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Length: 48 minutes
Parah Adumah is the quintessential chok, a law which is impossible for us to understand. It is atonement for the chet ha’egel-the mother cow is coming to ‘clean up’ the mess of her child. This is the opposite of Kibbud Av V’em, a mitzvah that is easily understood, and one in which the child is doing for the parents. For the nations of the world, it is very easy to honor one’s parent, as the honor of Hashem does not come into the equation. However, as Bnei Yisroel, we must keep all mitzvos whether we understand them or not, and our ability to honor our parents can be limited because of our necessary deference to Hashem.
Length: 49 minutes
There are two places where the Torah teaches us that the death of tzaddikim atones. One is found in Parshas Chukas where the death of Miriam is discussed immediately following the laws of the Parah Adumah, which purifies the impure. The other case is the description of the death of Aharon Hakohein’s sons, which precedes the laws of Yom Kippur. Each of these tzaddikim taught us different ways to connect with Hashem throughout their lives. The life that Miriam led, and the be’er (well) that she endowed, is symbolic of the bond between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael that is quiet, simple, and yet incredibly powerful.
Length: 45 minutes
Moshe was instructed to take the stick when he went to speak to the rock, but was not supposed to use it to hit. This stick had functioned as a snake, and also as a tree-representing the opposite forces of life and death. The aron, ketores, and the stick of Moshe all have these dual properties-they can sustain, and they can bring death. We need to recognize that Hashem wants to do only good for us, instead of dwelling on the negative possibilities.
Length: 55 minutes
In the 4th aliyah of Parshas Chukas, Moshe send messengers to the king of Edom, asking permission for Bnei Yisroel to pass through their land. This exchange begins with Moshe reminding Edom that we are brothers, and references the strength of Yaakov, which is in the voice of tefilah. Edom, a descendant of Esav, responds with reference to the sword of Esav, This happens right after Moshe hits the rock instead of speaking to it, which is as failure of the voice of Yaakov. We need to make sure to use our voice in tefilah, recognizing that what we have comes from Hashem, who responds to our voice.
Length: 1 hour
We are forbidden to engage Edom in war because our power of “Kol Yaakov” was weakened after Moshe hit the rock instead of speaking to it in order to bring forth water. When Klal Yisroel ignored Hashem’s involvement and did not turn to Him in tefillah, Chizkiyahu destroyed the book of medicines and ground the healing copper snake. We need to learn to destroy the mirages of our efforts bearing fruit, and reaffirm our belief in Hashem through tefillah, recognizing that it is only through His Hand that we can be healed.
Length: 1 hour 2 minutes
Parshas Chukas discusses the topic of parah adumah. The parah adumah purified those who became impure from contact with death, and yet those who were involved with the parah adumah became impure. We discuss here the meaning behind the paradox, and the significance of the irony of the contrasts. Parah adumah is the ultimate chok, and represents the importance of subordinating and connecting oneself to Hashem. Hashem is One, with total unity and no conflict.
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