What's Bothering Rashi? Parshat Shmot: Now You Will See
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Shmot(Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Now You Will See

At the end of the Parsha, after Moses had gone to Pharaoh, as God had commanded, and yet Pharaoh refused to free the nation, Moses voices his despair:

"Why have you done evil to this people?"(Exodus 5:22)

Exodus 6:1

"And Hashem said to Moses 'Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for by [My] strong hand he will let them go.' "

 

RASHI

"Now you will see, etc.": Rashi: You have questioned My ways, not like Abraham, to whom I said "for through Isaac you will have descendents" and afterwards I said to him "Bring him up as a sacrifice," yet he did not question My ways. Therefore "Now you will see. Only that which will be done to Pharaoh will you see, but not (later) that which will be done to the kings of the seven nations when I will bring them (Israel) to the Land."

 

WHAT IS RASHI SAYING?

Rashi is telling us that God is chastising Moses for his criticism of God's ways ("Why have you done evil to this People?"). Moses didn't have the same unquestioning faith in Hashem as Abraham did. And for that he would be punished. His punishment: Not being allowed to bring the People of Israel into the Land of Canaan. Rashi's interpretation is clearly based on God's words "Now you will see..." Now, but not later.

But on this explanation we can ask a basic question.

Your Question:

 

QUESTIONING RASHI

A Question: We are all familiar with the reason that Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel. In the Book of Numbers (chapter 20) we are told the story of the People's request for water in the desert and of Moses hitting the stone in an effort to satisfy their need. There it says:

"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 to the Land..." (Numbers 20:12)

How then can Rashi say about our verse that the reason Moses did not lead the People into Israel was that he showed a lack of faith in his reaction to Pharaoh's worsening the conditions of slavery?

Can you think of an answer?

Your Answer:

 

UNDERSTANDING RASHI

THE MAN MOSES

A Possible Answer: In order to understand this better we must analyze the man, Moses. We are told that when he grew up (in Pharaoh's palace) Moses went out to see his brothers:

"And it was in those days when Moses was grown that he went out to his brothers and saw their sufferings." (Exodus 2:11)

Rashi here comments that he wanted to identify with their suffering. The lines of Moses' personality are well described in the Torah. He was a man who intervened to save others (see the next verses 13-17). He was man who could not tolerate the pain of others (see Numbers 11:15). Here, too, we see the expression of this trait. Moses is terribly upset by seeing that the suffering of his people had increased - and not decreased - after he followed God's command to meet with Pharaoh. This was his heartrending outcry "Why have You brought harm to this people?"

When we look at the story of Moses' sin in Numbers 20 we see that the people voiced a bitter complaint. They had no water to drink. Moses receives instructions from Hashem to take his staff to the rock. Moses hits it twice. The word "pa'amayim" ("twice") implies an urge to get things done quickly, in haste, without delay. (See Judah's speech to his father in Genesis 43:10.) Here we see Moses' character trait of his inability to tolerate the suffering of others, even for a moment, come into play. His overwhelming desire to get water to the people interfered with his ability to follow God's word to the letter.

MOSES' INABLITY TO TOLERATE THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS

Now we can understand our Rashi. Moses' inability to tolerate the pain of his people, as expressed in our verse, turned out to be his fatal flaw. Because of this same trait he sinned at the Rock, for which he was banned from entering Eretz Yisrael.

The noble trait of the leader to care for his people can be a two edged sword, when this is opposition to the word of God.

 

Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek

Published: January 10, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) dovid, January 6, 2010 2:20 AM

one possible understanding is that the lack of faith was there when moshe tried to arbitrate a recind for israel.the actuating was done at the rock just as the miracle of chanuka was the war with greece but the realization that that was a true miracle happened after the flask of oil.

(3) Yoseph Eliyahu Skaist, January 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Different approach to this Rashi is required

Rashi in Bamidbar 20 clearly states that the sin of Moshe was that this time he was commanded to talk to the rock. He did tell a different rock to give forth water and nothing happened. They then got ahold of the original rock that he had been commanded to hit the first time (Shmos 17) and instead of doing what he was commanded this time which was to speak to it, he hit it. Rashi explains that he hit it twice because since he had not been commanded to hit it, at first it only gave forth drops, so he had to hit it again to get more out of it. Nothing to do with a sin of haste because of "his inability to tolerate the suffering of others, even for a moment"!

