Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Table Talk -- Chukas 5767

חקת תשס"ז – Moshe the Marketing Maven

We all think of Moshe a as talented in many different areas. We consider him a good leader; a great motivator, teacher, rabbi, and educator. But did you know that he also dabbled in marketing?

You see, every product needs a good slogan – a catchy title, a great tagline, or a eye-catching logo. After all, without proper presentation, people wouldn’t purchase the product. While we might think that we can exempt religion from this rule, Moshe understands that even religious items (and institutions) must market themselves to the public.

A case in point is the copper serpent we find in our parshah. When the people complain (once again) about being forced to take the long route to Israel, instead of fighting their way through Edom, God sends snakes to attack the camp. The people relent and beg Moshe to pray for their forgiveness. When he does, God instructs Moshe to construct a serpent, stick it up on a pole, so that should a person be bitten by a serpent, he need only gaze at the snake and he would be healed.

Following God’s instructions, Moshe constructs a copper serpent, places it on the pole, and once again saves the day. Rashi notes that nowhere does God tell Moshe what material to use to construct the snake. Why then does Moshe use copper instead of another metal?

Rashi explains that had he used silver or gold, it just wouldn’t sound right. Sound it out yourself: נחש כסף (nachash kesef) and נחש זהב (nachash zahav). They don’t really flow off the tongue. Now sound out the Hebrew for copper snake: נחש נחשת (nachash nechoshet). In this words of Rashi, לשון נופל על לשון – it’s complementary language. It’s sounds nice. Feel right.

And it’s also great marketing.