With All Your Soul
"And Moshe sent emissaries from Kadesh to the king of Edom (Bamidbar 20:14)." Why did Moshe Rabbeinu himself send these emissaries? At a later encounter with a different enemy, Sichon, the verse states that Yisrael (and not Moshe) sent the emissaries. What is the difference?
Rav Yonason Eibushitz answers this question with a deep insight. Which event immediately preceded this encounter with Edom? The sin of "May Meriva". Miriam's death left Klal Yisrael without their source of water, the miraculous well. The nation quarreled with Moshe. Hashem instructed Moshe to speak to the rock, and it will bring forth water. Instead, he hit the rock, a sin that cost him dearly. Now he would not enter the Holy Land. His life would end here in the desert.
The Bnei Yisrael were dismayed. They wanted their beloved leader to live. To cross the land of Edom was the short way into the Land of Israel. They would prefer a different, longer route, taking more time, thereby prolonging Moshe's life. They would not send the emissaries to Edom. What did Moshe do? He sent the emissaries himself. Why? Didn't he want to live longer?
There was something more dear to Moshe Rabbeinu than life. Hashem had made a promise to Avraham Avinu, to give the Land of Israel to his descendents. Moshe was on the verge of bringing the people to the gates of that land. How could he put it off? Yes, his life hung in the balance. However, being the shaliach (agent) to fulfill that Divine promise, made to his great ancestor was worth more than life itself.
Kinderlach . . .
We recite Kriyas Shema twice daily. "And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Devarim 6:5). Rashi explains "with all your soul" to mean giving up one's life for the love of Hashem (if it comes to that). Moshe Rabbeinu was ready to bring his life to a close in order to fulfill Hashem's promise. Before you say Kriyas Shema, kinderlach, think about Moshe Rabbeinu. How much he loved Hashem. With all of his soul. What an inspiration! Loving Hashem with all your soul.
The Soft Approach
"Imma, I have a problem. Can you please help me?"
"Of course, Avi dear. What do you need?"
"I try so hard to keep the bedroom neat. Then along comes Yitzy. He makes a mess and does not clean up. I really want to speak strongly to him about it. I just wanted to ask you if this is the proper thing to do."
"Avi, you are so smart. You ask before taking action. Do you have a minute to listen to a Devar Torah?"
"Do you know about the sin of ‘May Meriva'?"
"Yes, Imma. Moshe Rabbeinu hit the rock."
"What did Hashem tell him to do?"
"Take your staff, gather the people together, and speak to the rock."
"Excellent, Avi. Instead, he hit the rock. Rav Yonason Eibushitz explains that the world is baffled. What did Moshe Rabbeinu do wrong by hitting the rock? After all, Hashem Himself told him to take his staff in hand."
"It is puzzling Imma."
"The Torah is teaching us derech eretz (proper conduct), explains Rav Yonason. When you must speak to someone, try the soft approach first. Speak gentle words of comfort. Make your request as nicely as possible."
"What should we do if he does not listen?"
"Then you may speak harshly, if you feel that it will help. This is what the Almighty instructed Moshe. First speak to the rock, in order to make a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the Holy Name), and to teach derech eretz. If the rock would not give water after being spoken to, then it would be permissible to hit it. Moshe did not follow the derech eretz. He hit the rock first, without speaking to it. For this he was punished."
"I see, Imma. You are suggesting that I speak softly to Yitzy first."
"Yes, Avi. Ask him nicely. Patiently explain to him the importance of a neat room. Smile. Give the soft approach a chance. With Hashem's help, it will work wonders."
"Imma, thank you for using the soft approach with me."
"My pleasure, Avi."
Kinderlach . . .
"He took your ball. She accidentally woke you up. He wants a treat before finishing his vegetables. She won't wash her share of the dishes." We want to tell these people about their behavior. How should we do it? With harsh, critical words? Derech eretz teaches the soft approach. Speak nicely and softly. Explain yourself. Ask instead of demanding. If soft words would have brought water from a rock, they will surely help you.
For which aveyra did the Parah Adumah atone? (Rashi 19:22)
Why did Moshe hit the rock the first time? The second time? (Rashi 20:11)
How did the serpent on the rod heal those bitten by the snakes? (Rashi 21:8)
Did Moav let the Bnei Yisrael pass through their land? (Rashi 21:13)
How did the Bnei Yisrael conquer all the cities of Sichon? (Rashi 21:23)
Why was Moshe afraid of Og Melech HaBashan? (Rashi 21:34 and Bereshis ??? look it up)
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