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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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We follow the Torah reading in Chutz La'Aretz, which is:

Parashas Chukas/ Balak(66)

The week we have (in Chitz LaAretz) two sedras. We look at a Rashi in Chukas. Chukas discusses the Red Heifer (Parah Adumah) purifying ceremony; Miriam's death; the People's complaint over lack of water & Moses' dealing with the complaint by striking the stone. For his and Aaron's behavior of not sanctifying G-d before the People, they were both punished, not being allowed to come into the Land of Israel with the new generation after the 40 year trek in the wilderness.

Numbers 20:12

And Hashem said to Moses and to Aaron: 'Since you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the presence of the Children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the Land that I have given them.'


Since you did not believe in Me: Rashi: The Scripture reveals that had it not been for this single sin they would have entered the Land, so that it would not be said of them: 'Like the transgression of the rest of the generation of the desert against whom it was decreed not to enter the Land, so too was the transgression of Moses and Aaron.' But was not [the sin when Moses said] "will sheep and cattle be slaughtered?" ( above 11:22) worse than this ? But since that was done privately (between Moses and Hashem) Scripture was compassionate with him, but here it was done in the presence of all of Israel, Scripture was not compassionate with him, because of Sanctifying the Name of Hashem.


Rashi tells us that the sin of Moses and Aaron was revealed in the Torah together with the punishment, so we would not think that they did not enter the Land because of the same sin as the congregation (the sin of the Spies)who were deprived of entering the Land of Israel. Then Rashi explains why Moses' lack of faith that G-d could supply food for several million Jews in the desert was less serious than this lack of faith and thus why they weren't punished for it.


Why do think Rashi connects the three cases? 1) The sin of the Spies

2) The sin of Moses complaining that how can get food for all the People?

3) The sin here of the rock and the water

What unites these three cases?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Each case involves a lack of faith in Hashem. 1) In the case of the Spies see Numbers 14:11 where G-d says: "how much longer will they have no faith in Me?"

2) Regarding Moses' statement (which Rashi quotes when the Jews complained about having only the Manna to eat) this surely revealed Moses' doubt whether Hashem could provide food for all the People.

3) Our verse where Moses and Aaron are accused of having no faith in G-d.

So all three revolve the lack of faith in Hashem. Rashi thus connects this sin of Moses here with the one regarding #2 above. The one was publicized because of Chillul Hashem, the other wasn't because there was no Chillul Hashem.

But what you ask on this comment in general?

Your Question:


A Question: Why would anyone think that Moses and Aaron lacked faith in the case of the sin of the Spies? They didn't bring back a bad report; they didn't say anything derogatory about the Land.

Hint: Read the verses there. (Numbers 14:5-10).

Your Answer:


An Answer: If you read those verses we see that only Caleb and Joshua spoke up against the spies. Moses and Aaron were silent. When it turns out that Moses and Aaron did not enter the Land, people might recall the sin of the Spies and think that was the reason.


Another Question: How can Rashi say that this is the reason the Torah records this sin, how could it possibly leave out such an important event as Moses' sin?

Was this Rashi's question?

Hint: See the Lead Words of this Rashi-comment.

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi never thought that this event should not be recorded in the Torah. He meant that just the words "Since you did not believe in Me" could have been omitted. The Torah would then have written, "Because you did not sanctify Me."

The words "Since you did not believe in Me" seem to be unnecessary.

But Rashi's comment tells us that these words are significant. They taught us that it was THIS lack of faith - and no other - that resulted in Moses and Aaron forfeiting their right to enter Eretz Yisrael.

This is what Rashi is saying.


A Question: Why in fact didn't Moses speak up when the spies returned with their defeatist attitude ?


Your Answer:


An Answer: When we read that chapter of the spies, we see that Caleb jumped right in to answer the bad report. And of course Moses and Aaron were not on that investigative trip with the spies, so whatever they might say could be nullified by the spies. As if to say "What do you know? You weren't there." So Moses let Caleb and Joshua carry the argument.


We see the Torah's unique approach to its heroes. Moses, the greatest of all the prophets, the man who spoke with G-d face to face on a nearly a daily basis, is nevertheless not faultless. His sin is publicly proclaimed. The Torah reminds us that he too is human. So too was the case with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob and King David. The Torah's "obsession" with showing us the human side of these truly great men, is the Torah's way of avoiding the trap of having people ascribe to them divine powers. All other religions have fallen into this trap. Their leaders were transformed into gods. The Torah was meticulously careful not to let this happen. There is only one G-d. "There is none other, besides Him."

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi." The 5 Volume set is available at all Jewish bookstores.

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