Parshas Bamidbar 5775

The Medrash comments on the opening possuk in our parsha, “And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Desert of Sinai….”, “This possuk is understood according to the possuk in Tehillim, ‘Your (Hashem’s) judgement is (severe) like the deep waters’.
Zera Shimshon asks the obvious question, “What is the connection between our possuk and the fact that Hashem’s judgement is (severe) like the deep waters”?
He explains this in light of a machlokos about what is the actual name of the mountain that the Torah was given on (Shabbos 89a-b). 
Rav Chisda and Rabba the son of  Rav Hunna maintain that the actual name of that area is Chorev. The Torah refers to it as Sinai because Hashem hated the ancient idolatrous nations of the world who refused to accept the Torah (the Hebrew word for hatred is sinna).
On the other hand, Rebbi Avuha maintains that its actual name is Sinai. The Torah refers to it as Chorev because the ancient idolatrous nations of the world that didn’t accept the Torah were punished that they will eventually be destroyed (the Hebrew word for “destroy” is chorov). 
In light of the above Zera Shimshon explains the Medrash
The Medrash understood by the fact that the Torah called this area the Desert of Sinai and not the Desert of Chorev that this is the actual name of that area (and the mountain that is there) in accordance with Rebbi Avuha’s position. In the other places that the Chumash refers to it as Sinai the Medrash cannot conclude that this is its actual name. In those places the Torah is speaking about the mitzvos we received there and so it is fully suitable and understandable why the Torah refers to it by he name that describes what happened there. The difficulty of keeping the  mitzvos is the reason that the idolatrous nations didn’t accept the Torah!   
Only here, when the area is mentioned in connection with the census, totally independent of any mitzvos, did the Medrash conclude that this is its actual name.
If Sinai is the actual name then not only did Hashem hate the ancient idolatrous nations but H. also decreed on them eventual total destruction. How can we understand such a harsh punishment?
This is the meaning, concludes Zera Shimshon, of the Medrash that brings the possuk ‘Your (Hashem’s) judgement is (severe) like the deep waters’. It is to bring a source  that Hashem’s punishment can be extremely harsh! 
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