Not only that: Rashi in Perek 31, posuk 21, says that Moshe came to the sin by the rock due to anger at the people. Just the opposite of what Rabbi Bonchek wishes to propose! His piece is a nice Drush and teaches us a poignant lesson, but it is not what Rashi is telling us.

With tremendous awe for the incredible Human Being that Moshe was (even greater than an angel!), I would propose not to whitewash Rashi's explanation:

Moshe, as a person lacked a certain unquestioning faith in Hashem's actions. He thought that Hashem wanted more involvement on his part in the Geulah and later on he also had a hard time limiting his involvement in Hashem's wonders (First time "hit the rock", later just "speak to it".) He thought he was playing an active role in the Geulah and when things worsened for the Jews he was confused and hurt about his role. Therefore, he questioned Hashem as far as to why He sent him. Yet, Avraham, the one who went before Hashem and played a very active role in His deeds, did not question Hashem when He told him to do something seemingly contradictory to His own words! (In truth, to the physical eye, Moshe does take a very active role in the geulah...)

This relates directly to the sin at the rock: The entire progression from leaving Mitzrayim to entering Eretz Canaan is one of a child being born and being nursed all the way to a level of independence. The first time Hashem commanded him to hit the rock because as a newborn nation the Jews needed tangibility in order for the Nes to instill Emunah in them. Hitting a rock and bringing forth water is a much more showy way of performing the miracle and its image imposes almost a coerced faithfulness to Hashem's word. The second time, Hashem commanded to talk to the rock, to bring about a Kiddush Hashem; a more mature lesson in faithfulness to His word. Rashi says that they would make an a fortiori to themselves: If a mere rock that does not speak, does not hear, and requires no sustenance (and therefore has nothing to lose) fulfills the decree of G-d (to go against its nature!) without any forceful coercion, certainly we should as well! This was supposed to be an exercise of preparation for the Jews since their relationship with Hashem was to shift to a more physically independent mode. (No Manna etc.) In such a relationship they would not feel as compelled to fulfill Hashem's commands to the letter when not being able to see how they make sense in the bigger picture.

Moshe's sin came from this trait that when he could not understand the bigger picture as to the nature of his role as a go between, he had questions. By the rock, instead of just questioning Hashem, he publicly desecrated Hashem's name by not following His command and taking matters into his own hands. This went against the whole lesson that Hashem was trying to teach us: Even when our sustenance comes through our actions, the word of Hashem must be followed as He is ultimately the Source of all sustenance and success.

Rashi is not saying that Hashem is punishing Moshe now. Read closely:

Therefore "Now you will see. Only that which will be done to Pharaoh will you see, but not (later) that which will be done to the kings of the seven nations when I will bring them (Israel) to the Land."

Hashem is giving Moshe mussar and is stating "prophetically" a fact. Namely, that this trait will lead Moshe to a point where Hashem would have no choice but to not let him in to Canaan. It is referring to the sin by the rock. We find similar occurrences of this according to Rashi. For an example look at Rashi on Bamidbar 14, posuk 33.
This Pshat is not a contradiction to the fact that Moshe was the greatest Anav. On the contrary it reinforces it, but that is for another time and place ...

(2) Shaule, January 12, 2004 12:00 AM

This is wonderful

I have just found this "What's Bothering Rashi?" on aish.com, and I think it's great.
Since I first was introduced to Rashi back in Merricmack Valley Hebrew Academy Grade 5, I have loved Rashi...
Unfortunately, since then my access and understanding has not been up to the task... I have gotten a few books with English translations of Rashi... and enjoy them... And this... this goes a step beyond mere translations and points out the beautiful and the reason why Rashi appears in so many books.

I greatly look forward to more and greater things.

(1) Lindsay, January 11, 2004 12:00 AM

Teriffic analysis; detailed and enjoyable!

I found this in-depth analysis on Rashi's Torah commentary (Shmot; Exodus) fascinating. A teriffic analysis- detailed and enjoyable!

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