Are You Stuck?

by | Apr 27, 2007 | 0 comments

The greatest attribute of our people is that we are a stiff necked people. The greatest fault of our people is that we are a stiff necked people!

There was a plague in the desert which was caused by the complaining and bickering of the Jewish people.

They were kvetching about the food, the heat, the constant moving that had to be done. After everything Hashem did for the Jewish people, this complaining made G-d angry so he sent them a plague of poisonous snakes. Can you imagine the horror? Every step they took they had to make sure there was no snake in the sand. They went to sleep in horror- not knowing if they would get bitten in the middle of the night. If hard to find water was left out they wouldn�t drink it � maybe a snake injected some venom in the drink. Many people became sick, many died.

Moshe prayed to Hashem. Hashem instructed Moshe to make a Nachash Nechoshes, a copper snake, and put it on a flag pole. Nachash Nechoshes. Sounds almost like a play on words. Nachash means a snake, Nechoshes means copper.

Everyone would look up at the caduceus. A caduceus (kerykeion in Greek) staff with two snakes wrapped around it.

Today the caduceus (Kadusious) is a medical symbol associated with the Greek god Hermes. Of course the real origin is our Parsha. What was the meaning of a copper snake?

Copper was the hardest most inflexible material in the desert. Copper was the symbol of inflexibility. The snake has no backbone to speak of. A snake can curl into a little ball. A snake is the ultimate in flexibility.

The Jewish people had a problem. They were having a difficult time with change. Even a change for the better was a problem. The greatest attribute of our people is that we are a stiff necked people. The greatest fault of our people is that we are a stiffed neck people!

If we are going to make it through the deserts of life and history we are going to have to be flexible in our inflexibility. Golus is not for those that get stuck. If we want to be free from Golus we can�t get stuck � Geula is not for those that got stuck.

I often look around me and see people that are so talented and bright and yet they don�t seem to get anywhere!. None of their dreams seem to be realized. Most of them have the potential to do very great things but they can�t. They are stuck! It�s very scary to see. Yet if we weren�t so stubborn we would be a forgotten species. It was our stiff neck that made us resist persucution, missionaries and pain to stay Jewish.

Hashem said to Moshe: Teach the people the secret of the �Nachash Nechoshes.� To have the stregnth of copper while having the flexibility of a snake. Teach them the secret of being Jewish.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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