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Parshas Chukas

Utter Honesty

By Rabbi Label Lam

HASHEM spoke to Moshe saying, “Take the staff and gather the assembly, you and Aaron your brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes that it shall give its waters. You shall bring forth for them water from the rock and give drink to the assembly and to their animals.” Moshe took the staff from before HASHEM, as He had commanded him. Moshe and Aaron gathered the congregation before the rock and he said to them, “Listen now O rebels, shall we bring forth water for you from this rock?” Then Moshe raised his arm and struck the rock with his staff twice. Abundant water came forth and the assembly and their animals drank. HASHEM said to Moshe, “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the Land that I will give them.” (Bamidbar 20:7-12)

…The testimonies of HASHEM are reliable they make wise the simple! (Tehillim 19:8)

Here we have on open display one of many clear demonstrations of the veracity of the Torah. Moshe’s faultiness is exposed in living color for the world to see for all time. He is accused by The Almighty of “not believing in HASHEM”! Even a momentary lapse, in a situation of extreme pressure and desperation is not excusable. It must be spelled out for all future generations how he had erred in his career as a servant of G-d! Usually the writer of history has his turn to revise things, consciously or sub-consciously, and sanitize the reputation of the heroes it wishes to promote. What does the Torah consistently do? It points out the subtle and overt errors of all our ancestors. No one is so sacred to avoid criticism!

Avraham is faulted for allowing water to be fetched by an agent rather than going to get it himself when he was visited by three heat stricken wayfarers on the hottest day ever just three days after his circumcision at the age of 99. The strict eye of justice did not spare or excuse him even as his greatness was on parade. Then Sara chuckled inwardly, and probably undetectable, by human hearing, and yet she was held accountable for a slight lack of belief in HASHEM’s ability to grant her a child in her old age.

Yaakov is punished for his response to Rochel when she demanded a child after her sister had already given birth multiple times. “Am I in place of G-d!?” he responded bluntly. He was evidently not the one with a fertility issue but that was not the way to respond to a woman in emotional pain. Ouch!

That a golden calf was built just 40 days after the Nation of Israel all heard the HASHEM declare, “You shall have no other gods before Me…” and the Torah records G-d’s wish to destroy the entire nation and rebuild it with Moshe is brutally truthful and revealing. That Aaron albeit unwillingly played a direct role in its construction is even more startling because later he would become the highest of high priests. That ugly fact could easily have been swept under the historical rug and no one would be the wiser.

We find that even Miriam’s slight-slight of her brother Moshe whom she loved and which resulted in her public disgrace as she was afflicted with Tzaraas, could also have avoided headlines, but no! It is one of the six daily remembrances and one of the 613 Mitzvos to remember what HASHEM did to Miriam, when she spoke to Aaron and out of for concern for Moshe! Ouch again!

The rebellion of Korach also would have been better to be hushed and whisked away. Why would Moshe want people to know that in his lifetime there were dissenting opinions and mutinous machinations at play!? Does that add or detract from the credibility you would expect Moshe to be seeking?

The answer is that Moshe did not write anything from his own mind. He was not more than a compatible printer of The Almighty penning with perfect precision like any other scribe only what he was bidden to and not more or less.

The cases are just too many to list! Even a few examples though serve as strong evidence that the testimonies of our Holy Torah are dripping with utter honesty!

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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