One of the costliest problems of human interaction is a lack of trust. In business, government, and family, trust helps us see mutually beneficial solutions and focus on matters of substance. A lack of trust forcing us to engage in bureaucratic rulemaking and policing.
With trust we complement each other; without trust, we compete against one another.
Trust goes beyond human interaction; it extends to all our interactions — from the step we trip on to the dog that spills our coffee. Before we’ve made our first human contact for the day, we’ve got a choice: To trust or not to trust; to accept reality, trusting that we are exactly where we need to be, or to fight against the reality of the moment.
Each day is a new batch of clay, and it is up to us to fashion it into something beautiful. Paradoxically, to change the raw material for the better, we need first to accept it as is.
Arnold Beisser, M.D. writes, “change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. The strategy is to encourage, even insist, that one be where and what he is. The premise is that one must stand in one place to have the firm footing to move (forward).”
This lesson of trust and acceptance is brought out powerfully in the story of Moshe’s hitting of the rock. The commentators all grapple with how to understand the mistake of the greatest of all prophets.
Rambam takes the approach that Moshe sinned by getting angry. If Hashem had expressed “anger”, it would have been appropriate for Moshe to express his anger too. However, Rambam writes, we don’t find Hashem expressing “anger” with the Jews regarding the waters of Merivah.
Ramban challenges Rambam with a verse from psalms 106:32, “They provoked wrath at the waters of Merivah, and Moshe suffered on their account.” It seems pretty clear that Hashem was ‘angry’ with the Jews concerning this very story.
Ramban writes that the true depth of the matter is a mystical secret. (While this is not the proper forum for mysticism, there is an amazingly practical lesson to be drawn from Ramban’s words.)
Moshe’s striking of the rock brought about the decree of his death, and the subsequent change in leadership. Coming on the heels of all the great sins starting with the Golden Calf, this is the final nail in the coffin, sealing out the possibility of Moshe leading the nation into the land of Israel.
Following the Golden Calf, the broken tablets signified a fundamental shift in the Jew’s relationship with Hashem. No longer would Torah inspiration flow like a spring; now, one needs effortful digging to reach the deep waters of the Torah well.
However, there still was a chance to maintain the spiritual bounty of a Moshe-level leadership.
For this to work, Moshe would need to accept the Jew’s lowered status. He would have to realize that here too, at this lower level, lay the potential to reach Mashiach. Despite Hashem’s “anger” the Jews could still get to the promised land, with Moshe at their head — a leadership that would’ve prevented the destruction of the temple and our present exile.
The challenge presented to Moses was to speak “calm” words in the presence of the Jews. Despite Hashem’s overall ‘anger’ with the Jews — even regarding this very story — Hashem didn’t express displeasure when instructing Moshe to bring forth the waters. Moshe was to understand that words of angry rebuke were inappropriate now. This moment was a time of rectification. A time to embrace reality, however painful, and build forward.
As we inch closer to the time when we mourn our state of exile, dispersion and disunity, let us pause and reflect.
Perhaps we have more than we think we have.
If we were placed here, now, that means we can draw forth the waters of Torah from this very place and circumstance. If we can learn to embrace and cherish the moment, the result will be nothing short of miraculous — the waters of Torah flowing from each and every ‘rock’ we encounter.
Wishing you all the very best and a wonderful Shabbos,
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