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Chukat

Chukat

The Ritual Law
Numbers
19:1−22:1

The Eternal One spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "This is the ritual law that the Eternal has commanded: Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid." - Numbers 19:1-2

Summary: 
  • The laws of the red heifer to purify a person who has had contact with a corpse are given. (19:1-22)
  • The people arrive at the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies and is buried there. (20:1)
  • 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. (20:2-13)
  • 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. (20:14-29)
  • 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. (21:4-22:1)

When do we read Chukat?

2017 Jul 1 /7 Tammuz, 5777
2018 Jun 23 /10 Tammuz, 5778

RECENT COMMENTARY

  • By Joseph A. Skloot

    The author Anita Diamant boldly pronounced, "This is a generation who have no use for the closeted Jew; the polite, blandly American and only privately Jewish Jews. No more Seinfeld; this bunch is Jewish inside and out" ("Minhag America," HUC-JIR graduation ceremony, April 30, 2008). Her words have not lost any of their resonance in the intervening years.

    Alongside her words, we might place those of Rashi, as our Torah commentator of record, on this week's Torah reading, Parashat ChukatChukat begins with an explanation of the parah adumah, "red heifer," ritual. In short, the Israelites are commanded to produce a "red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid" (Numbers 19:2), slaughter it, burn it, and transform the ashes into a special "water of lustration" (19:9), used to render what has become impure, pure again.

  • Torah for Tots

    Moses and Aaron came away from the congregation to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and fell on their faces.

  • Torah for Tweens

    This week we read a double portion, Parashat Chukat is most remembered for the laws concerning the red heifer, God's punishment to Moses and Aaron, forbidding them to enter the Promised Land, and Aaron's death.

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