When Yisrael complained for water to drink, Moshe was commanded to speak to the rock ונתנו מימיו and its waters will come out )Chukas 20,8). Instead Moshe Rabbeinu struck the rock and the passuk says ויצאו מים רבים bountiful waters came forth. Hashem tells Moshe ויצאו מימיו that its waters will come out. Can it possibly be that Moshe is being rewarded for his transgression that more water poured forth than the original intention of Hashem?
We could answer this question similarly to the interpretation given in the parsha of Shemitah where the passuk says (Vayikrah 25,21) וצויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה הששית ועשת את התבואה לשלש שנים . I will command my beracha and give you enough grain for three years. That is to say that when you will question how can we survive during the Shemittah year, I will cause my beracha of sustaining you with the same produce amount of of three years instead of one. However, if you don’t question me and rather trust in me with unwavering emunah, then I will give you enough sustenance of qualitative power packed nutritional food of one year’s measure to sustain you for three. For every morsel will be many times its natural satiation capability – אוכל קימעא ומתברך במעיו.
This interpretation can be applied to our pessukim as well. Had Moshe listened to the words of Hashem to speak to the rock, a minimum amount of water would have poured forth with the capacity of satiating everyone’s thirst by just drinking a little. However, once Moshe struck the rock he then triggered the takeover of the natural forces and now Yisrael needed bountiful waters to satiate the thirst of the people.
Let us suggest another interpretation to answer our question. The Chazal say that whatever Moshe Rabbeinu laid his hands on he embodied it to possess an everlasting effect. Had Moshe Rabbeinu merited to enter Eretz Yisrael and build the Bais Hamikdash, it could never have been destroyed. This poses a dangerous threat to the secured existence of Am Yisrael. For Chazal say that when Yisrael failed to fulfill their mission, the chesed of Hashem was that he displaced his anger on the wood and stones of the Bais Hamikdash destroying it instead of wiping out Am Yisrael (Aicha Rabba 4,14). Now, if the Bais Hamikdash was not capable of being destroyed then that would leave no alternative other than to destroy Am Yisrael. However, the fact that Moshe was not the one who built the Bais Hamikdash, it can be destroyed leaving Am Yisrael’s existence intact and allowing them to go into galus instead as a way of rectification and spiritual repair. So in reality, since Yisrael were to sin in Eretz Yisrael to the point of deserving destruction, it was a beracha in disguise that Moshe Rabbeinu did not enter Eretz Yisrael and build the Bais Hamikdash.
With this understanding we can glean a new insight in the words of the Torah at the beginning of Parshas Shelach שלח לך אנשים that Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to send for yourself spies. The extra word לך has many interpretations. We find a similar phrase in the beginning of Parshas Lech Lecha where Hashem tells Avraham Avinu לך לך מארצך go for yourself away from your land. There Rashi enlightens us by explaining the extra word לך to mean for your benefit because after fulfilling My command you will merit to have children. We can therefore interpret שלח לך in the same fashion. By sending spies you will benefit from it. The simple understanding of Moshe’s benefit from the spies is that because of their sin and their punishment of wandering in the desert for 40 years he will be fortunate to live another forty years. However this interpretation is difficult to accept since Moshe Rabbeinu’s constant concern for the welfare of Am Yisrael could not have been taken into consideration that his life will be extended on the chesbon of Yisrael’s suffering or compromise.
We would rather say that Moshe’s personal gain in sending the spies would be that he would have then lost the merit to enter Eretz Yisrael. For if the spies were not sent then Am Yisrael would have entered Eretz Yisrael right away avoiding the מי מריבה totally. Being the case, Moshe also would have then entered Eretz Yisrael and build the Bais Hamikdash which then could have never been destroyed. In this scenario Hashem would have had to destroy Am Yisrael and not the Bais Hamikdash. However, now that Am Yisrael were delayed in the desert for another 40 years due to the Meraglim, the episode of מי מריבה occurred causing the prohibition of Moshe Rabbeinu to enter Eretz Yisrael and securing the existence of Klal Yisrael forever through the tikkun of galus. This is Moshe’s greatest pleasure and essential concern, to guarantee the eternity of Klal Yisrael in this world as seen from his tefillos at the chait of the Aigel. This was Hashem’s intent, unknown to Moshe at that time, expressed by the usage of the extra לך in the command of sending spies which eventually evolved in guaranteeing the future of Am Yisrael.
