Moses descended from Mt. Sinai, but as he sees the children of Israel singing and dancing around a Golden Calf, he lets his temper get to him; and what does he do? He takes those stone tablets and throws them down and breaks them. The tablets are no longer stone; they are just a bunch of rocks.
WE WILL, WE WILL ROCK YOU … ROCK YOU…
Later, in the Torah, we read about Moses and rocks again.
The children of Israel cry out for water. Moses turns to G-d and He tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will fl ow. But it seems that Moses still has a problem because, instead of speaking to the rock, he hits it. In the JPS translation of the Torah, rather than saying, “speak to the rock,” it says, “… before their eyes, you shall order the rock …”
No matter which translation you use, it is pretty apparent that Moses was told not to hit the rock, but rather, to speak to the rock.
But, why does G-d tell Moses to speak to a rock? The Sages wisely asked, “Does a rock have ears with which to hear or eyes with which to see?”
So who was supposed to hear Moses’ words? In Numbers 20:7-8 we read that Moses is “to speak in front of their eyes…” That’s right, the children of Israel have eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear.
It is no secret that when we try to teach Torah to some people, it is like talking to a rock. They are not open to hearing the words. It gets frustrating and sometimes we have an urge to lash out. But let’s learn from the greatest of all teachers, from Moses himself, that lashing out at the people is not going to satisfy their thirst.
I don’t know if you remember studying rocks in school, but there are three different types:
The first is Igneous. The word igneous comes from the Latin root, ignis, which means fire. Igneous rocks are formed as they cool off after a great heat. If you look in the Thesaurus, you will find the synonyms quite interesting, as they include hot-headed and impulsive. Yet it also includes passionate and enthusiastic.
Moses was passionate; he was enthusiastic. He also could be rather impulsive. As human beings, we all have a bit of the igneous rock within us.
Then there is the Sedimentary rock, a layered rock that comes from many grains, including fossils of just about everything from the past including remnants of the dinosaur. As humans, we have many layers and come in many grains, and, we all carry remnants of our past.
And last, but certainly not least, there are the metamorphic rocks. These rocks change over the years, as the things they go through, all the pressure and all the heat, give them new shape.
Again, I turn to the Thesaurus and find that the synonyms for metamorphic include to age or to mature. Also included in the synonyms are to develop. As humans, we should be constantly trying to grow and mature, to develop ourselves.
We are rocks Igneous ,and, as such, we need to learn to be less hot headed and more passionate. We are the rocks Sedimentary, and, as such, we need to learn to handle the heat and play it cool. We are the rocks Metamorphic, may the changes we make in ourselves and in this world be for a blessing.
Shalom my friends,
Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains. He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice. He is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach.