Through past experiences with my little brother, Liam, I have noticed that the best way to combat his temper tantrums is to be reasonable with him. I have him tell me what is wrong, or if all else fails, I use laughter to calm him down. However, there is more than one way to approach the situation, which is fighting fire with fire. This way of approaching conflicts can just make them worse. Whenever this happens, one can never fight fire with fire, or in this case one cannot fight little screaming Liam with angry mom, dad and brother. I believe instead of fighting fire with fire you’re better off just putting it out with water, and this lesson can be learned in this week’s parshat, Chukat.
After Moses bravely led the Jews out of Egypt and into the desert, they started to get concerned and frightened about their survival. Soon after Miriam had died, they started a rebellion against Aaron and Moses. As it kept growing, Moses and Aaron got more worried. So they sought help from G-d. G-d told Moses to take the staff he offered and command the rock to yield its water in front of the entire nation. Without any questions, they took the staff to the rock. However, instead of commanding it to yield water, overtaken by emotion, Moses mistakenly fought fire with fire and struck the rock. G-d purposefully commanded Moses to take a softer approach because the new generation of Jews weren’t used to the harsh approach and the violent mentality of slavery. Nevertheless, Moses was still accustomed to the hardship of slavery and that quarrelsome mentality held him back from leading the nation into the promised land, Israel.
My approach to creating change is softer. If your muffins come out undercooked, instead of throwing them on the ground and quitting, put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. Plus, if you throw them on the ground, now you have a big mess to clean up — who wants to do that? The mentality of slavery is not easily thrown off. It lasts well past the taking off of the shackles. Last time Moses was told to hit the rock and now he is supposed to take a softer approach and ask the water to come through the rock. Using a more empathetic mindset gets you better results. If Moses had taken a gentler approach and had not hit the rock, perhaps both he and Aaron would have gotten to go into Israel.
Dorian Nadiv is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.