Below, please find a write-up of Rav Weinberger's morning drasha from parshas Chukas. Baruch Hashem, this version reflects his review of the write-up. I'm trying something new by not including the original Herew text (except where it's relevant to understand a shoresh) to see if this makes it easier for most readers. Please let me know your feedback on this change
. See here
for past write-ups. Also, thousands of Rav Weinberger's shiurim are available onlin HERE.
Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. Shalosh Sheudos will remain up. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.
The Language of the Generation
the nature of Moshe Rebbeinu’s sin in striking the rock to bring forth water
for the Jewish people, Rav Shmuel Dovid Luzzatto, זצ"ל, the great-grandson of the Ramchal, wrote that
“While Moshe Rebbeinu only committed on sin, the commentaries heaped thirteen
or more sins upon him because each one attributed some novel sin based on his
own understanding...” The Torah tells us very little about the reason for the
drastic consequences of Moshe’s sin. We must therefore understand the
commentaries’ explanations rather than inventing any new sins to add to the
is a well-known dispute between the Rambam (Shmonah Perakim, Ch. 4) and Rashi
(on Bamidbar 20:12) regarding the nature of Moshe’s sin. According to the
Rambam, his sin was excessive anger when he said (Bamidbar 20:10) “Listen, you
rebels.” According to Rashi, however, his sin was disobeying G-d by hitting the
rock when he was commanded to speak to the rock. While the Ramban takes issue
with both of these explanations, the Maharal in Gur Areye and Rav Levi Yitzchak
of Berditchev in Kedushas Levi explain that on a deeper level, the Rambam and
Rashi’s explanations are not mutually exclusive. Each refer to a different
stage in one process. The process began with Moshe becoming angry and that
anger caused him to disobey Hashem’s command to speak to the rock.
speaks to us in every generation through the Torah as if it is being given
today. We must therefore understand what we must learn from the nature of
Moshe’s sin in order to know what is right in our own generation. The first
step in that process is understanding the difference between the events in
parshas Chukas and the events in parshas Beshalach when Moshe first drew water
from a rock (Shmos 17:1-7). There, the people lacked water and came to complain
to Moshe, Moshe told Hashem that he was afraid they would kill him, Hashem told
him to hit a rock, he did so, and water began flowing from the rock to fulfill
the Jewish people’s need for water. What is the difference between these two
events? Why was it a mitzva for Moshe to hit the rock shortly after the Jewish
people left Egypt but a grave sin to do so in their last year in the desert
before entering Eretz Yisroel?
difference was the generation. Moshe was commanded to hit the rock for the
generation who left Egypt. This older generation grew up as slaves in Egypt.
They were familiar with the language of force and harshness. For them, when
Moshe hit the rock, using force to extract the water, he was speaking the
language of the old style of education understood by that generation. However,
the generation in parshas Chukas lived forty years later. They grew up in the
desert protected by Hashem who provided for all of their needs. They were a
softer, weaker generation. This new generation, on the brink of entering Eretz
Yisroel, understood a different language. Hashem expected Moshe to speak to the
new generation in a language it understood, the language of conversation,
speech, and dialogue. That is why He commanded Moshe only to speak to the rock
and not to strike it.
our times too, we see this distinction between the “old generation” and the
“new generation.” Our parents and grandparents who lived through the war, grew
up for the most part under the control of totalitarian regimes or dictatorships
and were accustomed to the harsh language of force. That generation also
educated its children using the language of strict discipline and force. That
approach does not work in the current generation. The old generation was not
broken by the old approach to education. But if anyone tries to use the old way
of discipline on the new generation, he will only shatter the lives of his
students. Such an approach to education no longer works. It is simply outdated.
happened to Moshe Rebbeinu in parshas Chukas? When he lifted up his staff to
hit the rock just as he had done forty years earlier for the previous
generation, he revealed that, on his level, he did not appreciate the
difference between the generations. As great as he was, he could not speak the
language of the new generation. He was still educating people the way it was
done in the “old country.” He did not understand how to communicate with the
generation in its way, which was through speech, conversation, and dialogue.
The new way is one of (Devarim 6:7) “And you shall teach your children and
speak to them.” The way of the new generation is speaking with one’s children
rather than using force to elicit their compliance.
was not so much that Moshe was punished by not being allowed to bring the
Jewish people into Eretz Yisroel. Rather, it was a natural consequence of the
fact that he was no longer able to understand the true nature of the new
generation. He could not be the person who would lead them into the land. But
Yehoshua, his successor, did lead them into the land. It is known that Rashi
(on Bamidbar 11:28) teaches us that Eldad and Medad has prophesized that “Moshe
will die and Yehoshua will bring the Jewish people into the land of Israel.”