Let us now return to our opening question in what seems to be a change in the flow of the amount of water before and after the chait. In reality we can say that there was no change and the מים רבים is alluding to something entirely different. On the passuk (Shir Hashirim 8,7) מים רבים לא יוכל לכבות את האהבה the many waters cannot extinguish the love. The Megaleh Amukos explains that the many waters mentioned in this passuk symbolize the four galuyos as hinted in the acronym of the word רבים – רומי בבל יון מדי The four exiles are compared to water whose sole intent is to extinguish the fire and passion that Yidden have to Hashem and to Torah (Megaleh Amukos).
When Hashem told Moshe to speak to the rock, the result would have been that it would give its waters and Moshe would have been able to enter Eretz Yisrael and build the Bais Hamikdash which then could have never been destroyed. However, when he hit the rock, the silver lining of Yisrael’s eternal existence was then revealed ויצאו מים רבים . Moshe Rabbeinu now activated the possible substitute of the מים רבים, the four galuyos which will now replace their annihilation.
The passuk says that Moshe struck the rock twice. If one takes the gematriah of two times the word סלע (rock) he arrives at 320. The gematriah of עצים ואבנים (with the kollel) also equals the same. This is just another allusion to the silver lining in the חטא מי מריבה which is the guarantee of Am Yisrael’s continued existence because Hashem’s anger can now be directed to the wood and stones of the Bais Hamikdash.
In fact this effect is hinted in the name מריבה which is also the acronym of the four exiles including the letter ה alluding to the fifth present galus of Yishmael brought in Chazal.
From the episode of מי מריבה the Torah immediately continues with this supporting theme in the following two pessukim (20: 14-15) ונשב במצרים ימים רבים וישלח משה מלאכים .. that we dwelled in Mitzrayim many days. Many days and not years? Can 210 years be coined many days? We find the same two words in Parshas Shmos ויהי בימים הרבים ההם (2,23). What does it mean in the many days? The common denominator between Mitzrayim and מי מריבה is that they both concern the unleashing of the four exiles.
Why is there only four galuyos when in reality there were five including Mitzrayim? The answer is that Mitzrayim is the root galus of them all and therefore it is not counted. This is hinted in the passuk ויהי בימים הרבים ההם. Like we stated above, the word רבים symbolizes the four galuyos as alluded to in its acronym. The word ימים can be read as days and also as bodies of water. This alludes to the מים רבים which describes the evil drive of the galuyos which is to extinguish the Yid’s passion for Hashem.
In the Bris Bain Habasrim the decree was to serve Mitzrayim for 400 years which was not fulfilled. Am Yisrael has to make up those missing years in the four galuyos, the רבים ימים which describes Am Yisrael’s stay in Mitzrayim. That is why we find that the gematriah of מצרים (with the kollel) equals הוא חטא מים מריבה (with the four words). The four galuyos were a two – step process. The הרבים of Mitzrayim and מריבה share the identical letters. The הרבים describes our debt to Mitzrayim which is to be paid through the four galuyos. The מריבה substantiated the four galyusos as a real option guaranteeing our continued existence. It is gevaltig that we are guaranteed existence but how do we extricate ourselves from this quicksand of the two step galus process? מריבה הרבים is the gematriah of תפלה. This hints to the Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni 106) אין ישראל נגאלין אלא מתוך תפלה Yisrael will only be redeemed through תפלה! What should we daven for? שפכי כמים לבך (Aicha 2,19) we should daven to Hashem and pour our hearts out with the plea of כמים that we are influenced to be like the מים the nations of the galus. They have affected the passion of our hearts to desire rather the fleeting materialism and pleasures that they crave and pursue. Hashem help me to be נכח פני ה’ in front of the Aron Hakodesh, a gemarah, Tehillim, Siddur, Mitzvah, and not only in front of a hand held screen. Remove me from the galus which makes me bitter inside as hinted in the wordבי מר – רבים and bring on the geulah with its full embracing light and sweetness. Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil