Parsha of the week

Parasha Chukkat (Decree)

Numbers 19:1 - 22:1

* The laws of the red heifer to purify a person who has had contact with a corpse are given.

* The people arrive at the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies and is buried there.

* The people complain that they have no water. Moses strikes the rock to get water for them. God tells Moses and Aaron they will not enter the Land of Israel.

* The king of Edom refuses to let the Children of Israel pass through his land. After Aaron's priestly garments are given to his son Eleazer, Aaron dies.

* After they are punished for complaining about the lack of bread and water, the Israelites repent and are victorious in battle against the Amorites and the people of Bashan, whose lands they capture.

When I read the very end of the Torah that Moses is lauded, but not allowed to enter the Land of Israel, I am always sad and go back into Torah to figure out if his transgressions were indeed so heinous as to warrant such a punishment. Although the list of reasons is longish, Parashat Chukkat shows God's "final straw" as God tells Moses to speak to the rock to provide water for the tribes and their flocks. But, Moses angrily strikes the rock twice, disobeying God's direct order, so God tells him and Aaron that they will not enter the land. Whether through anger or doubt or frustration, Moses at this moment does not believe or trust God and he pays the ultimate price for it, and he loses both his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron.

Rabbi Robbi