Chukat: Water from a Stone



50 years ago, in 1967, shortly after the Six-Day War, Israel Knesset member Meir Vilner, a Communist, was stabbed by a right wing activist who was upset at Vilner’s pro-Arab, pro-USSR and anti-war stance. At the time a journalist wrote that the attacker should have stuck the knife in deeper and twisted it. How would you react to that? How did the Rebbe react to that?

Having just honored Rebbe’s 23rd yahrzeit on Gimmel Tammuz, we seek to reconnect and recommit to the Rebbe’s teachings and directives. The Rebbe’s sharp reply to the journalist teaches us a tremendous lesson gleaned from this week’s Torah reading – how to speak even to a rock … how to speak to someone who has a mind and heart of stone.

What do we do when we encounter a difficult person in life – someone who is hard-hearted, hard-headed, hard-boiled, blocked, stubborn, unreachable? How do we break through?

When someone is so blocked, do we even have the right to “intrude” into that person’s psyche and try to “force” open doors, without the proper invitation? And even when we do have that right and that invitation, how should we go about it?

This week’s Torah reading – in relating the incident known as Mei Merivah (“Waters of Dispute”) – illuminates for us the difficulty, the challenge and the proper method to be employed when trying to pierce a … “stone.”

This sermon analyzes what Moses did wrong in striking the rock, instead of speaking to it, and it presents the Torah guidelines that can be applied when trying to break through the hard defenses of another, in order to be heard by the gentle spirit that dwells inside the armor.



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