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Chukas: Humbly Asked Him to Remove Our Defects of Character

obormottel Friday, 26 June 2015

In this portion, the Israelites complain that they have no water. Hashem tells Moses to order a rock to give water. Since in a previous episode, Hashem told Moses to hit the rock with his rod, Moses did so again. Hashem told Moses that he forfeited the right to enter Canaan with his people.

Rambam says that Moses’ sin was not the hitting of the rock, but rather that he lost control of his anger and called the Israelites “rebellious.” Losing control over one’s anger is a serious violation, which the Talmud equates with idolatry.

We cannot help feeling anger when provoked, but we should at all times avoid going into rage. The Talmud says that when a person is enraged, their judgment is distorted, and “all the forces of hell dominate him.”

In a letter to his son, Ramban counsels him to avoid rage, because controlling one’s anger leads to development of fine character traits.

But what do you do if you fail to control it time and again? You ask Hashem to remove this defect of character and thus "make room" for the fine traits to enter.