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Vertluch: Parshas Chukas

This weeks parsha discusses the incident of the mai merivoh, where Moshe committed an aveiroh that ultimately led to his punishment of not being allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel. This aveira is of great significance because had he gone into Eretz Yisroel, the medrash says, the Bais Hamikdosh would have been built immediately and would have never been destroyed. All the exiles, suffering and pain that klal Yisroel experienced throughout history would have been avoided had Moshe gone into Eretz Yisroel. And yet the Torah is extremely vague and unclear about what exactly the aveiroh was; Hashem said to Moshe and Aaron, ‘Since you did not have faith in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of bnei Yisroel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly to the Land which I have given them.’ (20; 12)

The rishonim attempt to define these vague words and offer different p’shatim in trying to pinpoint the exact chait. The sefer Haikrim suggests that the chait was, that Moshe was not mekadesh shem shomayim because he did not attempt to draw water from the rock on his own accord and trust that Hashem would fulfill his will. When Moshe heard klal Yisroel complaining that there was no water, he should have taken the initiative and made an effort to draw water from the rock.

These words, however, seem somewhat puzzling. All of the miracles that Moshe preformed in Mitzrayim were all done following Hashems orders. Krias yam suf, the mon, the slov and the bier Miriam were all carried out as commandments from the Ribono Shel Olam. Why do we suddenly hold Moshe liable for not initiating and attempting to perform a miracle on his own accord?

The Meshech Chochma explains that it was because this incident occurred after the confrontation with Korach. As Korach began challenging the authenticity of Moshe and began falsely accusing him of favoritism, the reputation of Moshe’s integrity was on the line. So Moshe responded by challenging Korach and his cohorts to a test that would validate his truthfulness and expected Hashem to back him and create a new form of death. He anticipated that the unnatural occurrence of the ground opening its mouth and swallowing all his challengers along with their belongings would solidify his faithfulness and erase any doubts created by Korach. It was because of this that he was expected to initiate drawing water from the rock. For when his own reputation was being questioned and doubted he expected Hashem to change the natural course of the world to prove him right. Yet, when klal Yisroel began complaining of thirst he didn’t feel it was necessary to attempt to change the natural course of the world. That could lead to some cynics saying that he is only concerned with his own honor and not the honor of Hashem and His people. He was expected not to mislead people into thinking that he is only concerned with himself and not the honor of Hashem.

It was known, that Harav Shach z’tl would refrain from putting food into his mouth every morning before nine o’clock. When asked about this seemingly strange custom he responded with a powerful lesson. He said; every morning at eight o’clock there are millions of non frum kids that walk into a classroom to begin their day. But their day does not begin with modeh ani nor does it begin with shema Yisroel. Their day begins with zero mention of the Ribono Shel Olam. Their day starts without acknowledging the gifts and favors they receive from Hashem. What a chilul Hashem! How can I possibly sit down and eat in a time of the day that the Ribono Shel Olams name is being desecrated by millions of Jewish children.

We all should be zoche to have feelings and emotions of being mekadesh shem shomayim and treating the honor of the Borei olam as our own.


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