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Friday, July 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Chukas-Balak

    This week's parsha contains the unfortunate events of "Mei Merivah." The tragic outcome of that incident was that neither Moshe nor Aharon were allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel. Moshe's role is clear and it is understandable that he is punished. However, it is difficult to comprehend why Aharon is held responsible to the point that he received the very same punishment.
    I wasn't able to find too much discussion on this in the commentaries. Some suggest that Aharon should have objected to Moshe's hitting of the rock. However, HaShem commanded Moshe directly and it is unclear that Aharon even knew Moshe was doing something wrong.
    R' Moshe Shternbuch, in Ta'am VaDa'as states simply that Aharon was punished merely because he was together with Moshe. They worked as a team, and they went down as a team. It's not that there was any specific wrongdoing on his part - just his being there alongside Moshe is what included him in the punishment. With this, he explains a Midrash on the pasuk following Aharon's death. The pasuk states, (20:29) "And the congregation was fearful following Aharon's death (or because Aharon died.)" The Midrash explains that B'nei Yisroel were afraid that they, too, would meet the same demise as the generation of the spies who would all perish before entering Eretz Yisroel. R' Shternbuch explains that they observed Aharon taking the fall after Mei Merivah, even though he was not guilty of any crime. They were therefore afraid that even though they, themselves, were not responsible, nor technically involved in the sin of the spies, their mere presence at the time would be enoughto doom them to the same fate. Fortunately for them, this was not the case.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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