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Parshat Chukat

In a quote: "When things are steep, remember to be level-headed" - Horace

This week we revisit the infamous story of Moses hitting the rock. Let us remind ourselves of the story:

"and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. Thus you shall produce water for them from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts.” Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He had commanded him. Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock; and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?" And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank."

Much has been said on these verses. There has been extensive conversation by our Rabbis pertaining to the reasoning behind Moses' actions as well as the eventual punishment handed down by God to Moses which sees him end his tenure as leader of Israel on the cusp of entering the land of Israel.

The story is tragic. Moses pays the fatal price for a momentary lapse in concentration in which the pressure of leading the perpetually complaining people of Israel become overwhelming. According to some, the greatest sin of Moses was not the physical hitting of the rock but rather his reference to the People of Israel as "rebels".

Although it seems to be a rather docile slip of the political tongue let us try and find a contemporary parallel to this:

Imagine you are a nagging child who is persistent in their request for a particular item from a parent. The parent resists, you persist. The call and response dance continues until the parents loses patience and lashes out. Whether it be a scream, a gasp of exasperation, the game is over, the dance is done.

It is important to remember that when people look up to us that more than anything they admire our demeanor and the way we carry ourselves. Moses failed to keep a cool head, shattering the image he had built for himself. Let us not make the same mistake.

Shabbat Shalom.

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