BAD + BAD = GOOD
[29a middle] Mishna: When Moshe would hold up his hands up during the war with Amalek the Bnei Yisroel would be victorious. When his hands were down, the Jews would lose. So too when the Jews looked up at the copper snake they would be healed from illnesses and if not, they would not.
R’ Rosner: A SNAKE is evil and only causes further harm and illness [but yet here was the exact cause of healing]. Moshe took a bitter tree and threw it into bitter waters [and yet that is exactly what caused the waters to turn sweet!]. This demonstrates G-d’s Ultimate control! Hashem is specifically showing us that there is nothing “natural” about these circumstances in order for us not to come to any faulty conclusions.
E’s Lesson#1: Tough times call for tough measures. Instead of Hashem using subtlety, there are moments in which we need BIG messages. When things seem to be the most “illogical” and “unnatural,” we must remember to turn to G-d as He is specifically and uniquely caring for His children.
STICK vs. SNAKE
Based on R’ Tatz: The Snake is used here as a representation of pure evil and death [as was first introduced in the Garden]. This concept was already demonstrated when the miraculous STICK of GOOD ate up the SNAKES of EVIL in Egypt. Now, the Snake is wrapped around the Staff to show the Combination and ultimate union is nothing other than G-d [which is still used today as a symbol in medicine and healing; we just sometimes mistakenly disassociate it from Hashem].
E’s Lesson#2: Everything in this world can be viewed with a positive or negative spin. Our outlook and mindset define our characters and lead our actions. Let us remember to avoid gossip and immorality and lean towards Torah and good deeds. Choose to see the Staff, not the Serpent.