Aharon’s passing was devastating and once again the complaints started up, as they ran to Moshe.
“Moshe! HaShem! Why did you take us into this desert? We should have stayed in Egypt!”
“At least in Egypt we had real food to eat! This Mann is sooooo boring!”
“And the water? We have plenty of it from the Well of Miriam. But any second it could stop giving water!”
“Yeah! Like it did before when Miriam died! Poof… in a moment it dried up!”
HaShem anger kindled as he told Moshe of the upcoming “Snake Punishment”:
“Let the snake, who was punished for its evil talk, in the Garden of Eden, come and punish those who speak evil against Me!”
HaShem continued, “And let the snake, to whom all food tastes the same – like the dust of the earth – come and punish the ungrateful Jews who have been treated to My wonderful food – the Mann.”
Indeed, the amazing Mann is the exact opposite of the food of the snake – it tasted like anything a person wished!
HaShem commanded, short and not sweet, “Now, snakes… do your job!”
Quicker than you can say, “slithering, sliding, slimy, sneaky snakes,” these poisonous crawling creatures were off… biting and causing terror in the Jewish camp.
The people ran to Moshe, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against HaShem and against you. We are so sorry! Please, pray to HaShem to remove the snakes!”
Although Bnei Yisrael were not acting properly, Moshe, the faithful guardian of the Jewish people, prayed to HaShem.
The clock was ticking (sorry, no clocks in those days… scratch that). Time was passing, while the snakes were biting and there was no time to waste. Indeed, HaShem’s reply came faster than you can say, “stop the slithering, sliding, slimy, sneaky snakes.”
“Make an image of a snake and put it high up on a pole,” HaShem instructed Moshe. “Whoever was bitten shall look up at the snake, so he shall live.”
“Hmmm,” Moshe hmmmed to himself. “An image of a snake? What should I make it from? I have a good idea! Let’s see – a snake is Nachash, and copper is Nechoshes – two Hebrew words that sound alike. I’ll make the Nachash from Nechoshes!”
As fast as he could, Moshe created a copper snake. He ran and put it at the top of a pole for all to see. It worked! When someone gazed at the copper snake, he was healed.
But can a copper snake heal a person?
Of course not! It was HaShem who healed them. They brought about this healing by looking upward, with their thoughts and their hearts directed toward HaShem.