Moshe & Purim Part Four
Transcribed and prepared by Anna Beller: What are the failures of Moshe? We know that he hit the rock instead of speaking to it, but if we listen to the words that God speaks to Moshe describing Moshe’s sin, we hear something strange- Hashem says to Moshe- Vayomer Hashem el moshe ve el aharon– and Hashem said to Moshe and Aaron- Yaan lo hehamantem bi– because you didn’t believe it- le hakdisheni leinei benei yisrael– to sanctify Me the eyes of the Jewish people- lachem lotbiu et hatecol haze u la artez asher natati lachem– therefore you should not bring this congregation to the land that I have given to them. It doesn’t say because you did not listen to Me, He doesn’t say because you functioned in a way I didn’t tell you to function, or that you didn’t follow My instructions carefully and that to you, Moshe Rabbeinu it is more important for you to follow My instructions than it is for anyone else to follow My instruction. Obviously because if he’s the one who is always transmitting God’s will, so then for him not to follow God’s will is a terrible thing. But He says it’s because you didn’t believe in Me, and because you didn’t do what was necessary in order to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Jewish people.
How was Moshe’s action an expression of a lack of faith in God? And what was the failure of the sanctification? It may not have been as big a miracle but believe me if someone goes up to the rock and hits the rock and the rock supplies enough water for 600,000 men, 3 million people, cattle and everything, I think it’s a Kiddush Hashem. It’s a miracle. So if it’s not as big a miracle as it would have been had he spoken to the rock that’s not a Kiddush Hashem? It’s not a Chilul Hashem. How was it enough to sentence Moshe to die out in the desert and not be able to lead the Jewish people?
So Rashi explains it: Rashi says, look at the difference of the impact this miracle would have had on the Jewish people had Moshe followed God’s instructions. And the weakened impact because he didn’t.
Had he not hit the rock, the Jews would have said to themselves, look at this rock it doesn’t receive a reward when it’s told to do something and it doesn’t receive a punishment when it doesn’t do what its told. It still listens to God’s will although it receives no reward or punishment. We human beings who are rewarded when we obey God’s will and are punished when we don’t, certainly we must listen to what God says to do. But now that he hit the rock the people say the only reason the rock listened is because it was forced. So therefore no Kiddush Hashem was made.
I have a computer, and I say to my kids you know I don’t understand my computer does exactly what I tell it. Sometimes I don’t get exactly what I want but it does exactly what I program into it and I don’t give it a lollipop when its good, and the most I’ll do when its bad it threaten to hit it but I’m too scared that its too fragile to hit. To you I do give lollipops and I do hit you if you’re bad (not really) so you shouldn’t listen to me more than my computer does? Right wouldn’t you say that to your kids?
So why would the Jewish people have compared themselves to a rock? It’s unbelievable, its ridiculous that they would say oh a rock listens to God and therefore we should listen to God as well. And because Moshe did not prove that point that means that Moshe did not know that that was the most important point. And because Moshe did not know that that was the most important point, therefore Moshe did not fully believe in God. That’s what the verse is saying according to Rashi.