This Week’s Torah Portion | July 10 – July 16, 2016 – 4 Tammuz – 10 Tammuz, 5776


Hukat (The Statute) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Hukat Parsha

Chukat (חוקת | Statute)

Torah: Numbers 19:1-22:1

Haftarah: Judges 11:1-33

Gospel: Matthew 21:1-17

This Week’s Torah Portion | July 10 – July 16, 2016 – 4 Tammuz – 10 Tammuz, 5776

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world.  This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.  The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

NOTE:  Below are the texts for the Parasha read in Jerusalem.  Because in the Diaspora (i.e. communities of Jews outside of Israel) an extra day is celebrated at Passover (and this year, that day came on a Sabbath), the readings read outside of Israel are now behind one week from those read here.   On August 6th, through the use of a special “double reading” covering the final chapters of the Book of Numbers, the readings both inside and outside of Israel will once again coincide.

The Parashah for this week July 10-16,2016 is called Balak:

TORAH:  Numbers 22:2—25:9

HAFTARAH:  Micah 5:7—6:8

This week’s Portion focuses upon the story of the pagan prophet Balaam  (Hebrew pronunciation: Bil’am). He was called by the Moabite king Balak to come from his homeland in the Euphrates area and curse Israel, at that time spread out on the plain just across the Jordan from Jericho.  But Israel’s God is in charge of the vocal chords of Balaam, and the intended curses pour forth as blessing. Portions of the oracles are recognized as being amongst the most magnificent examples of Hebrew poetry in the Bible, and elements of the blessings continue to awaken prophetic resonance into our own day!

*Numbers 22:8.  “And he [i.e. Balaam]said to them, ‘Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD [YHVH] speaks to me.” 

This as well as vs 18 (“YHVH my God”) might seem to suggest that Balaam was a worshipper of the LORD.  However, Joshua 13:22 describes him as a “soothsayer”—an occult occupation strongly condemned in Deuteronomy 18:9-14.  As such, it is more likely that he wished to present himself to Balak as an ‘expert’ on all gods, including YHVH the God of Israel.  It is interesting that in the Deity’s early dealings with Balaam in 22:9, 12, 20, 22 the term “God” is used, instead of “YHVH” as would likely have been the case had he truly been a follower of the LORD of Israel.   Although God speaks to Balaam, and in fact takes over his mouth to speakthrough him, it is obvious from later allusions in the New Testament (II Peter 2:15-17, Jude 11, Revelation 2:14) that this magician was divided—he “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (II Peter 2:15-17); he“ran greedily into error for profit” (Jude 11)—and, after the failure of his attempts to curse Israel by his magic arts (Numbers 24:1), he later “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children if Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Numbers 25:2; Revelation 2:14).  For such he was eventually slain (Joshua 13:22)—and believers in the Church age are warned against falling into his evil ways.

*Numbers 22:20.  “…only the word which I speak to you shall you do.”

In the Hebrew, this is not a command but rather a simple statement of fact—“This is what is going to take place”.

PLEASE PRAY:  that God’s living, creative Word be released in Israel.  It comes best through His willing servants—but He is Lord, and as such exercises sovereignty over the lips of all humankind (and even the beasts).  Pray for spiritual discernment among the Body in Israel—to recognize His Word, to discern “between the righteous and the wicked— between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18).

*Numbers 22:22.  “But Elohim was angry because he [Balaam] was going, and the messenger/angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary [Literal Hebrew: “as a satan”] against him.” 

The Hebrew word “satan” originally meant “one who is an adversary”.   In this case, the adversary was good— “The Angel of the LORD”.  In Zechariah 3:1-2, “The Satan” standing to accuse Joshua the high priest was evil.  “Against whom one stands” as adversary is the issue.  Better that the LORD’s adversaries be also ours and His angel standing with us against them, than that the Holy One Himself come to be revealed as adversary against us!

*Numbers 22:31.  “Then the LORD opened [Hebrew: revelated] Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.” 

PLEASE PRAY:  that God will open the eyes of those who are allowing themselves to be honoured as spokespersons to the Gentile church regarding Israel, albeit with impure motives—that they will see that they are playing with fire.  Pray that the eyes of the hearts of Israeli believers be opened to see into the heavenlies, where we are seated with Messiah.  Pray that we will flow with God’s heavenly armies rather than contrary to them (Ephesians 1:3,18-21; II Kings 6:16-17).

*Numbers 23:3b.  “So he went to a desolate height…” 

This is exactly the same word (only in the singular) used in Isaiah 41:8, “I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.”  What God was about to release through Balaam was a torrent of prophetic truth which would stream through the centuries, and which is still nourishing Israel today!

