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The Stick & the Rock: The Rogatchover Reframes the Story

The Day Normal Family Life Was Disrupted

1 hr 51 min

Rabbi Yosef Rozen, the Rogatchover Gaon (1858-1936)

Class Summary:

At last, the great moment had arrived. For forty years, the Jewish People had wandered together through the desert. The older generation had already passed on. Even beloved Miriam was no more. By now, under the leadership of Moses, the young nation of Israel was finally ready to enter the Promised Land. But an incident occurred that would transform the nation's destiny.

The people run out of water. They cry to Moses, who turns to G-d. G-d commands Moses to produce water from a rock miraculously, by speaking to it. Instead, Moses hits the rock twice, which indeed produces water. It is the most subtle and enigmatic ‘sin’ in the entire Torah, yet because of it Moses’ greatest dream is shattered and he is denied entry into the Land of Israel.

What exactly was Moses’ sin? There are dozens of divergent interpretations. The common denominator behind all of them is that somehow this was a rebellion against G-d or a demonstration of an apparent flaw in Moses. But maybe we have to read the story differently?

It was the Rogatchover Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rosen (1858-1936), who reframes the story completely. Moses’s error consisted of using Aaron’s wooden staff, rather than his own made of rock. As a result, Jewish women did not have a mikvah for a while and peace in the home was effected. The class explores this original insight and shows its parallels in the teachings of Kabablah and Chassidus.


Please leave your comment below!

  • א

    אברהם -3 years ago

    קשב להבין

    בפסוק עצמו כתוב פסוק י״א ויך את הסלע ״במטהו״ ולא עם המטה 

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  • E

    eli -3 years ago

    You say you didn’t understand his reference in shu’t  119, 7 to the  gemara Shabbos 66, a.  it appears to me that he is making a combination/leshitasai of reb Yossi, from the Mishna in mikvaos and the first line on top  says  reb yosey says that a false wooden leg ,if it has an opening at the top which could hold a cloth is tamei.which is like the gemara Shabbos 123,b.  we know that mateh moshe was chakuk with shem hashem, which even if it was from wood, would make it not a pshtoh klei etz, I wonder if he is learning that mateh aharon was also chakuk?then it would also be metameh the mikva  . let me know what you think, ty , elie teitelman

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  • PK

    Pesach Kornreich -5 years ago

    Why not the Almonds?

    I am confused as to why the necessity to prove Aharon's staff had a receptacle. Wasn't the fact that it had almonds growing on it sufficient to make it susceptible to impurity? Even if the staff intrinsically is not susceptible to impurity, surely it is susceptible as either a support ("yad") or protection ("shomer") for the almonds.

    I think the argument against this that at that time the almonds fell off is not valid. Part of the reason it was kept in the Kodesh HaKodashim as proof of Aharon's family's right to the priesthood was that miraculously it constantly had flowers and almonds.

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    Aron’s stick

    Beautiful well presented shiur 

    just one point to clarify what is the proof that Aron‘s stick had a קשר בראשו to be מקבל טומאה? 



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    • E

      Eli -6 years ago

      Perhaps the proof that the stick was in a fashion that was mekabel Tumah, is from the very fact that Moshe was punished. In other words the Rogatchover only had to find a hypothesis to explain why Moshe was punished, namely that he used such a stick. The fact that the pesukim support this hypothesis (המטה וכו׳) and Moshe was in fact punished, proves that the stick must have had a Kesher or some form of recepticle, otherwise why would he be punished?

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  • YY

    Y yaffee -7 years ago

    Bs'd. Would the water become for a Mikva after three tefachim of hamshachah? On the ground etc?

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Class Parshas Chukas

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • June 21, 2015
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  • 4 Tamuz 5775
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Leilu Nishmat Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז"ל.
And in the merit of our partner in Torah Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia שיחיו

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