Thursday 11 July 2024

Shabbos Tzetl: Chukat

5:00pm - Candle Lighting, Friday
6:01pm - Havdalah, Saturday
(Melbourne Australia)
Eruv Status: KOSHER
Good Shabbos!

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Numbers 19:1–22:1
The name of the Parshah, "Chukat," means "Statute" and it is found in Numbers 19:2.

Moses is taught the laws of the red heifer, whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body.

After forty years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies, and the people thirst for water. G‑d tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water. Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is told by G‑d that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land.

Aaron dies at Hor Hahar and is succeeded in the high priesthood by his son Elazar. Venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp after yet another eruption of discontent in which the people "speak against G‑d and Moses"; G‑d tells Moses to place a brass serpent upon a high pole, and all who will gaze heavenward will be healed. The people sing a song in honor of the miraculous well that provided them water in the desert.

Moses leads the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og (who seek to prevent Israel's passage through their territory) and conquers their lands, which lie east of the Jordan.

Judges 11:1-33
This week's haftorah describes how the people of Israel were attacked by the nation of Ammon. The Israelites engaged Jephtah to lead them in battle against this military threat. Jephtah first sent a missive to Ammon, declaring his peaceful intentions. In his message, he also discussed the Israelites' conquest of the lands of Sichon and Og, victories which are related in this week's Torah reading.

Jephtah the Gileadite was the son of a harlot. He was sent away from his home by his half-siblings, and settled in the land of Tob where he became a great warrior. When the nation of Ammon attacked the people of Israel, Jephtah was called upon to lead the Israelites in battle. Jephtah agreed, on one condition: "If you bring me back to fight with the children of Ammon, and G‑d delivers them before me, I will become your head." The Israelites accepted his terms.

Jepthah tried to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict by sending messengers to reason with the king of Ammon; but the latter remained inflexible. Jephtah then successfully led his countrymen in battle, and they trounced and eliminated the Ammonite threat.


We will not drink of the water of the well (20:17)

It should have said, "water of the wells," should it not? Why does it say "the well"? But this is what Moses said: "Although we have with us manna to eat and the well of Miriam to provide us with water, we shall not drink from it. Instead, we will purchase food and water from you, to benefit you."

Here the Torah teaches you a rule of good conduct: If a man goes to a country that is not his, though he possesses all his requirements, he should not eat of what he has, but should leave over his own and buy from the shopkeeper, so as to benefit him.

(Rashi; Midrash Rabbah)

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