Published Date: June 21, 2020
This Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Chukat Numbers 19:1-22:1, begins with the laws of the red heifer, an unusual ritual which causes the participant to become pure, but those involved in the preparation to become impure. From there, the narrative picks up again with the death of Moses’s sister, Miriam, and a lack of water for the people. Moses and Aaron are told by God that they have failed to sanctify His name before the people and as a result are destined to die in the desert. In fact, Aaron’s death is also recorded in this portion.
Other escapades include encounters with Canaanites, with Edom, with Amorites and with fiery serpents.
Topic 1: The Red Heifer
The Torah describes the mysterious laws of the Red Heifer, a rite which purifies those who have come in contact, directly or indirectly, with the dead. A completely red calf which has never been used for work must be taken outside the camp, slaughtered and burned. A sprig of hyssop, cedar wood, and a strand… Read More »
Topic 2: Moses and the Rock
Miriam dies and is buried in the Wilderness of Zin. There, the people run out of water and begin to complain. Not only have Moses and Aaron not led them to a fertile land as promised, but there isn’t even any water to drink! They bemoan the fact that they did not die in Korach’s… Read More »
Topic 3: Journeys through the Desert
What follows is a series of incidents that occur as the Israelites travel through the desert. First, Moses requests permission from the king of Edom to pass through his land but is refused and the people are forced to go the long way around. Aaron’s death approaches, and God instructs Moses to take his… Read More »