Parashat Chukat חֻקַּת

By definition the word “Chukat” (“חֻקַּת”) set the Divine understanding of such Mitzvah as HaShem intended it to be, without any changes or explanations. Our Sages explain that many of our Chukot and Mitzvot are difficult to understand, but in the days of Mashiach they will be revealed to us. Our Parasha speaks of the Red Heifer (“פרה אדומה”) a red female calf that could only be used for the process of purification in the Mikdash for the Kohanim (priests) and Bnei-Yisrael. By slaughtering the Red Heifer and using its ashes for atonement, as was done for the Golden-Calf sin. Our Sages teach us that since a baby calf was used for the sin of the Golden-Calf, the Red Heifer is like the mother who came to atone for her son’s sin. The color red symbolizes the color of melted gold as it was used for the sin, and now used as measure for measure attribute. The Zohar says that these “Chukot” the Torah ordinances, came to teach us that one who is busy with Torah will be lofty. He will be considered as one who studies everyday and receives the Torah at Mount Sinai. Moshe is teaching the oral Torah to Bnei-Yisrael, and providing them with its loftiest secrets and Divine understandings. The word “Mum” (“אֵין-בָּה מוּם” – without a blemish) alludes to a specific purity and its numerical of 86, came to teach us that it is equals to HaShem’s name known as “Elohim” which is also 86. This equivalency came to shed light on this Divine Mitzvah as HaShem personally provided purification process to Bnei-Yisrael, to become holy and sanctified to Him.

The word “Aduma” (“אדומה“ – red) has a Divine message with its numerical value of 50. We learn that Moshe was “lowered” in stature due to the Golden-Calf sin, as HaShem told him “Lech Red” “לך רד” – go down since your people sinned. Even though Moshe was on Mount Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments, he was still responsible for the sin of “his people” as well. At that moment, on Mount Sinai, Moshe possessed all 50 Gates of Wisdom and essentially he was “lowered” to 49 Gates of Wisdom. We learn that from the numerical value of the word “Lech” which is of 50, but now he had only 49. Right before his passing the Torah wrote in the book of Deverarim 34:1 “and Moshe went up from the plains of Moav unto Mount Nevo” (“וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה מֵעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב, אֶל-הַר נְבוֹ”). The word “Moav” in numerical value of 49 in gematria, and Moshe was elevated to “Nevo”, which in Hebrew alludes to possessing the letter “Nun” (“נְ”) back, that its numerical value of 50, and “Bo” (“בוֹ”) meaning “within him”, speaking of Moshe gaining back all the 50 Gates of Wisdom.

The Zohar says that Moshe now understood the complex and Divine meaning of the Red Heifer and its true purpose. Our Sages say that King Solomon (who was the wisest of all men) couldn’t understand the Divine meaning of the Red Heifer. King Solomon said: “I delved and examined the entire Torah, and I found it logical.” But when he came to the section of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), he said (Kohelet 7:23): “I thought I would be wise, but it is far from me” (“כָּל-זֹה, נִסִּיתִי בַחָכְמָה; אָמַרְתִּי אֶחְכָּמָה, וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנִּי”), meaning that he didn’t truly understand the Divine meaning of the Red Heifer. There is a Divine secret within three words of this verse “אֶחְכָּמָה, וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה”. The first letters spells the word “Or” (“אור” – light). What King Solomon was teaching us that the one who truly understands the Red Heifer and its true Divine purpose (speaking of Moshe), will bring the light to Bnei-Yisrael, the Mashiach.

Moshe teaches the laws of the Red Heifer as it must be three years old female cow, in order to satisfy such atonement of the Golden-Calf sin. The Red Heifer must be unblemished and had never had a yoke (weight, harness or a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load) placed on it. The Red Heifer must not have even two black hairs or it cannot be used.

