This Rashi discusses space capacity and hence we classified it as a Spreadsheet-diagram
method. To properly understand this Rashi we cite Rambam, Laws of Sales, Chapter 21, laws 6/7.
Rambam explains that every person when standing occupies a square that is roughly 6 x 7 handbreadths,
say 24 x 28 inches. To make things simple let us round up symmetrically and say that every person
can comfortably stand in a 30 x 30 (2.5' x 2.5') square. We can now explain the space capacity
of the rock.
- Every person requires a 2.5' x 2.5' square in which to stand comfortably.
- 600,000 males can stand in a 775 person x 775 person square.
- So 600,000 males can stand in a square whose sides are 775 x 2.5' = 3.5 tenths of an American mile.
- In more familiar terms the American mile is roughly 20 small city blocks.
- So 600,000 males can stand in a 7 small-city-block x 7 small-city-block square.
It is reasonable that the rock from which the water came was about 7 small-city-block squares (This
is not very big). Thus the whole nation assembled facing the rock!
The inauguration of President Barak Obama in 2008 illustrates this since there were over a million people facing the podium on which the President was sworn
in and spoke, similar to the half million people standing before the rock and Moses.
Advanced Rashi: But there is a deep punchy insight from all of this. If people are so densely
packed in 7 x 7 city blocks then the slightest uninvited movements could easily crush people. But no one was
crushed. So God's request to speak formally and politely takes on a double meaning. The nation trusted Moses.
They came out to witness the miracle of the water from the rock. When Moses insulted them and called them
rebellious he ran the risk of some rabble rousers inciting the mob leading to crushed deaths. That of course
didn't happen. But Moses had taken risks of leadership which could endanger lives and God wouldn't allow that
to be repeated. The person who led the Jews into Israel had to be mindful of the vulnerabilities of the nation.
This gives new insight both to both Moses' sin and God's punishment of Moses.