BITESIZE TORAH – RABBI SAM TAYLOR

Just before hitting the rock, Moshe Rabbeinu scolds the Children of Israel, calling the nation “morim,” a somewhat ambiguous term. Rashi explains the word as meaning “fools, who instruct their instructors.” It seems that Rashi combines two completely different interpretations of the word: fools, and those who arrogantly boss around their superiors. Which interpretation is the correct one? If they are both plausible, then why did Rashi not present them as two separate explanations?

The Chiddushei HaRim answers that indeed Rashi here offers only one interpretation. Quite simply, there is no greater stupidity than looking to outsmart one’s mentors. The truly intelligent person is the one who looks to others for guidance while at the same time exercising his own discretion and wisdom to filter that incoming information. The one who presumes total knowledge and proper understanding without seeking the advice or guidance of those greater than he is the foremost fool.