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15/16 July: Parshat Chukat

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 8.57 pm: goes out 10.12 pm 

HEMS is looking for new people to try out giving a dvar Torah, so I thought I would try a week or two of prompting questions to inspire thoughts — instead of giving answers.

This week’s parshat has a strange story in which the Israelites attempt to enter the land of Canaan from the east, across the Jordan River. To do this, they must travel through Edomite territory. Moses sends messengers to the people of Edom and requests the right of passage through Edomite land. The request is denied.

A second attempt is made to obtain permission; this too is strongly rejected. As a result, the Israelites change their route and turn south towards the Red Sea to skirt the land of Edom.

Moses is doing the right thing by asking permission (twice!) but he doesn’t get the go ahead, and he has to alter his route. Why would the Torah include this story — if you were writing the dvar, what lesson would you draw from this episode ?

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

July 13, 2016