This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

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This week we study Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19:1-22:1).

* The ritual of the red heifer makes sense to me. The red is for blood. The ritual makes the pure impure and the impure pure kinda like garbagemen and policemen and military. Only contact with dead people is impure (Num. 19:11). Not contact with dead animals. We recoil from dead animals. We recoil from death. As we should.

* Moshe was never getting into the promised land. We all wander in the desert hoping to get into the promised land.

* Moshe’s sin wasn’t hitting the rock. God told Moshe to take his rod. Moshe’s sin was saying to the Jews, “Shall we bring forth water from the rock?”

Exodus 17 has an identical story where Moshe hits the rock.

* Moshe gets in trouble because of something he does in public. I don’t know of any examples of God punishing anyone for doubting.

* As you go through the Tanach, there are increasingly few miracles. In the later books such as Ezra and Nehemiah, there are no miracles.

* Moshe does not argue with God after he’s told he won’t get in. Moshe frequently argued with God but not here. Moshe does not resign as leader. He keeps leading the Jews.

* It bothers the rabbis of the Talmud that Moshe does not get in. There are classic midrashim on this. It is Jewish to get annoyed with God and for God to get annoyed with the Jews.

* Jews are not to conquer Canaan to take booty and to rape. No, you are to take Canaan to create a holy land that will be a light to the world.

* Num. 20:13 Israelites quarrel with Moses, but they’re really arguing with God. Sometimes when people quarrel with the rabbis, they’re really arguing with God.

* If a man tells you he’s Elijah the Prophet and he’s been sent from Heaven to make a Moshiach baby with you, employ some skepticism before you give it up to him.

* Girls may think some girls look good in short hair but I don’t. Nothing sexy about short hair on a woman. It’s just plain dykey. I hate it. I also hate pantsuits. Butch!

* Have you tried these “Slut Walk” parades for meeting young, free thinking ladies?

* Richard posts to my FB: I ran into a few Jewish girls, in my day, rebelling against their secular Jewish background. Most of them, would sleep with any guy, that had a beard, and looked somewhat orthodox.

* I want to discuss this new book on the synagogue in America.

* It’s a hot day today in Los Angeles and yet you won’t find many traditional Orthodox Jews walking around in shorts. Why not? What’s wrong with wearing shorts? Particularly if you’ve got the legs to pull them off. Traditional Orthodox Jewish men tend to wear black suits and white shirts, even on the hottest of days.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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