged with–my task, my mission, whether it be in life, or at that moment!
Says the Maharal–if Moshe Rabbeinu would have ignored this 'obstacle' of the scoffers,
and just gone ahead serenely, confidentally, and joyously, and spoken to
the rock, and would have had the total emunah and bitachon and joy in HaShem
that his mission would succeed–the Kiddush HaShem of the joy and optimism with
which one performs one's mission would have once-and-for-all eradicated the meraglim's
pernicious effects.K'llal Yisrael would have entered Eretz Yisrael with Moshe Rabbeinu
at their helm, conquered the Land with their emunah, and a never-to-be-destroyed
Beis HaMikdash would have been built.
But Moshe Rabbeinu was angered.He somehow got rattled by the nation, and was
no longer joyously confident that he would successfully complete his mission.And,
in his anger, he felt he had to force the rock into submission, that his
mission had been altered, been made more difficult, now there are obstacles, we
have to beat the rock…not simchah, but anger. Not serenity, but anxiety.
Not the natural tendency for fulfillment of ratzon HaShem but browbeating into submission.
This flaw in emunah/bitachon, the loss of joy, leaving a vacuum where there could
be anger, allowed a hitting instead of a speaking.And thus Moshe was told "You,
too, cannot enter Eretz Yisrael" and, as is strongly implied in Devarim 1:37, Moshe
now becomes enmeshed in a spy-like flaw, having missed an opportunity to be mekadesh
shem Shamayim through joy and confidence in his mission and eradicate completely
the spies' pessimism and angst. He is therefore told that he, too, would not be
entering Eretz Yisrael.
The lesson, the message? Rather obvious, I would think: Serve HaShem with
Joy! The personality of an oved HaShem should not be one of a dour face, anxious,
nervous, even angry at times–but rather one radiating joy, optimism, serenity,
and good cheer.
May any zechus accruing from anyone taking this lesson of the iniquitous
effects of anger to heart, be utilized for the zechus of a refu'ah shelaymoh for
Yeshaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel