Learning Group—Parshat Chukat
(Numbers: 19:1- 22:2)
1. [19:2] “This is the law of the Torah…” This section tells us about purification. The pasuk should say that “This is the law of purification…”. Why does it say “This is the law of the Torah”?
2. [20:1] “And Miriam died there…” In relation to Miriam’s death, the Talmud tells us that “the death of the righteous brings purification from sin.” How can we understand this in a natural, non-mystical way. How does the death of righteous people affect the people he or she left behind and purify them from sin?
3. [20:8] “Take the stick, and gather the congregation…” According to the Rambam, Moshe’s sin at the rock was that he spoke in a disrespectful way to the Israelites. According to the Ramban, Moshe’s sin was the fact that he hit the rock instead of speaking to it, as he had been commanded. What is the difference between these two interpretations and which do you prefer?
4. [21:18] “and from the wilderness to Mattanah [gift].” Our mystical tradition understands that each of these stops in the wilderness represents a psychological, spiritual matter. From this pasuk it is understood that the Torah–closeness to God and spiritual wholeness– can be acquired even by someone who has not worked at it step by step, but rather acquires the Torah as a gift because of some personal quality or action. What personal quality or action could bring a person to God and spiritual wholeness?
5. [Shoftim: 11:15] “Israel did not take away the land of Moav…” Yiftach felt that he had to morally justify the fact that Israel took over the land of Moav. In the political climate of that time, he did not have to do that. Why did he try to justify the acts of the Israelites?
[21:18] “and from the wilderness to Mattanah [gift].”
At first it was thought that a person can integrate the Torah into himself by developing in the 48 ways (that are enumerated in Pirkay Avot). Then it was understood that the Torah can be acquired even by someone who has not worked at it, but rather acquires the Torah as a gift. This happens when someone becomes devoted to serving God constantly in every way that he can serve.
–Sfat Emet, R. Yehudah Leib Alter, (1847-1905, Ger, Poland).
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer
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