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Home » Chukat

Chukat: Food for Thought for Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on June 29, 2008 – 4:07 amNo Comment | 2,316 views

Sunday: A Prototype

The Red Heifer is introduced with the words, “this is the decree of the Torah.” This is not the only decree of the Torah, but it is a microcosm of all the Torah’s decrees. The underlying purpose of every mitzvah is twofold: to uplift the person who performs the Mitzvah and to draw down the Divine energy invested in the Mitzvah. This dual effect contains opposite, but complimentary flows. The Jew ascends and the Divine energy descends. This dynamic is clearly evidenced in the mitzvah of the Red Heifer. The Heifer was incinerated and its ashes were mixed into water. Fire symbolizes ascent for flames constantly rise and water symbolizes descent for water flows constantly downward. In this sense, the Red heifer is the prototype Mitzvah. Reflecting on the ascent/descent dynamic of every mitzvah allows us to offer a conceptual Red Heifer even though the sacrificial rite is no longer in effect. Likutei Torah

Monday: She Lives On

The Torah tells us that while the Jews sojourned in Kadesh, “Miriam died there.” The word “there” seems redundant since we already knew that she was in Kadesh. The body dies, but the soul does not, it continues to live on a higher plane. The message in the word “there” is that Miriam died “there,” In Kadesh, but elsewhere, namely in heaven, her soul lived on. Orach Chayim

Tuesday: Striking a Student

Moshe was instructed to tell the rock to pour forth water, but instead he struck it. Several decades earlier G-d did in fact instruct Moshe to strike the rock, but this time G-d instructed him to talk to it.

When children are young they are sometimes struck when they disobey because they are unable to understand the importance of a particular instruction and are liable to place themselves in danger. When they mature it is counterproductive to strike them. It does not teach them a lesson it only encourages them to rebel. Even if we compel them to obey through excessive force we will still have won the battle, but lost the war. This message was reflected in G-d’s instruction to Moshe. When the rock was young, in the beginning of the Jewish journey across the desert, Moshe was instructed to strike it, but when it was older he was instructed to talk to it. Kli Yakar

Wednesday: All for the Best

“He sent an angel who took us from Egypt”. Rashi explains that this angel was in fact Moshe. Why are angels or prophets not sent to redeem us from our Exile? Many years before Moshe liberated the Jews he prevailed upon Pharaoh to alleviate their suffering. Despite Moshe’s noble intention this was not in the best interest of the Jews. G-d, in His infinite wisdom saw fit to set a quota of suffering for our ancestors in Egypt and until they filled their quota they would have to remain in exile. Alleviating their suffering only prolonged their exile. G-d therefore orchestrated events that drove Moshe from Egypt till the time came to redeem the people. Perhaps this is also why we are not sent prophets or angels who might alleviate our suffering. Ultimately this is in our best interest as it hastens the date of our redemption. Chafetz Chayim.

Thursday: Why They Mourned

With the passing of Aharon the Jewish people mourned yet we don’t find that they (even the women) mourned the passing of Miriam. When the righteous pass away we do not mourn for them because we know that they are destined for a better existence than the one they left behind. Their award awaits them in heaven. However, we mourn our loss because with the passing of a righteous person the generation loses a powerful advocate who channels Divine blessing to the generation.

When Miriam passed on the people did not mourn. They were happy for her and did not yet know the effect of a Tzadik’s passing on the generation. They learned about this effect when they saw their miraculous well suddenly dry up after her passing. When Aharon passed away, the people were already familiar with the effect of a great person’s passing and cried for the loss of blessing that they anticipated. Indeed, following the passing of Aharon, the clouds of glory departed from the Jewish people. Ksav Sofer

Friday: The Lay Person

“Then Israel sang this song . . . . Well that princes have dug, that the nobles of the people had excavated.” Why did Moshe not lead this song this time as he led the singing at the Reed Sea?

This event occurred just after the passing of Miriam and Aharon, when the Jews worried about their ability to carry on after Moshe’s would pass on. They sang this song for encouragement. “Well that princes have dug,” the princes are Moshe and Aharon and the well was a reference to the storied journey across the desert that was made possible through the guidance of Moshe and Aharon. However, once the princes dug the well it would continue to give water for the lay people, “The nobles of the people,” the lay people who were ennobled by their contact with the princes, “had excavated,” would be able to further excavate the well and dig even deeper than the princes did. They would grow to even greater heights than that which they achieved under the guidance of Moshe. Sefas Emes

Shabbat: Offer of Peace

Moshe was not required to make a peace offering to the Emorites for the Jews were destined to inherit the Emorite land. Yet Moshe offered them peace. Despite the fact that Jews were destined to inherit the Emorite land, these regions do not enjoy the same level of sanctity enjoyed on the west  bank of the Jordan River. Moshe had hoped that all the Jews would settle in Israel proper and was quite disappointed when a number of tribes later requested permission to settle on the east bank. Offering peace was thus consistent with Moshe’s original intention to leave the Emorites in place while the Jews passed through their land and settled in Israel proper. (However, because the Emorites would be left to live on land that was destined for the Jews they would have to pay taxes to the Jews.) Ramban