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by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And [Moshe] said to them, 'Listen now, O rebels'" (Bemidbar 20:10)

In our perashah, Moshe Rabenu made a tragic error which blemished an otherwise illustrious career. When the people complained about the lack of water, Hashem told Moshe to speak to a rock that would give them water. Forty years earlier, in a similar situation, Hashem told Moshe to hit the rock, but this time, the instructions were to speak to the rock. Moshe chose the wrong rock and no water came out. In desperation, Moshe hit a rock and water came out anyway. According to the Rambam, Moshe's sin was not the fact that he deviated from Hashem's instructions, but that in his anger, he called the Jewish people rebels.

Years ago Hashem said to hit the rock and now He said to speak to the rock. Why the change? Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky brings a Midrash that explains this point. When a child is young and can't be reasoned with, his parents sometimes must hit him.. As the child matures, he must be spoken to. All of the miracles in the desert, such as the rock giving water, were elevated or diminished according the level of B'nei Yisrael. Since the Jews matured, the rock also "matured." The level of the miracles reflected the level of the Jews. However, when the people rebelled, Moshe no longer considered them mature, so he didn't speak - he hit.

This remains difficult. Didn't Hashem consider the people mature? Didn't He command Moshe to speak, not to hit? In truth, the people were on a higher lever. But once Moshe called them rebels, they felt like rebels. They became rebels and the rock reacted in kind. Hashem was angry at Moshe for classifying them as rebels.

We have the ability to make frustrated students, children or employees realize they are very special. We can elevate them or denigrate them. The way we treat people - that is the way they react. Shabbat Shalom.

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

After Miriam passed away and the well which provided water for the Jewish people dried up, Moshe was told to speak to a rock which would become a source of water. When Moshe spoke to the rock and no water came out, he hit it twice, and although water came gushing forth, he and Aharon were punished that they would not be allowed entry into the land of Israel. What is amazing about this episode is that years before, in a similar situation of no water for the Jews, Moshe was told to hit the rock! Why all of a sudden is hitting the rock incorrect and only speaking to the rock the right way?

The Rabbis tell us that in the beginning year of the career of the Jewish people, hitting a rock was appropriate. But after forty years of being guided by Hashem, we must mature enough that the miracles should happen with words rather than by hitting. This is comparable to a child who has to be hit when he is young, but afterwards only a word is necessary. We have to learn from here that what was acceptable in the beginning of our career has to be upgraded as we get older and wiser. We should not be doing the same thing year after year, rather we should be mature enough to serve Hashem in a more advanced way. What was good enough for children is not good enough for adults! Shabbat Shalom.


"The Priest is impure until evening" (Bemidbar 19:7)

Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki said that the essence of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), and the whole procedure of purifying those who were spiritually impure, is the concept of "Love your neighbor." His grandson, Rabbi Mendel of Vorki explained that this is because the kohen who was involved in the purification process became impure himself by the same process that purified the person who came to him. When someone loses out himself in order to help someone else, that is the ultimate love for one's fellow man.

A person who is not willing to make any sacrifices for other people will always find reasons why it is too difficult for him to do acts of kindness for others. To help others takes time, energy and money. But when someone truly loves another person, he feels pleasure in all of the sacrifices that he makes for him. The greater your love for someone, the more sacrifices you are willing to make. Therefore the test of your level of love for your fellow man is the amount of sacrifices you are willing to make. One who is not willing to make sacrifices shows that he lacks love for others. (Growth Through Torah)

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