This week we read two parshiyot, Huqat and Balaq, and catch up with our brothers in Israel. Both these parshiyot are filled with very intense, deep events that are integral to our history. Unfortunately, in this forum, we can only highlight one quick point. Let's focus on a particular lesson we can readily apply to our lives today
After the sin of Moshe and Aharon, and the punishment that Hashem bestowed upon them was declared, Bnei Yisrael continued their trek through the desert. They reached the territory of Edom and needed to pass through. Moshe asks the leaders of Edom:
"Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, but when we cried out to Hashem, He heard our cry and rought us out of Egypt. "Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king's highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory." (Numbers 20:15-17)
It is important to note that Moshe speaks nothing of the grandeur of the exodus from Egypt. He simply says that Hashem brought them out of slavery, but tells nothing of the plagues Hashem inflicted on Egypt, or any of the other miracles. The miracles and wonders that Hashem performed for the nation seemed to go unmentioned.
Why does Moshe leave these details out?
We must first understand the history of Edom. The nation of Edom descended from Esav, who was called Edom because of the redness in this hair and appearance. Edom was distant brothers to Bnei Yisrael. Moshe, in his wisdom, did not want to frighten the descendants of Esav in any way, or create jealousy between brothers. Moshe had no will to fight with them, and so there was no need to create further jealousy by describing how Hashem created miracles of the descendants of Yaacob. Moshe knew that Edom was prone to jealousy since Esav was already jealous of Yaacob "stealing" the blessings of Yishaq.
When dealing with family members, one must be extra careful how one's words will be taken. Stakes are higher, emotions are always close to the surface, and we need to consider what we say before we actually do.
A critical reader will question this devar Torah. Later in the parasha, Moshe and the nation approached Sihon, land he wished to conquer if need be. Here too, Moshe says nothing about the miracles of the Exodus:
"Let us pass through your country. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king's highway until we have passed through your territory." (21:22)
Why wouldn’t Moshe mention the wonders here? Sihon is not a distant brother of Bnei Yisrael!
In Devarim, we read the rest of the story of what Moshe really told Sihon:
"as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us—until we cross the Jordan into the land the LORD our God is giving us." (Deuteronomy 2:29)
Here we see that Moshe did try to frighten Sihon by telling him that Hashem is giving them the land, if he likes it or not.