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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)

Chukat

When do we read Chukat?

2016 Jul 16 /10 Tammuz, 5776
2017 Jul 1 /7 Tammuz, 5777
2018 Jun 23 /10 Tammuz, 5778

RECENT COMMENTARY

  • By Steven Kushner

    It is the most enigmatic mitzvah in all of Torah: the parah adumah, the "red heifer." If a person comes in contact with a human corpse, she or he must go for ritual cleansing. The "defiled" individual shall then be sprinkled with a concoction made of the mixture of fresh water (literally "living" waters, mayim chayim) and the ashes of a slaughtered and burned "red" cow that had absolutely no blemishes nor ever bore a yoke. But here's the paradox: while the mixture of these "waters of lustration" (mei nidah) cleansed the person who had been rendered ritually impure by contact with a corpse, the individuals who burned the cow, made contact with its ashes, and sprinkled the mixture on the "defiled" person would be rendered impure in the process. In other words, the act of making one person ritually pure makes the purveyor of purity impure.

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