Torah Weekly

For the week ending 13 July 2024 / 7 Tamuz 5784

Parshat Chukas

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, are detailed. These laws are for the ritual purification of one who comes into contact with death. After nearly 40 years in the desert, Miriam dies and is buried at Kadesh. The people complain about the loss of their water supply that until now has been provided miraculously in the merit of Miriam's righteousness. Aharon and Moshe pray for the people's welfare. Hashem commands them to gather the nation at Merivah and speak to a designated rock so that water will flow forth. Distressed by the people's lack of faith, Moshe hits the rock instead of speaking to it. He thus fails to produce the intended public demonstration of Hashem's mastery over the world, which would have resulted had the rock produced water merely at Moshe's word. Therefore, Hashem tells Moshe and Aharon that they will not bring the people into the Land. The Jewish People resume their travels, but because the King of Edom, a descendant of Esav, denies them passage through his country, they do not travel the most direct route to Eretz Yisrael. When they reach Mount Hor, Aharon dies and his son Elazar is invested with his priestly garments and responsibilities. Aharon was beloved by all, and the entire nation mourns him for 30 days. Sichon, the Amorite, attacks Bnei Yisrael when they ask to pass through his land. As a result, Bnei Yisrael conquer the lands that Sichon had previously seized from the Amonites on the east bank of the Jordan River.


When Success Comes Knocking

“Moshe raised his arm and struck the rock twice” (20:11)

One of my daughters is a successful architect. But it was not always that way. She spent many years honing her craft and learning by her mistakes. She said to me the other day, “Baruch Hashem, I didn’t become successful until I was ready!”

Sometimes we achieve precocious success and we’re not ready for it. And then we step up to the microphone in Carnegie Hall and show that we’re not the brilliant singer that everyone imagined we were.

Years of “paying your dues” provides us with a depth of ability which, when our big moment comes, stands us in good stead. We can go up to the mic with confidence.

Indeed, timing is important not only in our personal lives but also in the life of the Jewish People and its leaders.

Hashem commanded Moshe to speak to the rock that had previously given water, but Moshe couldn’t find it. So, he spoke to a different rock. Nothing happened. Moshe reasoned that if he couldn’t find the original rock that would yield water merely by speech, he would have to strike another rock and that would have the same effect. He was following the precedent in the Book of Exodus where indeed he had performed that miracle by striking the rock. His logic followed from the fact that Hashem had told him to bring his staff. Why else would Hashem have instructed him to bring his staff if not to strike the rock?

He struck the rock but only a trickle of water emerged. He struck it a second time and then a flood of water began to flow forth.

But that was not the way Hashem wanted the miracle to take place.

Moshe should have gone to every rock and spoken to it until he found the right one.

The right rock – at the right time.

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