Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone umayim ayin lishtose" - They were in the desert for close to forty years at this point. Why did they suddenly complain that they were in a location that sustained no vegetation, nor had drinking water?

2) Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo | m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone umayim ayin lishtose" - It seems most illogical to complain about not having exotic fruit when they were also lacking a most basic need for sustaining life, water.

3) 20:21 "Va'yeit Yisroel mei'olov" - Why did Hashem have Moshe ask the nation of Edom permission to pass through its land, knowing that Edom would not grant permission, and that the bnei Yisroel would have to detour their land?

4) Ch. 20, v. 24: "M'ri'sem"- We see that Moshe did not comply with Hashem's command, thus rebelling. But how did Aharon rebel against Hashem? It seems that he did absolutely nothing.

5) Ch. 20, v. 26: "V'Ahoron yei'o'seif u'meis shom" - Why didn't Moshe beg Hashem with all his might that Aharon be allowed to live longer and enter Eretz Yisroel, just as he pleaded for himself?



1) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that until Miriam died there was such an abundance of water flowing from her wellspring that it enabled plants to grow. (A strong indication that there was such a wealth of water can be found in T'hilim 78:20, "Hein hikoh tzur va'yozuvu mayim uncholim YISHTOFU.") Now, upon the death of Miriam the water totally ceased to flow. They therefore complained that they had no water to drink or to sustain vegetation.

2) The Malbim asks three questions on this incident, starting with the bnei Yisroel's first encamping in Ko'deish.

A) Why does the verse says "VA'YEISHEV" ho'om b'Ko'deish" (20:1), rather than the more common "va'yichan" or "va'yachanu."

B) Why did they suddenly complain here about the inhospitable conditions?

C) Why did they wait until after the death of Miriam and after the incident of "mei m'rivoh" (verses 7 through 13) to send a message of intent to the king of Edom (verse 14), and not do so immediately upon coming there, as they did with Sichon the king of Emori (verse 22)? He answers that they were now at the edge of the land of Edom, one of the three lands, Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni, whose lands they were promised as their inheritance, along with the lands of the seven nations occupying Eretz Yisroel. Entering with Moshe would have ushered in the Messianic period and their conquest and inheritance would have immediately included the three Trans-Jordanian lands as well. They therefore did not camp there, but rather "VA'YEISHEV," they settled there, thinking that they had come to the eastern border of their permanent inheritance. Upon seeing that it was arrid and uninhabitable, they complained, saying that the promised land was not fit for agriculture, and had no water either. They did not send a message to the king of the land requesting permission to traverse the country because they planned to conquer and inhabit it. However, this hinged upon Moshe's meriting to enter Eretz Yisroel along with the rest of the bnei Yisroel. After the death of Miriam which led to the lack of water and eventually to Moshe's "sinning" by the incident of "mei m'rivoh," they were informed that Moshe would not enter the promised land, and they realized that they would only conquer the lands of the seven nations in Eretz Yisroel. Only after this, when they knew that they would not conquer the three Trans-Jordanian lands they instead planned to only traverse the land on their way to Eretz Yisroel. Only then did they find it necessary to ask for permission.


If we pay attention to the cantillation accompanying these words we find a PSIK, a sign of separation between the words "lo" and "m'kome." We thus read these words as follows: You have brought us to this bad place. "Lo," we would not complain regarding its (lack of) ability to produce figs, grapes, and pomegranates. However, we are complaining because "umayim ayin lishtose." We lack the basic necessities to exist, as we lack water. (K'hilas Yitzchok)


The Abarbenel answers that this was all-important. The nations were terribly afraid of the bnei Yisroel, having noted their miraculous success against those who stood up against them. Hashem wanted Sichon and Og to stand up against the bnei Yisroel so that the bnei Yisroel would capture their land. Noting that the bnei Yisroel reacted with cowardice when threatened by Edom, they were willing to fight them.


The Zayis Raanon answers that the Yalkut Shimoni remez #763 says that we find that Moshe hit the rock twice, "Va'yach es ha'sela b'ma'teihu paamoyim." If Moshe did not listen to Hashem by hitting the rock rather than speaking to it, why was it necessary to mention that he struck it twice? Herein lies the answer to the previous question. After Moshe hit the rock once, Aharon should have stopped him from hitting it again, knowing that this was not Hashem's will.


The Ponim Yofos answers:

1)Aharon's death was clearly spelled out

2) or that by Hashem's mentioning that Elozor the son of Aharon should accompany them up Hore Hohor, it indicated that Elozor would take over the position of Kohein Godol, and the benefit of another person cannot be rescinded

3) or that Moshe's act was somewhat unintentional as he came to anger, or that Moshe only prayed for himself after a Yom Kippur passed, while Aharon died on the first of the month of Menachem Av, before Yom Kippur

4) or that Moshe only prayed after he had an indication that Hashem would be willing to annul the decree.

It is interesting to note that the M.R. 19:9 says that Moshe did pray to Hashem to rescind His decree against Aharon.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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