10 Tammuz 5778 – Chukat

Do we sometimes strike our kids instead of speaking to them?

Are we sometimes harsh with others, where tenderness and soft-spokenness would be more appropriate?

While we in Sydney, Australia have been blessed with an abundance of rain, the Jews in this week’s Parasha are crying out to Moshe for water! Over Shabbat we will read how G-d instructs Moshe to talk to a particular rock so that it give forth water, yet he hits the rock and quenches the nation’s thirst. As a result of not obeying G-ds instruction, Moshe forfeits his right to enter the Promised Land. All this talk about hitting and striking stones, a little strange, no? What’s in it for us??

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains that this was a small and subtle test to demonstrate the suitability of Moshe’s leadership for this new generation of Jews about to enter the Holy Land. Moshe, the great Jewish leader, had been the ideal leader for the previous generation. He redeemed a broken nation from the bondage of Egypt and put up with their moans and groans for close to 40 years. His strict leadership style was perfect for that generation who needed the occasional ‘spike’ to put them back in line. 

But this new generation grew up witnessing G-ds ways and miraculous signs. They were more ‘soft’ and refined then their ancestors. They didn’t require the regimented leadership approach of Moshe but rather a more understanding, more gentle approach.  Words rather than the hand would inspire this lot and Moshe demonstrated in this episode that he was just not their leader. He was a ‘striker’ not a ‘speaker’.
All this makes me ask the question: What kind of a leader am I? What about you?
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman
(Don’t forget to participate in the mitzvah of writing a Torah by securing a letter in our new Sefer Torah – details here


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