Parashat Chukat חֻקַּת

This type of Mitzvah is among the three major categories HaShem gave Bnei-Yisrael

  1. The Mitzvot of Edut (“עדות“ – testament), such as Shabbat and Holidays
  2. The Mitzvot of Mishpatim (“מישפטים“ – laws), such as “You Shall not…”
  3. The Mitzvot of Chukot (“חוקות“ – supernal commandments), such as Red Heifer and “Seeir” (total of four Chukot).

The word “Chukat” (“חֻקַּת”) stands for “Chok” (“חק”) and “Tav” (“ת”) for Torah, as HaShem made them as “must” ordinances, which also act as a covenant with HaShem regardless of its unclear understanding of such a Mitzvah in our physical world.

Since Aharon participated in the Golden-Calf sin, his son Elazer (“אלעזר”) was bestowed with this Mitzvah of purification for the entire congregation of Bnei-Yisrael. While preparing to use the Red Heifer, it must be taken out of all three camps of Bnei-Yisrael. Elazer took three items to accompany the Red Heifer process, a piece of cedar wood, hyssop (aromatic mint plant) and crimson wool. These three items came to atone for the 3,000 men who had worshipped the Golden-Calf and were killed by the tribe of Levi (who did not participate in that sin). Elazer took the Red Heifer outside of the camps in order not to embarrass Bnei-Yisrael of their sin, unlike those who sinned in front of HaShem and the rest of Bnei-Yisrael. The word Elazer means to help HaShem, “El” (“אל”) and “Azer” (“עזר”), alluding to helping HaShem with the atonement of Bnei-Yisrael.

HaShem wanted to show Bnei-Yisrael his mercy and commanded this process, outside of the camp, in order to provide a full atonement, as he had full faith in them. Elazer then slaughtered the Red Heifer and took its blood and sprinkled it seven times towered the front of the Tent of Meeting. The Red Heifer then was burnt in its entirety and its ashes along with the three items were used to be mixed with water and purify all of Bnei-Yisrael. Eliazer took third of the holy ashes to be used for the purification process. Such process was so complicated that even King Solomon, who was the wisest of all men, could not fully understand it.

The  Midrash says that King Solomon was even smarter then the angels. HaShem made human smarter then the angels because they sinned and spoke ill of the human race in the book of Beresheet saying that “Men will sin”. King Solomon, who built the first Beit-HaMikdash and wrote most of the books of Mishley, Kohelet and Shir HaShrim, could not understand this Mitzvah. Both of these terms “פָרָה אֲדֻוּמָּה” and “וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה“ have an equal numerical value of 341. In the book of Kohelet 7:23, King Solomon writes:

“כָּל-זֹה, נִסִּיתִי בַחָכְמָה; אָמַרְתִּי אֶחְכָּמָה, וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנִּי”

The Red Heifer was one of four Mitzvot called Chukot (supernal commandments) HaShem commanded Bnei-Yisrael.

Miriam was 125 years old when she passed away on tenth of Nissan in the year 2449. She was one of the seven prophetesses and she bestowed many blessings and prophecy upon Bnei-Yisrael. One of Miriam’s prophecies was about her brother Moshe, redeeming Bnei-Yisrael. The word ”Mitzarim” (“מיצרים”) also has the name of Miriam in it with the letter “Tzadik” (“צדיק “), to teach us that in her merit the Jews were saved. Miriam had a prophecy while staying guard, watching here brother at the Nile, as it says (Shemot 2:4), “she watch to see what will be done with him”. The numerical Value of the word “Deah” (“דעה” – to know) is 79, the same as Moshe’s age when he came to redeem Bnei-Yisrael out of Egypt in the first time.

