Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky – broadcasted directly from our studio in Ramah Berkshires! This week the double parashah Chukkat-Balak [Numbers 19:1-25:9] allows the Diaspora communities to catch up with Israel. Because the 2nd day of Shavuot was on Shabbat in the Diaspora, necessitating a special reading for the holiday while in Israel it was a normal Shabbat with a regular weekly reading, Israel has been a week ahead. This week is the first opportunity for a double portion in the book of Numbers, so we are reading Chukkat-Balak while in Israel they will be reading Balak.
Among the many topics covered in this double portion, we ended up focusing on two: chapter 19 with the ritual of the red heifer for purification after corpse contamination and chapter 20:1-13 which is the famous story of Moses and the Rock, on account of which, at least in this week’s Torah reading, Moses and Aaron lose their ability to enter the Promised Land, because of their failure to sanctify God before the people at the Rock. While there is much more to the reading than this, we find ourselves year after year unable to stop talking about this story. I hope that at least each year we have something new to say! Shabbat Shalom!!