Friday, July 3, 2020

Don’t strike that rock!

Don’t strike that rock!

At Jewish Newport

July 4, 2020

By Aaron Ginsburg

Thank you to Rabbi Marc Mandel

Edited by Beth Ginsburg Levine

Also at

Rabbi Marc Mandel of Newport’s Touro Synagogue shared a Dvar based on

“In this week's Parsha [Parashat Chukat-Balak  Numbers 19:1 - 25:9]

 we read about the death of Miriam, and then the Torah states ‘there was no water for the congregation.’  God denied the nation water so that they might be ever-cognizant that the fresh sweet water of the well in the desert was all in the merit of Miriam.

“During the long, bitter years of Egyptian bondage, Miriam was responsible for imbuing the nation with faith. She put herself on the line to save the lives of doomed Jewish babies; she lovingly stood guard over the infant Moses while he was floating in a basket on the Nile; and she courageously convinced Pharaoh's daughter to entrust the baby to the care of Jochebed, Moses' mother. At the Splitting of the Reed Sea, Miriam inspired the women to call out to God in praise, dance, and sing songs of thanksgiving. 

“With the death of Miriam, God reminded the people that it was in the merit of Miriam that they had been granted the gift of water in the desert, and with her death, her well was lost.”


And the rest of the story is that God directed Moses and Aaron to take the rod to the rock in front of the people and that the rock would gush water.

Moses did as he was told, and then struck the rock. Bad move Moshe. God didn't say strike the rock. God lost his temper (again) and told them that they would not lead the Israelites to the promised land.  It seems a little unfair that Aaron was punished because Moshe struck the rock. 

How many times have you had trouble following directions? If God was my supervisor, I would be in big trouble!

Speaking of directions, I remember some of my acquaintances from Roger’s High School would boast about asking people, “Where is Spring St?” when they were on Spring St. At the time, there were a lot of street signs for the cross streets, but not for the main streets. 

When I lived in Sharon, MA, I used to walk my children to shul on Main St. It was not unusual for someone to stop their car on their way through town to ask for directions. I found these questions a particular challenge. Sharon was cut in two by railroad tracks and the streets wandered about because of the hilly topography. I yearned for Newport where, I thought, everything made sense.

May you have success following directions without striking a rock!

Shabbat Shalom from Jewish Newport