The Stone Story

Parshas Chukas #4

The Stone Story

It was the 10th day of the month of Nissan, 2,887 years since Creation – almost 39 years since the Great Exodus. And then… TRAGEDY! The great, holy, courageous, prophetess Miriam, passed away at the age of 126.

Suddenly, the “Well of Miriam” disappeared.

“Water! We must have water! Where do we get water from?” they all cried out.

Indeed, this well was a miraculous rock that had followed Bnei Yisrael as they traveled. For almost 40 years, in the merit of Miriam, this rock provided refreshing water – plenty for the people and their cattle. Now it was gone.

Bnei Yisrael ran to Moshe and Aharon:

“Why have you taken us Out of Egypt?”

“Why did you bring us into this hot, sweltering desert – so that we and our cattle shall die?!”

“Yes! There’s not a drop of water to drink!”

“We will all die of thirst!”

Moshe and Aharon did what they always did – they prayed with all their might to HaShem. After all, it was not an unreasonable request – How can anyone survive in the scorching desert without water?

HaShem quickly answered their prayers, “Take your staff, Moshe. You and your brother Aharon shall gather the nation. Find the rock of Miriam and command it to give forth water. Let them all witness my great miracle – once again the water will flow from the rock.”

Moshe and Aharon did as they were told and they assembled the entire congregation. Moshe announced in a loud voice, “Now I will speak to the rock, and it will bring forth water!”

“Look!” someone whispered to his friend. “It seems that Moshe is having a hard time locating the rock.”

“You know why? That’s because the rock of Miriam rolled away. It’s now hidden among all the other rocks. Look! Look for yourselves. See if you can find it.”

The people were getting impatient as Moshe tried to decide which rock was the right one.

Well, Moshe? Speak to any rock – what difference does it make which rock?”

“We are thirsty!”

“Listen to me, you foolish, stubborn, rebellious people! I am the leader here. I know what HaShem told me to do. Do you really think that I could just speak to any rock, besides the rock of Miriam, and water will come out?!”

To prove his point, Moshe indeed spoke to another rock – not the rock of Miriam, and indeed – gornisht, absolutely nothing happened.

“Perhaps Moshe, you need to hit it! Hit the rock. Hit the rock!”

“Yeah, remember at the beginning of our desert episode, way back in Marah? There, HaShem told you to hit the rock with your staff. You did and plenty of water came out!”

“Hit it! Hit the rock! Hit the rock! Hit it,” many of them chanted. “The rock… Di Groise Shtein! We need water and we need it now!”

HaShem suddenly caused the rock of Miriam to appear in front of Moshe. Moshe figured, “Hmmmm. HaShem told me to “take my staff.” Why would I need a staff, if not to hit the rock? Perhaps they have a good point.”

So Moshe HIT THE ROCK!

A few drops dripped out. Then he took a deep breath and hit the rock again. This time water gushed out like a fire hydrant at full blast! There was plenty of refreshing water for everyone.

Shazak insight

Hitting the (Hebrew) Rock – It’s Not WYSIWYG!

The Language of the Torah is fascinating!

On one hand it’s WYSIWYGWhat You See Is What You Get. It’s a “phonetic” language. The way it’s spelled is the way it’s pronounced.

The English language, however, is WYSINWYG – What You See Is NOT What You Get. Nothing the way it’s written. That’s because – unlike Hebrew which is an original language composed by HaShem – English gets its words from many other languages, and that’s what makes the spelling so different. That why it’s, “The naughty crook laughed when he was caught!” and not “The nawtee crook lafed when he was cawt.”

On the other hand, there are plenty of WYSINWYG in the Torah, which helps us discover some amazing Torah secrets!

The most famous way is by switching the vowels (the dots and shapes above and below the letters).

(BTW: According to the great Chief Rabbi of Egypt, Rabbi Dovid ibn Zimra (Radbaz – 1479-1573), the reason the Torah is without vowels is to give us the chance to find new meanings in the Torah.)

Here’s a WYSINWYG (What You See Is NOT What You Get) in our “Hitting the Rock” episode:

Moshe hit the rock twice, and out came water. Let’s visualize how this happened by analyzing the Hebrew word for rock, סלע, which is made up of three letters: Samach, Lamed and Ayin.

עין

למד

סמך

 

Now, Moshe strikes the rock, so we’ll strike away the first letter from each word.

עין

למד

סמך

 

Now, when Moshe hits the rock again, we’ll knock off the last letter from each one.

עין

למד

סמך

Take the three remaining letters, and you can rearrange them to spell מים, water!

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