Immediately after Hashem criticized and punished Moshe and Aharon for hitting the rock, the scene turns to The Jewish People’s request to pass through land under Edomite control on their way to Israel. Moshe first appealed to
Edom based on
family ties. But then Moshe shifts gears and launches into what seems to be off topic: a brief history
lesson of the People in Egypt
and the Exodus from Egypt
which emerged as a result of Bnai Yisrael’s prayers.
Why does Moshe meander during his second attemt at asking Edom? How is any of this history relevant to the request for safe passage?
Moshe’s approach is worth considering and emulating. Oftentimes, the best way to convince someone of your cause is to present them with a compelling story. The perseverance of the Jewish People in
Egypt, and G-d’s salvation makes
for a good story (I think even a few movies have been produced using that script).
If anything could convince Edom
to allow Bnai Yisrael to pass through, it would be their compelling national story. The
fact that Edom still refuses Moshe's request speaks to the animosity that Edom
had, not to the weakness of the argument.
This is why this episode occurs right after the sin of Moshe/ Aharon. Whatever happened at Mei Meriva, it seems clear that had Moshe seen the bigger picture, and viewed the scene with more perspective, within context, things might have been different.
Storytelling is an important facet of being strong in one’s beliefs, as well as explaining one'sposition to others. As Orthodox Jews and Religious Zionists, we need to know our compelling story well, and not be afraid to share it with others. Whether it is our family's story, or community's story or our People's story, it behooves us to confront today's challenges by knowing our story well and telling it to others in a way that is compelling and inspires people to become part of the story in their own way.