The story of Aaron's death is immediately followed in this week’s reading by a short passage of three verses, dealing with a battle the Israelites fought against the Canaanite king of Arad.  This battle takes place in two stages:  first the Canaanites attack the Israelites and even take some people captive, and then the Israelites make a vow to the Lord, vanquish the attacking people and proscribe their towns, apparently located on the western side of the Jordan (Num. 21:1-3). Full Article>>

What woman does not dream of being a mother?  Even as infants, the holy tongue bids us:  Yaldah—the one who has already born (Heb. yaldah) children, whereas the sons are called yeled, in the future, one who will have children.  Even among single women who had been waiting a long time for a mate I can discern how, bit by bit, the worries of being single as they grow older turn into worries about the motherhood which might not be realized.  But sometimes it seems that the great women who dream to be mothers are actually the mothers themselves:  Am I good enough at mothering?  Do I have the talents required to be a mother?  What abilities, indeed, does this “profession” require? Full Article>>

Aaron as Loving Peace and Pursuing It
By: Dr. Gilead Sasson

This week’s reading tells of the death of Aaron, one of the central figures in the Torah.  Aaron the Priest is known as “loving peace and pursuing peace.” The source for ascribing these traits to Aaron comes from the words of Hillel in the Mishnah (Avot 1.12, according to the Kaufman manuscript): “Hillel said: Be a disciple of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind and drawing them closer to the Torah.” Pursuing peace and loving mankind are traits associated with Hillel himself in the writings of the Sages, as evinced by several stories in the Talmud (Shabbat 30b-31a); and Hillel sought to pass these characteristics on to his disciples. Whence, we must ask, did Hillel deduce that these traits were also characteristic of Aaron? Full Article>>

On Serpents Heavenly and Earthly
By: Shemer (Dan Shmeur) Arieli

The story of the copper serpent presents a well-known theological difficulty, put by the Sages[1] and cited by Rashi in his commentary on Numbers 21:8:  "Can a snake cause death or give life?"  That is to say, did the stylized serpent have autonomous power to heal people of snake bites?  The explanation given was that the power to cause death or give life lay not in the snake but in the power of faith in the Lord, in He who gave us the commandments, to heal the sick.[2]  In other words, we are not dealing here with magic but with the will of G-d to bring about a cure by means of the copper snake. Full Article >>
"Let me pass through your country"
By: Alexander Klein
This week's reading tells us that Moses requested Sihon king of the Amorites to permit the Israelites to pass through his country and promised that they would cause no damage.  Sihon responded not only by refusing Moses' request but even by going to war against Israel, a war in which Sihon was defeated, his people totally wiped out, and the tribe of Reuben settled in his territory. Now in Deuteronomy we are told that the Amorites must be wiped out:  "You shall not let a soul remain alive.  No, you must proscribe them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—as the Lord your G-d has commanded you" (Deut. 20:16-17).  The question arises:  how could Moses have given in when it came to destroying Sihon and his people? Full Article >>

For more on Parshat Chukat

Last modified: 21/06/2018