This week’s parsha is Parshat Chukat. (I got some help from chabad.org): – This week’s parsha jumps to the end of the Jews’ journey in the desert. We learn about the mitzvah of parah adumah (red cow). If a Jew becomes impure because he came close to a dead body, the ashes of the red cow, wool, cedar wood, and a branch of hyssop can purify him.
-Miriam passes away, and the well of water that the Jews had because of her dries up.
The Jews complain to Moshe that they have no water. Hashem tells Moshe to talk to
a rock and it will produce water. Instead, Moshe hits the rock, and water comes out.
Hashem tells Moshe that because he did not listen to the instructions, he will not enter Israel.
-The Jews want to continue on their way to Israel, but they would need to pass through
the land of Edom. They ask the king of Edom if he will allow them to pass, but he says no
and even threatens to kill them if they do. Therefore, the Jews must take a longer way
around the land of Edom.
-Moshe, Aharon, and Aharon’s son Eliezer go up Mount Hor. Aharon lays down and
passes away. The Jews mourn for 30 days.
-The Jews complain about the trip around the land of Edom, so Hashem sends poisonous
snakes to attack them. Hashem tells Moshe to put a snake high on a pole, and all
those who had been bitten and saw the snake on the pole are healed. The Jews sing to
Hashem to thank him for the well that helped them in the desert.
-The parsha ends saying that the Jews reach another land to pass through, but this time,
not only does the king of the land say no, he attacks them, but they win.
Why is Moshe punished so severely just for hitting the rock instead of speaking to it? Why is his
minor mistake so terrible in the eyes of Hashem?
Each person has a different level of what others expect of him. If a baby makes a mistake,
people will forgive him. But if an adult makes a mistake, it’s harder to forgive. Also, someone in
a leadership position is required to be extra careful, for others expect him to be better than the
average person. To Hashem, Moshe was expected to follow exact instructions. After all, he was
the leader of the Jewish people. Therefore, Moshe was punished this way.
A lesson for us is that if we are in a leadership position, such as class president, we have a
higher responsibility to do what’s right. We should always do the right thing and show others, too.