This time, God tells Moses that he can stand next to this giant rock, speak to it, and water will gush forth. Okay, says Moses. So he's standing there, in front of all the people, and he says,
“Listen, rebellious ones! Shall we bring forth water for you from this rock?”
Then he hits the rock with his staff. He goes the extra mile, you might say.
What Moses might have looked like standing on that rock, if Moses was a baby.
But God isn't happy, seeing as how Moses broke the first rule that you learn in Kindergarten and DID NOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. There's another interpretation (Nachmanides, yes I did my homework) that says that Moses' sin was saying "Shall WE" vs. "Shall GOD," which implies that Moses might have had anything to do with making a desert rock spout water. Right.
Either way, Moses was not using his listening ears. God yanked the privilege of actually crossing into the Land of Israel right out from underneath him, saying,
“Because you did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me before the eyes of the Children of Israel..."
This says to me that God doesn't need big, grand gestures or fancy words to be heard. Sometimes, less is more. And sometimes, doing something with humility speaks a lot louder than doing something with fanfare.
It also tells me that just because some members of the Tribe mess up sometimes, even our leaders, as a people, we can hold it together and be okay. (Thinking this helps me feel positive when I read Jean's hilarious weekly Jewish Fail Awards.)
Not such deep thoughts this week, but I love the story itself. I love that the interpretations of it are so different, and that we're still really not sure of its meaning today.
What are your reactions to this Parsha? What do you think Moses' sin was? Do you think he deserved what he got?
(D'var Torah for Parshat Chukat, Numbers 19:1-22:1)
(Photo Credit Elle Muhlbaum copyright 2011, OSU's own erev erev erev erev Rav, who just landed in the Promised Land.)