Chukat 5779-2019

“Can Death Be Sweet?”
(Revised and updated from Chukat 5761-2001)

In parashat Chukat we learn of the death of Aaron, one of the Jewish people’s most beloved figures. According to the Midrash, Aaron had the privilege of leaving the physical world knowing that his children were following in his footsteps, and committed to serving the Jewish people. Aaron truly has a “sweet demise.”

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Chukat 5778-2018

"The People of Israel are Taught to be More Independent"

Miriam and Aaron have passed away. Moses will soon pass as well. The people must begin to adjust to a more natural lifestyle, rather than the supernatural life they lived during the 40 years in the wilderness.

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Chukat 5777-2017

“Moses’ Painful Words of Comfort”

During the moving ceremony marking the passing of his beloved brother Aaron, Moses forces himself to say words of comfort to Aaron that are personally devastating.

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Chukat 5776-2016

“The Bronze Serpent"

The Biblical serpent has a long and complex history and relationship with the People of Israel. The Bronze serpent represents an important change in the serpent’s role.

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Chukat 5775-2015

“Accepting the Inscrutable”

There appears to be an intriguing connection between parashat Chukat and the burning of the Talmud in Paris in 1242 by King Louis IX.

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Chukat 5774-2014

“The Inscrutable Statutes”

The rules and rituals of the Red Heifer represent a model of a “chok,” a Divine statute that seems to have no rhyme or reason. It teaches an important lesson for a person of true faith.

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Chukat 5773-2013

"Striking the Stone: the Parameters of Anger"

How lethal is anger? Moses and Aaron lost their opportunity to enter the Promised Land because of a single display of anger.

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Chukat 5772-2012

"It is a Decree Before Me–-You Have No Right to Question It!"

The Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, is one of the most enigmatic laws of the Torah. Rashi declares that the law of the Red Heifer is a decree that mortals have no right to question. Rashi then proceeds to try to explain the enigma.

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Chukat 5771-2011

"The Well of Miriam"

In parashat Chukat, the great prophetess, Miriam, passes away. The fact that, immediately after Miriam’s passing, there is no water for the People of Israel leads the rabbis to conclude that in Miriam’s merit, a well of water traveled with the people of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness, and, with her demise, the well vanished. What was the nature of Miriam’s well?

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Chukat 5770-2010

"And from Mattanah to Nahaliel"

After a series of battles and confrontations with hostile nations, the Torah, in parashat Chukat, records a lyrical but esoteric poem concerning the well of Miriam. The Talmud sees this poem as far more than a record of the historical itinerary of the people's travels in the wilderness. It is, in fact, a vital lesson of ethics and educational philosophy.

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Chukat 5768-2008

"The Death of Aaron"

Why was Aaron mourned by all the people of Israel while Moses was not? The Midrash suggests that Aaron had a very special relationship with all the people because of his great commitment to love and pursuit of peace. It was Aaron's obsession with peace that brought enemies together and turned them into friends. He was an extraordinary promoter of marital harmony between husbands and wives and was able to turn the wicked into penitents. This resulted in a powerful and abiding love that the people felt for Aaron.

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Chukat 5767-2007

"The Excesses of Rationality"

Parashat Chukat, which features the obtuse law of the Red Heifer, comes hard on the heels of Parashat Korach, the rebellion of Korach and his cohorts. The Midrash portrays at least part of Korach's rebellion as being due to his demand that everything be understood and completely rational. Chukat comes to teach that it is not the opinion of the people that determines the truth of Judaism, but rather the opinion of G-d, Torah and Moses--even though it may not be rational, such as the Red Heifer.

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Chukat 5765-2005

"Moses gets Battered by the Commentaries"

The tragic episode of Moses hitting instead of speaking to the rock at May Meriva is one of the most difficult and enigmatic in the Torah. The commentators struggle mightily with this Torah portion. As a result, many sins, mistakes and transgressions are attributed to Moses and Aaron. Are they justified?

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Chukat 5764-2004

"A Tribute to Miriam, Our Sister"

In Parashat Chukat, we are informed of the death of Miriam. Who was Miriam, and why was she so special? From the scriptural texts and the Midrashic literature, we learn that, from the time Miriam was barely a child, she was already changing the course of Jewish history with her exceptional leadership and wisdom.

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Chukat 5761-2001

"Can Death Be Sweet?"

In parashat Chukat we learn of the death of Aaron, one of the Jewish people's most beloved figures. According to the midrash, Aaron had the privilege of leaving the physical world knowing that his children were following in his footsteps, and committed to serving the Jewish people. Aaron truly has a "sweet" death.

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0 Comments7 Minutes