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June 25, 1993 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-06-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

L. F. E. OPEN HOUSE

Tuesday, June 29th
8:00 p.m.

Adearning

T s a

E xperience

The L.I.F.E. Program of Congregation B'nai Moshe is expanding for the 1993-
1994 school year. The Elementary Division will add grades 4 & 5. A new Middle
School for grades 6-8 is being formed in conjunction with the Agency for Jewish
Education.

You are cordially invited to a school Open House here at B'nai Moshe. Meet
Rabbi Pachter, Education Director Nancy Vardy, teachers and Education
Committee members. We will explain what L.I.F.E. is and answer any questions
you may have.

If you want quality education with teachers that your
children will identify with, then you owe it to yourself
to listen to what our program has to offer!

Saturday classes, midweek classes, Friday Night Dinners,
Shabbatons, Sleepovers, Youth Retreats, Family Retreats,
Creative teaching methods.

YOUR KIDS WILL ENJOY LEARNING AT
EYNAI MOSHE!!

Come find out why.

Congregation B'nai Moshe
6800 Drake Road
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48322
788-0600

SPRING SUFICOLLECTIONS
1/11. TO 50% OPP

LIMITED QUANTITIES

EIEHEITON AT THE EINDS&FRJOWS&LIC
ORCHARD LAKE ROAD • SOUTH MAPLE • WEST BLOOMFIELD • 737-3737

Faith In God
Can Work Miracles

DR. RICHARD C. HERTZ SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

W

hat was the sin of
Moses • and Aaron?
Why weren't they
permitted to enter
the promised land? Our Ibrah
portion this week gives the
answer. After Miriam's death,
the people complained about
the lack of water- in the
desert. Moses and Aaron were
commanded to bring forth
water from a certain rock.
Our Torah portion describes
what is one of the Gordian
Knots of the Bible. Their
punishment was clear, but
what was the crime for which
they were so severely
punished?
Many different interpreta-
tions by medieval commen-
tators attempted to unravel
this problem. Some said that
Moses's action in striking the
rock, instead of speaking to it,
and that he struck it twice
instead of only once showed a
blazing temper in his charac-
ter. One commentator criti-
cized his mourning for his
sister Miriam when she died
while his people were dying of
thirst as being totally wrong.
The editors of the Bible do
not portray its heroes as be-
ing infallible. They do not
even hesitate to tarnish them.
"The waters of Meribah"
became a particular point of
controversy. Perhaps the
original text called for Moses
to strike the rock because
some act was needed to bring
the word of God into
fulfillment.
Moses was not to be seen in
Scripture as a miracle worker.
Sensitive to the role of Moses,
the Pentateuch narrators
took extreme care to distin-
guish him from the Egyptian
magician. Moses was to be an
agent of the supreme God, not
one who was just doing
miracles. He was to be a
divine prophet. That pro-
phetic role meant that the
children of Israel would be
separated from idolatrous
seductions.
Pagan magic was not
enough to explain why it can-
not be that Moses was com-
manded to draw forth water
from the rock by just speak-
ing to it. A magician who per-
formed that miracle by his
own powers rather than by
divine agency would be
heresy. Speaking to the rock
in the sight and hearing of

Dr. Hertz is rabbi emeritus
of Temple Beth. El.

40•Nimaguawsswel110111180.--

the Israelites instead of at-
tributing the miracle to God
posed a true theological
problem.
Thus, the sin of Moses
stands out in its proper
perspective.
The Torah does not want
man to share in the manipu-
lation of divine power. The
Torah, stressing the mono-
theistic revolution, clearly
conveys the theological idea
that not a pagan pharaoh,
only the stiff necked Israel-
ites, were aware of God's true
nature. Only loyalty to the
one God in that age was the
Israelite's great contribution
to Judaism.
The sin of Moses — if it was
a sin — made him speechless
during the performance of a
miracle of water gushing
forth. Even though he himself
failed to reach the promised
land, he successfully brought

Shabbat Chukat:
Numbers 19:1-22:1
Judges 11:1-33.

his people to the edge which
he was only privileged to see
from a distance.
Thus, because of the
rebelliousness and lack of
faith the generation of the
Exodus died in the
wilderness. The same punish-
ment was pronounced on its
leaders, Moses and Aaron,
simply because as the Torah
says they did not trust God
enough to affirm His sanctity.
The miracle was to 'mire laid
in the power of the word
spoken in God's name. In-
stead, Moses performed a
physical act of striking not
once but twice the rock,
thereby revealing his lack of
trust in God.
Some see this only as a
minor transgression commit-
ted in frustration and anger.
Should this wipe out a
lifetime of service to his peo-
ple? Does the punishment fit
the crime?
To Moses and Aaron it pro-
bably seemed as if their
whole life's work was washed
away in those waters. Maybe
in the 38 years before hand
they would have known how
to deal with the people's
frustration as they did on
numerous other occasions.
Now they met this crisis with
silence. The disillusionment

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