To fly off the handle. To go ballistic. To blow one’s lid. To lose it. We have many idioms in English for describing when someone loses control of their emotions and acts in a way not in accordance with their highest intentions. Unfortunately, this plethora of words would not exist were it not for the frequency with which we need to call upon them. It is all too easy to become excessively angry and to behave both impulsively and destructively…losing control unfortunately happens to all of us.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses, too, loses control. The early Israelites were complaining — yet again — and instead of following God’s recipe for drawing forth water like a baker, Moses followed it like a chef, being a little less precise with his control. His punishment should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us. Instead of rationally addressing the underlying issues, Moses lashed out in anger, and was subsequently prevented from reaching his ultimate destination. So, too, it is with us. When we lose focus, when we fly off the handle or go ballistic or lose it, we lose sight of our goal and face repercussions both immediately and for the long term.
-Rabbi Aaron Meyer