Chukat: Undressing Aaron

"Take Aaron, and Elazar his son, and bring them up to Mount Hor; and strip Aaron of his vestments, and dress Elazar his son in them; Aaron shall be gathered in and die there" (Bamidbar 20:25-26). It was only after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden that man had a need for clothing: "then the eyes of both of them [Adam and Eve] were opened and they realized that they were naked" (Breisheet 3:7). Up until the point of sin, the spiritual and physical worlds were in complete harmony; there was no need to cover any parts of our physical being.

Chukat: Marching On

Judaism is a religion that celebrates life. "Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the entire life of the world to come" (Pirkei Avot 5:22). It is only while we are alive that we can elevate ourselves through the performance of mitzvot, that we can contribute to the betterment of the world, and that we can become partners with G-d in the process of creation. There is no nobility in death.  Death defiles. "Whoever touches the corpse of any human being shall be contaminated for seven days" (Bamidbar 19:11).

Chukat: Time to Talk

Parshat Chukat marks the transition from the generation that left Egypt to the one that would enter the Land of Israel. This was a transition marked by death and thus, the Torah’s description of the laws of purity and impurity stemming from contact with death form the opening unit of the parsha. The leaders of the nation—Miriam, Aharon and Moshe—would not be spared the fate of the people and would also have to die in the desert. They would not see the fruits of their labour. Zot chukat haTorah, this is the decree of the Torah.

Chukat:It's Only Natural

Judaism has always understood that miracles have very little long term impact on one's behaviour. During our nation's infancy in Egypt miracles were necessary in order to awaken us to the fact that there is a G-d who runs the world. Yet it is quite obvious that the many miracles that the Jewish people witnessed and experienced did not prevent them from disobeying G-d. We were a stiff necked, malcontent group wasting no opportunity to voice our displeasure at every turn.

Chukat: Second Chances

This week's dvar Torah is sponsored by Golda Brown and Harry Krakowsky in memory of their dear son, Moshe Chanoch, obm. The law of the red heifer serves as the break between two separate but similar narratives: those relating to the generation that left Egypt, and those relating to the generation that was about to enter the land of Israel. A cursory read of the Torah can easily lead one to think that we are reading not two different stories, but the same story told over again, akin to the narratives in Sefer Devarim.

Chukat: Dying of Thirst

One of the most beautiful and impactful aspects of the Torah is its description of the humanity of its protagonists. Their strengths and struggles, heroism and failures, highs and lows are depicted before us, allowing us to much more readily identify with and learn from them. The realization that our Avot and Imahot had many crises within their own lives, or that Moshe himself had to struggle to contain his temper, can guide us and reassure us as we struggle with our own issues.

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