The Sedra of Chukat begins with the very strange but yet significant laws of the Red Heifer. A red cow though extremely rare even in ancient times, would be purchased and its ashes used in the process of purification. Our Sedra is also famous as it includes Moshe hitting a rock in the desert to provide the
people with drinking water. God’s instruction to Moshe had been to speak to the rock to elicit the water. God, angered by Moshe’s disobedience, punishes him by denying Moshe the right to lead the Jewish People into the Land of Israel. He had led them through, epic battles, uprisings and incredible miracles all so that the Jewish People could patiently make their way into Israel. And now in a moment of apparent anger, it’s all gone. Moshe would watch from afar, seeing his nation live their dreams without him.
To question this further, the verse states “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Mein the eyes of the Children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the
Land that I will give them.” Is it possible that Moshe did not believe in Hashem? Is it possible that the greatest prophet to ever live would stubbornly go against the wishes of his Creator? Moshe’s failing wasn’t his own belief as much as he failed to make God more believable in the eyes of the congregation. Rashi, in his explanation, describes that had Moshe spoken to the rock in the manner that he was commanded, the people would have reacted by saying “if this rock, which neither speakers nor hears, fulfils the word of God, how much more so should we fulfil his word.”
God wanted them to learn a valuable lesson, deepening their faith and commitment. On entering the land open miracles would cease on a daily basis leaving them to fend for themselves at the hand of nature. He wanted them to realise that even though the manna would no longer fall, their clothes would not be cleaned and their water would not be so easily available, nature works at the behest of God and it would still be Him sustaining them.
Furthermore, this rock was supposed to strengthen their resolve to carry out His every command, encouraging them to continue their pursuit to build an ever deepening relationship with their creator. The grave sin of Moshe was denying the Children of Israel this valuable lesson.
The greatness of a leader is demonstrated in how he builds his flock. Can he inspire them to greater heights; can he guide them to clarity and understanding? All of us are leaders in some capacity, either in business, at home, school or amongst friends. As Jews, we are leaders to other nations and in doing so must teach them how to live socially moral and ethically correct lives. How do we do this? By learning from what God is teaching us in this week’s sedra. We need to make God more believable in their eyes, both the Jewish and non-Jewish world. We need to be Kiddushei Hashem, literally sanctifying His name, being role models and an example to the rest of the world