NATURAL ANGER vs. HOT TEMPER
This Shabbat we will read the Torah portion ‘Hukat’.
Our portion tells us that after forty years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Zin.
Miriam dies, and the people thirst for water.
What is the connection between Miriam’s death and the lack of water?
Millions of Jewish people survived in the desert for forty years. It was possible only through a miracle.
During their travels through the desert, the Jewish people were accompanied by a rock from which an abundant supply of water constantly flowed.
It was called Miriam’s Well – באר מרים.
This supply of water was due to Miriam’s merit being a rightious woman.
(The commentators explain that one of the most striking features of water is that its viscosity allows it to adapt perfectly to its surroundings; water will naturally assume the shape of any container into which it flows. Symbolically, Miriam represented this quality. She was able to adapt her faith and her steadfast fealty to God’s will under any and all circumstances).
And now with her death, Miriam’s Well ceased to function and the people were faced with a critical water shortage.
Therefore, G‑d tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water.
Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is told by G‑d that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land.
וַיָּרֶם מֹשֶׁה אֶת יָדוֹ וַיַּךְ אֶת הַסֶּלַע בְּמַטֵּהוּ פַּעֲמָיִם, וַיֵּצְאוּ מַיִם רַבִּים וַתֵּשְׁתְּ הָעֵדָה וּבְעִירָם
“Moshe lifted up his hand and hit the rock with his staff twice; much water came forth and the congregation and their cattle drank.” (Numbers 20:11)
Actually, because Moshe hit the rock and did not speak to it, he received a harsh punishment and did not enter the Land of Israel.
Some facts about Miriam’s Well
The famous preeminent Kabbalist master known as the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of 16th-century Jerusalem, Egypt and Tzfat, was the first to note the current location of Miriam’s Well – somewhere in the Kinneret. It is interesting to note that the archaeologist Yossi Stepansky, based on centuries-old texts and legwork around the Kinneret Sea, says he’s found the long-lost site of Miriam’s Well, as identified by the Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yitzchak Luria.
Archaeologist Stepansky has discovered the pillars of ancient synagogues alongside the Kinneret Sea, which have long been considered the landmarks for Miriam’s Well, near the Tiberias Municipal Beach, in the southern part of the city.
It is told that Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin once saw his son get angry at someone, and then became angry again.
The father said to the son: We see that Moshe our Teacher who hit the rock twice received a harsh punishment and did not enter the Land of Israel.
From this we learn that if a person gets angry once, this can happen and it is natural.
But, if he gets angry twice in a row – it is a sign that he is hot-tempered – כַּעֲסָן , and that is a very bad characteristic!