Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message

Shabbat Shalom!


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Torah and Haftarah portions.


Candlelighting for
Friday, June 22, 2018 • 7:15pm

• Our Portion for the Week

NUMBERS 19:1 – 22:1

In this portion we cover the 38 years of the wilderness wandering. The reading opens with instructions for the most peculiar ritual in the Torah – the slaughtered red cow whose ashes, mixed with water, are used to purify anyone who comes in contact with a corpse. In the purification process, people who are already pure and touch the mixture become impure and must themselves undergo a different process of purification. The reading skips over most of the events of the wilderness wandering without comment and continues in the land of Moab. The people again complain of lack of water, and God tells Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock and produce water. Moses, however, strikes the rock with his staff. Water comes forth, but God declares that this action shows lack of faith and neither Moses nor Aaron will be permitted to enter the Promised Land. The Israelites wage several battles and win, thus demonstrating that the new generation is ready to attempt the conquest of the land. However, the problems of obedience to God and understanding the responsibilities of leadership have still not been completely resolved.

• Our Question for the Week •

1) Our Parasha opens with a long and detailed explanation of the laws of the red heifer. Who (more than one person) is in charge of the preparation of the red heifer (19:2-6)? What happens to the status of the Kohen(s) involved in the preparation (vv.7-10)? What are the ashes of the red heifer used for (19:11-13,19-22)?

2) What event is told in 20:1? Why do you think that the Torah decided to tell us about this event? What stories do you remember about this person (Ex.2:1-10 she is the sister, 15:20, Num 12)? What can you learn about her from these stories?

3) The people complain about the lack of water (20:2-6). Is this a legitimate complaint? Why? Reading on through v. 11, does God seem to agree with your answer? How do you know?

4) How are Moshe and Aaron told to solve the problem (20:7-13)? What do they do? God seems upset with their action, what do you think that God is upset about? What is the consequence of this event?

5) The people of Israel would like to cross the land of Edom to enter the land of Israel (20:14-21). How does Moshe try to achieve this? What arguments does he present? Why does he present Israel as Edom's brother (Gen. 25:21-30 might help)? Look at how Moshe promises that they will behave if allowed to cross through Edom – what can this teach us about Edom's fear of the situation?