What was Yehoshua’s approach to education? The pasuk at the end of the book of
Yehoshua (24:27) tells us that at the end of his life, Yehoshua established a
large stone as a monument and said that “it has heard all of the words of
Hashem which He has spoken to us.” Yehoshua understood that one can also speak
to a stone and it will hear. He understood that the nature of the new
generation is one of conversation rather than coercion.
two approaches to education also manifest themselves in a remarkable teaching
by the Gemara (Sanhedrin 24a), which says:
Rav Oshea says, “What is
meant by the pasuk (Zecharia 11:7), which says ‘And I will take two staffs. I
will call one pleasantness and I will call the other violence.’ The one called
‘pleasantness’ refers to the sages of Eretz Yisroel, who discuss halacha
sweetly with one another. ‘Violence’ refers to the sages of Bavel, who do
violence against one another in their discussion of halacha.”
therefore see from this Gemara that the way of education for the old
generation, the generation of exile, Bavel, is violence, force, and coercion.
But the way of education in Eretz Yisroel, the way of the new generation, the
way of redemption and Moshiach, is one of pleasantness.
reasons only truly known to Him, Hashem conducts the world in this way. Each
generation has its own unique character. Some people may want to rail against
this, asking, “Why does it have to be that way?”, “If it worked then, it should
work now!” or “That’s our mesorah in education!” They can ask these questions
but if they attempt to educate this generation the way the previous generations
educated their children, it simply will not work.
Shimon Bar Yochai (Zohar 128a) even said in his time that while in previous
generations the main point was strictness and fear of punishment, “For us, the
matter is dependent on love.” In our generation too, we see that fear was the
modus operendi for prior generations who lived in monarchies and dictatorships.
To a large extent this worked. But we now live in democracies, countries in
which everyone has a right to his opinion. Now, we communicate with one another
by talking things over, with the staff of pleasantness. It goes without saying
that we do not turn our houses into democracies, giving our children a vote on
all household decisions. There must be authority, limitations, and boundaries.
It is difficult to find the correct balance between dialogue with parental
authority but we may not ignore the nature of the generation.
friend of mine attended parent-teacher conferences for his sixth grade son one
year. This son gave my friend a lot of aggravation at home, so he expected to
hear a similar report from his son’s rebbe. But the rebbe’s report was glowing.
After confirming that he and the rebbe were indeed referring to the same boy,
my friend told the rebbe that he did not understand why his son acted so
different in yeshiva than he did at home.
This rebbe was a baal teshuva from the Midwest with a very sweet, simple
approach, and he asked my friend, “Do you every talk with your son?” After
thinking for a few moments, he answered that he really hadn’t. He asked his son
to do things. He learned with him, He disciplined him. He even told him he was
doing a good job once in a while. But he never actually had a conversation with
him. The rebbe then suggested that he should talk with his son because he has
some very deep thoughts about things. We must educate our children in the context
of dialogue, of actually communicating with them.
is the same thing in the caustic bitter dispute between the Chareidi and the
secular elements in Eretz Yisroel today. Both sides largely carry only the
“staff of violence” in their dealings with one another. Each side may only
skewer each other with the point of a pen, but that is still violence. Certain
voices in the secular media condemn the Chareidim as parasites who are a
greater threat to Israel than Iran. And some in the Chareidi camp compare anyone
who disagrees with them with history’s worst anti-Semites. Neither side is, for
the most part, willing to hear out the other side, to have a true conversation.
A chassidishe friend of mine says that whenever he travels to Eretz Yisroel, he
finds himself in conversations with secular Israelis and they inevitably wind
up discussing the Chareidi draft issue. He explains his perspective and they
explain theirs and at the end, they usually hear where he is coming from and he
understands their perspective. But that can only happen when people engage in a
Persuasion through conversation is the
way to bring redemption in this generation. In fact, the Hebrew word Moshiach, משיח, shares the same root
as the word “שיחה,” “conversation.” The prophet Yeshaya (11:4) says about
Moshiach that “He will smite the land with the rod of his mouth and will put
the wicked to death with the breath of his lips.” Using only his mouth, words
of dialogue, teaching, conversation, and persuasion, he will turn the wicked
around and bring about the ultimate redemption. May we merit to recognize the
nature of our generation and education our generation according to its unique
path and thereby see the revelation of Moshiach soon in our days.
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