Torah portion is Chukat, Numbers 19:1 – 22:1
Summary: YHVH speaks to Moses and Aaron about the laws concerning the red heifer that will be used for ritual purity. Aaron’s son, Eleazar is to sacrifice it, burn all of it along with other red elements (cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet threads). The ashes are to be mixed with water to create a form of holy water to be used to sprinkle on anyone who has come in contact with a dead person on the third and seventh day after contact. Moses’ sister Miriam dies and there is a drought. The people assemble against Moses because of the drought and a lack of fruit (specifically figs, vines, and pomegranates). Moses and Aaron kowtow at the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of YHVH appears. YHVH tells Moses before all of the people to raise his staff towards the rock and speak to it; it will bring forth water for the people and their herds. Moses and calls the people rebels and then says, referring to himself and Aaron, "From this rock, are we to bring forth water?" Moses hits the rock twice and water gushes forth. YHVH tells Moses and Aaron that because they did not follow the instructions, it showed a lack of faith in YHVH and therefore they will not be allowed to bring the assembly into the Promised Land. Moses sends messengers to the king of Edom asking if they can traverse his country to reach Canaan, and he says no, threatening war if they do. The people traveled to Mount Hor where Aaron gives his priestly vestments to his son Eleazar and dies. The congregation mourns for 30 days. King Arad of Canaan fought against the Children of Israel who made a vow to YHVH that if He would allow them to defeat the Canaanites, they would totally destroy the Canaanite cities, which happens. As the Children of Israel are going around Edom, they complain again about lack of food and water. YHVH sends fiery snakes to destroy them and many of the people die. He also instructs Moses to make a copper image of a snake on a pole; anyone who looks at it will not die of snake bite. The Children of Israel continue their journey to Moab. The Israelites sent messengers to Sihon, the king of the Amorites, to allow them to pass through his land. Sihon prohibits their passage and declares war against them. The Israelites win and capture their cities. The Children of Israel go by way of Bashan, and Og, its king, also declares a war against them and he loses. The Children of Israel pitch their tents in the field of Moab on the right side of the Jordan River facing Jericho.