In her merit, Miriam provided Bnei-Yisrael with water throughout their journeys in the desert. The name Miriam (“מירים”) contains the word “Mayim” (“מיים” – water) in it and the letter “Reish” (“ר”) stands for “Rabim” (“רבים” – many), speaking of the amount of water provided by her merit. There are several hidden words in her name alluding to miracles and more events in her life. Upon the death of Miriam the Torah writes, “and Miriam died there, and was buried there” (“וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם, וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם”). We notice that her burial location is not mentioned and immediately after that her “water-well” disappears (“וְלֹא-הָיָה מַיִם, לָעֵדָה”). Our Sages teach that since Bnei-Yisrael didn’t eulogize Miriam and accorded her the proper respect, there was no water for the congregation. It is interesting to point out that the word “Sham” (“שָׁם” – there) has a numerical value of 340, which is the same for the term “Tzoma Raba” (“צומא רבא” – devastating thirst). This comes to teach us that Bnei-Yisrael were punished with losing Miriam’s water-well due to their lack of mourning for her death and for not eulogizing her.

Upon Miriam’s death we notice that the “nation” started a “fight with Moshe”. We notice here that the Torah writes “Ha’am” and not Bnei-Yisrael. This comes to teach us that, the Erev-Rav, who were the Egyptian converts, once again caused trouble among Bnei-Yisrael. It is important to note here that Moshe took it upon himself to convert the Erev-Rav and to include them among the people of Israel, without HaShem’s permission. HaShem referred to the Erev-Rav in two terms: Amecha (“עמך “ – your people, speaking to Moshe in the Golden Calf sin) and HaAm (“עם “ – nation). But to the people of Israel he referred to Bnei-Yisrael (the sons of Israel/Yakov) and Ami (“עמי “ – my nation).

HaShem stopped the water of Miriam’s well from flowing in order to emphasize her greatness and her merit, as only thanks to her water was constantly available to Bnei-Yisrael for forty years in the desert. HaShem gave three Divine principles in order for the world to exist that correspond to Miraim, Aharon and Moshe.
  1. Miriam was the pillar of “גמילות חסדים” “Gemilut Chasadim” – She did enormous amount of good deeds and Tzedakah
  2. Aharon was the pillar of “עבודה” “Avodah” – He performed all the work related to the Mishcan and its sacrifices.
  3. Moshe was the pillar of “תורה” “Torah” –  He received the Torah and pass it on and taught Bnei-Yisrael, in order for them to survive.
Following the event with Edom HaShem ordered Moshe to lead Bnei-Yisrael from “Kadesh” into a place called “Hor HaHar” (double mountain), which our sages says was one mountain on top of another mountain. While in the desert HaShem’s “Clouds of Glory” covered the entire path of Bnei-Yisrael, protecting them. HaShem’s “Clouds of Glory” also flattened all other mountains in the desert except for three mountains:
  1. Mount Sinai – Receiving of the Torah
  2. Mount Har Nevo – Moshe’s Burial
  3. Mount Hor Hahar – Aharon’s Burial
The Midrash teaches us that these three mountains remained visible throughout the desert and HaShem’s “Clouds of Glory” did not cover them during Bnei-Yisrael travels. HaShem revealed to Moshe that “Hor HaHar” will be Aharon’s final resting place as he will be passing away soon. Moshe tried persuading Hashem not to have Aharon pass away and asked to allow him entrance to the Holy Land. HaShem did not accept his request, and Moshe then asked HaShem at least to allow Aharon to be buried in Israel.  HaShem refused that request as well. The name “Hor HaHar” means the double mountain, alluding to the two crowns Aharon received from HaShem: the crown of Torah and the crown of Kehunah (priesthood). HaShem loved Aharon so much for saving and serving Bnei-Yisrael all his life.

Aharon character traits (Midot) and qualities were so profound that he was the first and only person chosen by HaShem to hold the highest position in the land while in the Tabernacle. In Parashat Beha’alotcha (“בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ”) HaShem, with his Divine attribute of mercy commanded Moshe to have Aharon “elevate” the Menorah lights, just as he elevated Bnei-Yisrael all his life.

We notice that while Aharon took upon himself the sin of constructing the Golden-Calf, the Torah writes that he just cast the gold into the fire and the Golden-Calf was created. From such a miracle we know that HaShem had his “hand” in that creation and helped Aharon. We notice that the Torah did not write for Aharon to light the Menorah, but to elevate its candles. Aharon was 123 years old at his passing.

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