Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Torah Connection - Hukkat

OK, still running late, as this is last week's parsha.

One of the highlights of this chapter is the latest round of popular grumbling, whereupon G*d commands Moses and Aaron to bring forth water out of the rock by speaking to it.  Moses scolds the thirsty people for their whining, then hits the rock, not once but twice.  The water flows abundantly, but not all is well:

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them."
Why are Moses and Aaron punished?  Some commentators say it is because they used physical force when words would have sufficed.  Some say that it is because they chastised the people while they were still suffering.  I think both of these interpretations have merit -- both of these are important lessons, for parents and other leaders....  but the Hebrew text offers yet another option:

The instructions are generally translated,
 7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 "You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. Thus you shall produce water for them from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts."
However, this could also be read as:

"...Speak to the boulder which is upon their eyes and it shall yield its waters; and you shall take water out of the boulder and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts."
In other words, their grumbling represents a hardening, a blockage of vision.  It is to that hardening that Moses must speak.  That boulder may then yield its waters (tears?) so that they are open to receiving the miracle of the water.

An atheist might look upon this passage as a desert people stumbling upon a spring and foolishly crediting an invisible father-figure with it.  The value of religion is not in accurate accounting of scientific processes (although some religious scientists have gone to some lengths to demonstrate uncanny insights in biblical passages), but in the poetic understanding of human relations, which are as relevant today as in the distant past.

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