This Week’s Torah Portion: Chukat – Balak (Numbers 19:1−22:1, 22:2−25:9)
Our Haftorah is from Micah. The following verse is part of the beautiful tapestry that hangs in front of the Waller Chapel at The Temple:
“God has told you, human being, what is good:(Micah 6: 8)
and what does Adonai demand from you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God”
Micah is answering the people that claim that they are following what God demands from us. They are keeping all the rituals and observing all the cultic parts of our tradition.
Micah tells us that Adonai demands more than that from us! Adonai, first and foremost, wants us to behave with Justice, compassion, and mercy towards our fellow humans.
Parsha Chukat – Balak 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)
Balak, the king of Moab, persuades the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites so that he can defeat them and drive them out of the region. However, Balaam blesses the Children of Israel instead and prophesies that Israel’s enemies will be defeated. (22:2-24:25)
God punishes the Israelites with a plague for consorting with the Moabite women and their god. The plague is stayed after Pinchas kills an Israelite man and his Midianite woman. (25:1-9)