Weekly Torah Portion: Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)


God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the red heifer. Miriam, Moses and Aaron’s sister, dies. Moses hits a rock to bring forth water rather than speaking to it. At the end of the parashah, Aaron dies. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“we both stared down at a small round grave marker nestled under overgrown grass. It simply said ‘baby Vance.’ Puzzled, I asked, ‘Who is this?’ My Mom quietly replied, ‘This is your younger sister.'” – Bracha Yael in 2011 Read the full drash

“Often, I think, we try to understand G-d in order to be closer to G-d. This is especially true whenever something painful or tragic occurs in our lives.” – Angela Brown in 2003. Read the full drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“The Israelites then marched on and encamped in the steppes of Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho.” (Numbers 22:1; Parashat Chukat)

Other Suggested Readings

This Torah portion records Miriam’s death in one pithy verse, Miriam died there and was buried there. Unlike the 30 day mourning period for her brother Aaron, who dies later in the Torah portion, neither her brothers nor the community formally observe Miriam’s death.

Even though the Torah declares Miriam a “prophet,” a designation never bestowed on Aaron. Instead the Torah quickly turns to a seemingly unrelated topic: the heated quarrel between Moses and the Israelites over the absence of water and its dramatic fallout, God banning Moses from entering the Promised Land.

Rabbi Lisa Edwards believes these seemingly unrelated events are linked. In her URJ commentary on Chukat, ‘The Gift of Grief,’ she argues that unaware grief and unresolved loss can lead to grave consequences as in this case. Read here

When do we lose trust that our words, that speech, that just saying what we want, or need can make an impact? When do we bring emotion and a forcefulness into our communication that obscures our main message? Read Leah Zimmerman’s Experiencing Torah

*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

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