Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Learning to Listen

Rabbi Jay M. Stein on Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

“You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water… Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He had commanded him… And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod.” (Numbers 20:8, 9, 11)

"Read the directions" before beginning the exam are the instructions we are given from the earliest age. Most children want to jump right in and show how much they know even without fully understanding what is being asked of them.

Often in life we are zealous to achieve, to go, to do and in the process, we neglect that which is most important.  We want and forget to say thank you. We desire and forget to say thank you. We must move on to the next thing and forget pause and appreciate.

This story has often been understood as the reason why Moses was not permitted into the land of Israel.  Had he learned to speak rather than hit, he would have learned the critical lesson of the power of speech over the power of the sword.  Today, I offer the suggestions that it is as much about learning to listen as it is about learning to speak. Had Moses listened carefully to the instructions maybe he would have had the opportunity to enter the land of Israel.