Rabbi Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
Rabbi Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook Mark Bason collection

What is the meaning of God’s instruction to Moses to speak to the rock? Can rocks hear us?

The short answer is — yes! Nature and all of its laws are listening. They listen for the call of redemption. They yearn for the redemptive light that preceded the creation of the universe.

When this unifying light is revealed, the world’s divided factions become linked and bound to their underlying foundation.1

As Moses approached to speak to the rock, all of creation was listening. Tragically, instead of speaking, Moses hit the rock. The waters, meant to revive and nourish the people, instead became MeiMerivah — “Waters of Dispute,” bringing conflict and discord into the world.

With his impatience and anger, Moses introduced a framework of coercion and force into the world, thus debasing the universe. The world was no longer ready to listen in attentive quietude to the inner voice of the Infinite.

The paradigm shifted from speaking to striking, from receptive listening to coercive force.

A World That Listens

This tragic discord will be healed through the Divine spirit that flows within the wisdom of Israel. The flowing waters of Israel’s wellspring — the Torah — will heal the discord of MeiMerivah.

Every Jewish soul has a part in revealing this wisdom. It will arise powerfully, enabling the living word of God to penetrate all hearts. The return to patient communication will awaken the world’s latent state of listening in all its splendor.

“You have opened my ears... Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come, with a scroll of a book written for me.'” (Ps. 40:7-8)

We yearn for a world that listens with open ears, ears that are able to hear the inner call. We aspire for a world where our inner truth, the light of the Life of the worlds, is expressed, not through force and coercion, but through words and literature. “Behold, I have come, with a scroll of a book written for me.”

TikuneiZohar identifies the staff which Moses used to redeem the Jewish people as a pen. “'The staff of God’ — that is the pen.” Moses’ staff, used to strike the rock, will be transformed into a tool of communication and dialogue. And the art of literature will flourish, redeemed from its waywardness.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Shemonah Kevatzim, book VII, section 28, sent by Rabbi Chanan Morrison, ravkooktorah.org)

Illustration image: Poussin, Nicolas: Moses Striking Water from the Rock (1649).

1 “Those who rule over themselves and cleave to their Creator, utilizing the world only to aid them in serving the Creator — they uplift themselves and the universe with them" (Mesillat Yesharim, chap. 1).

The celebrated first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) is recognized as being among the most important Jewish thinkers of all time. His writings reflect the mystic's search for underlying unity in all aspects of life and the world, and his unique personality similarly united a rare combination of talents and intellectual gifts.

Rav Kook was a prominent rabbinical authority and active public leader, but at the same time a deeply religious mystic. He was both Talmudic scholar and poet, original thinker and saintly tzaddik.