10 Beautiful Insights on Parshas Chukas:
3) On this Mishnah, the Chassidishe Masters comment: They explain that this Mishnah teaches us a big lesson in truth.1 Drawing on this preliminary thing, I believe that the lesson in truth that it can teach us, is that even if a person tells the truth almost every single time, but they lie sometimes, and are false sometimes, then they are not totally true people. Rather, as we see from this Mishnah, they are still ‘disqualified’. That is, from being wholly true. And truth is a very important thing.
4) The Torah discusses in this parsha the death of Miriam. And then we didn’t have water afterward. As we are told, the Jews were sustained with water (at least partly) in the zechus of Miriam (see Parshas Shemos), and after she died, the Jews didn’t have water anymore. But wouldn’t Hashem give the Jews water anyway? The Alshich (HaRav Moshe Alsheich zt"l) notes that the Torah doesn’t list the Jews mourning Miriam, as it does after the deaths of Moshe and Aharon. This was definitely not a good thing, and he explains that because of this aveirah (transgression), Hashem punished the Jews with a lack of water.2
5) After the death of Miriam, and the lack of water, the Jews started to complain again. We notice that the Jews essentially always complained when they didn’t have enough water (though they complained for a lot of other things as well). Water is usually used as a metaphor for Torah. If we flip back to Parshas Beshalach, we see the Mechilta, which teaches that if a person does not learn Torah for three days at least, their Yetzer hara takes control of them (so to speak). In other words, we must learn enough Torah, or we might, Chas V’Shalom (Hashem forbid) start to act badly.
6) Hashem told Moshe to speak to a rock in the eyes of the Jews, and water would come from it. It looks like Moshe maybe got stressed out from the pressure which the Jews put on him, and he hit the rock instead of talking to it. Water still came out, but Moshe had done a bad thing, and Hashem punished him that he would not lead the Jews into Eretz Yisroel. Aside from the P'shat (simple) aveirah, which was Moshe not doing what Hashem had said to, the Chiddushei HaRim (The first Gerrer Rebbe, Rebbe Yitzchok Meir Alter zt”l) finds Moshe’s big aveirah from the word 'li’eineihem’ which means ‘in their eyes’. Moshe was supposed to perform a wonder in the eyes of the Jews, meaning that they could see it, which was supposed to leave the Jews unquestioningly realizing that Hashem provides for them. When Moshe hit the rock, Hashem sent the water out, yes, but it did not accomplish what Hashem wanted to accomplish, and that was an aveirah on Moshe’s part.3
7) Rashi, who goes with the simple explanation, explains that Moshe’s aveirah was hitting the rock, not talking to it. However, Ramban, thinks differently. Ramban holds that Moshe’s aveirah was mostly in calling the Jews ‘rebels’, as he did right before he hit the rock.
8) Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev zt”l comments on these commentaries: He explains that Rashi, and Ramban’s explanations, are one and the same!! How? Because, he explains, calling the Jews ‘rebels’ led to him hitting the rock. There are two ways to persuade people to do the Will of Hashem: 1) By speaking softly to the people, and encouraging them, and 2) by speaking harshly to them. Now, says Reb Levi Yitzchok, when we do the first way, everybody is with us, and all of creation aids us in serving Hashem. But when we do the second approach, we have to do things on our own, without people behind us. So when Moshe said ‘listen, please, O’rebels’, he was doing the second way, and so the creations were not behind him. Therefore, he had to force the rock to bring forth water. And in conclusion, he explains beautifully, Ramban and Rashi are both right, because one sin led to the other!4
9) In this parsha, Aharon dies. We are told that he died through a ‘misas neshikah' meaning ‘death by a [Divine] kiss’. The Gemara compares ‘misas neshikah’ to pulling a hair out of milk. It comes out easily. So too, when Hashem takes a person’s Soul through a ‘misas neshikah’, it comes out very easily, and without pain.
10) On this, HaRav Gedaliah Schorr shlita comments: He explains that people who focus too much on physical desires and sin a lot, die more painfully. Why? Because, he explains beautifully, their Souls are now very connected to their bodies, and so, taking them out hurts more. The Chachamim compare the death of a wicked person to pulling thorns out of sheep’s wool. However, people on the level of Moshe and Aharon, who almost never sinned, their Souls could be taken out of them without pain. May Hashem help us all be this great.5
Amein, Kein Yi'hi Ratzon (Amein, so may it be His Will).
Have a great Shabbos everyone!
1 Chabad.org. Parsha in-depth. Parshas Chukas.
2 Stone Edition Chumash. Parshas Chukas. Artscroll Publications©.
3 Stone Edition Chumash. Parshas Chukas. Artscroll Publications©.
4 Hasidismfortherestofus.wordpress.com. Parshas Chukas. From Kedushas Levi.
5 Stone Edition Chumash. Parshas Chukas. Artscroll Publications©.