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Thought for the Day: Acknowledging Reality

Let's think about this.  There are over two million people -- men, women, children, and babies -- who are in the wilderness and there only source of water has suddenly dried up.  No water.  Lots of dust.  No water.  Babies crying for lack of milk, mothers crying because they can't produce milk.  Is it a shock when the people cry out, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt?  Just to bring us to this evil and uninhabitable place without even water to drink?!"

So Moshe is told to take the staff, assemble the people, go with his brother Aaron to speak to the rock in front of the entire assembly.  The rock will produce water, everyone will get what they need.  Shalom al yisrael.  Why all the fanfare and flourish?  Well... there is no spring here in the wilderness, so you obviously need a miracle to produce a fountain that can produce enough water for this mass of people.  You may as well get some bang for your buck and bring the folks back in line.

Except Moshe hit the rock instead of speaking to it.  Bummer, right?  Wrong.  The rock still miraculously produces beautiful fountain of crystal clear water; enough for everyone.  Whew, right?  Wrong.  Moshe and Aaron are both spoken to very harshly and told that they will not be going to be going into the promised land with everyone else.  So the complainers who got their way like spoiled children are going into Eretz Yisrael, while Moshe (who merited to produce a miracle) and Aaron (who did... um... what, exactly?) are not going.  Something is wrong with this picture.

More to the point, we are wearing goggles that distort the truth.  The S'porno (among others, of course) help us to remove the distortions and see through to the truth.  The S'porno tells us there are three categories of miracles.  First, there hidden miracles, such as answers to the prayers of tzadikim.  Things that could and do happen naturally anyway, but in this case HaShem acts through nature to answer their prayers and desires.  Second, there are miracles that are miraculous precisely because of the way they happen.  Such as Aaron hitting the ground and producing lice, Moshe hitting the rock (at the beginning of their sojourn in the wilderness), and so on.  Could happen, just not that way.  Then there are miracles that cannot happen by any natural means whatsoever. Those miracles show that the natural world should be understood as the "natural" world.  In other words, there is no nature; there is only whatever HaShem wants there to be.

That was the intended function of this miracle.  The rock wasn't going to crack and then water gush forth; the rock was going to become a gushing fountain.  Moshe and Aaron, carrying the staff that had been instrumental in so many miracles would stand by passively while, with no efforts at all, a rock transforms into a fountain of water.  The nation would have seen that there is no difference between the wilderness and a land flowing with milk and honey.  One could become the other; it's entirely and only Ratzon HaShem.  What happened?  Moshe and Aaron decided together that the nation did not merit such a miracle.  However, the nation did need water.  So Moshe and Aaron decided on level two miracle.  Big mistake.

What does it mean that the nation didn't merit such a miracle?  Great question.


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