Vertluch: Parshas Chukas


In this week’s parsha, we learn about the death of Miriam. At that time, the well that supplied klal Yisroel with water had dried up. Bnei Yisroel then began complaining to Moshe Rabbeinu that they had no water, which led to Moshe committing his aveira of hitting the rock instead of speaking to it.

It’s interesting to note that the rock that Moshe hit was the same rock that previously produced water and served as the well for klal Yisroel in the desert.  The gemara in Taanis (9a) states “three excellent leaders arose from Israel; Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. And because of them three gifts were bestowed upon klal Yisroel. Water, in the Midbar, was in the merit of Miriam; the Ma’an was in the merit of Moshe; the clouds were in the merit of Aharon. When Miriam died the water stopped and subsequently, when Aharon died the clouds departed.  Both the well and the clouds, returned in the merit of Moshe.’

If Moshe was worthy enough for us to receive these gifts, why was it necessary for it to stop upon the death of Miriam and then begin again in Moshes merit? Why not just keep the water flowing?

The Maharsha answers that Hashem wanted klal Yisroel to know in whose merit we were zoche to have the be’er in the Midbar. First, we had to recognize who the gift was from; in whose merit we benefited from the water in order for us to properly acknowledge the tribute. Once we had that, we were then able to have the proper hakaras hatov. Hashem was showing us, that in order to have the proper hakaras hatov one must first acknowledge exactly where it came from; that will allow one to give proper hoda’ah to the one they owe it to.

Rav Elyashav, Shlit”a, recently underwent a very serious surgery. Prior to beginning this complicated procedure, the non Jewish surgeon approached the Rav and asked him for a blessing that it should be a success. When surgery was over, Rav Elyashav-who only speaks Yiddish and Hebrew-asked someone how to say thank you in English. He wanted to do something special; something above his natural ability to show his hakaras hatov to the surgeon. Although he doesn’t speak English in order to stress the importance of it-and to give the proper hoda’ah to the surgeon-he felt it appropriate to learn how to say thank you in a language the surgeon would understand.

In the last two weeks klal Yisroel unfortunately has lost three of its Torah leaders. One must acknowledge the tremendous amount of z’chusim that this generation had, due to these Talmidei Chachamim. The mere fact that we have bread to eat is because of our Talmidei Chahcamim. As the gemara in Sanhedrin says ‘anyone who says ‘what did these Talmidei Chachamim do for me’ he loses his portion in Olam Haba’.

Why is this so? What is the reason that one loses his portion in Olam Haba?

Rav Chaim Volozhin Zt”l, answers, that our basic food staples are supplied to us because of the z’chusim of our Talmidei Chachamim. However, one who says that he has no personal gain from Talmidei Chachamim is in essence saying that he doesn’t wish to use the Talmid Chochoms ‘line of credit’; he wants to use his own account.  That, explains Rav Chaim, is why the gemara says he loses his portion in Olam Haba. If he’s using his own account then he’s using up his credit!

It is important for each of us to recognize who’s giving us our daily nutrition throughout our lives. Although we may not ‘see’ it we must understand that in essence, it is the gedolim who are keeping us afloat and allowing us to continue our activities of daily living. 
May we all be zoche to be mindful of our supporters; we hope that in this merit their impact can affect us in improving ours avodas Hashem.



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