*Numbers 23:9.  “…Behold, a people who dwells apart, and will not be reckoned as being among the nations.

PLEASE PRAY:  that modern Israel would rise up to her place of calling—that God would wean us away from the habitual longing to be “like other nations.”  Pray that the believing Body of Messiah in the Nations will release Israel to “be set apart” to what God has called her to be.

*Numbers 23:21.  “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.  The LORD his God is with him, and the shout[or royal shofar blastof a King is among them.”  

PLEASE PRAY:  “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done—in Israel—as it is in Heaven!”

*Numbers 24:7, 20.  “His [i.e. Jacob’s] King shall be higher than Agag, and His kingdom shall be exalted…Amalek was first among the nations, but shall be last until he perishes.” 

As we have mentioned during our traversals of Exodus 17:8-16 and Deut 25:17-19,  Amalek signifies a covenant-hating spirit which has historically manifested in seeking to destroy God’s covenant-people Israel; this spirit is at the heart of all anti-Semitism.  Agag was an Amalekite king (I Samuel 15:8) and Haman, the “Enemy of the Jews” (who sought to exterminate them out of the Persian Empire) was a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1, 10).  God’s covenants with Israel are covenants of Life, through which flows blessing for all humankind made in His image.  Therefore, He has sworn war with Amelek from generation to generation until He has utterly blotted out his memory from under Heaven (Exodus 17:14-15).  “His King”—(His Son, Psalm 2:6-7) “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).

 

*Numbers 23:23.  “For there is no sorcery [In Hebrew, the word used here for “sorcery” and that used for “serpent” are identical] against Jacob and no magic against Israel.  It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’”

*Micah 5:12.  “I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no soothsayers.  Your carved images I will also cut off, and your obelisks from your midst;  You shall no more worship the work of your hands.

Both this passage from the Torah and that from the Haftarah are very pertinent for us in Israel today.  The enemy knows that his time is short—and he has sown sorcery throughout the land.  In secular schools, children are often taught the horoscope and New Age in the early grades (we have seen the homework papers ourselves). Much of ultra-Orthodox Judaism is permeated with the occult.  Often Israelis flocking to Asia (particularly India and Thailand) after military service, bring back Eastern mysticism to fill the void within.  And there are New Age festivals several times a year which attract thousands. 

Please Pray:  that the works of the serpent will be exposed and cut off in Israel.  Pray for release of signs and wonders and deliverance from demons in the Name of Yeshua through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Pray that curses made against this Land and people from outside will hit a wall and fall to the ground.

Pray for God to raise up leaders like Josiah who will work with holy Zeal and Jealousy for the cleansing of our land.

*Micah 6:8:  “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the YHVH require of you but to do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  

PLEASE PRAY this verse over Israel—God “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble,” and He longs to “walk” with her again!

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week (July 17-23, 2016) are called  Pinchas—“Phinehas”:

TORAH:  Numbers 25:10—29:40

HAFTARAH: I Kings 18:46—19:21

In A Nutshell

The portion, Hukat (The Statute), deals with Israel’s continuing journey, with the Mitzva (commandment) of the red cow (heifer), the laws of the impurity of the dead, and the episode known as Mei Meriva (waters of Meribah [Heb: quarrelling]). In the episode, the children of Israel complain about the lack of water, and the Creator commands Moses to speak to the rock. However, instead of speaking, he strikes the rock. Moses and Aaron are punished for this act by being banned from entering the land of Israel. The people of Israel reach the land of Edom, and the king of Edom forbids them to pass through his territory.

Aaron dies, and Elazar, his son, succeeds him as the high priest. The people of Israel continue to complain about the difficulties along the way, and the Creator sends snakes to bite the people. Moses makes a copper snake and shows it to the people, and anyone who sees the copper snake is healed.

The people of Israel reach the boundary of the land of Moab and sing “the song of the well.” The people fight Sihon, King of the Amorites, and Og, King of the Bashan. Israel wins and inherits their land.

Commentary

This story details the primary correction in the corrections of the souls. Because our souls are initially the desire to receive, to enjoy, in order to correct it we must invert the intention of that desire toward bestowal. We must correct our souls to have the aim to bestow, to love others, by which will resemble the Creator. This will endow Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator—which is the purpose of creation—to each and everyone in the nation. This is why we need to mingle and become integrated with the force of bestowal, called Bina, and with the force of reception, called Malchut.

Connecting the two forces—the two Sefirot just mentioned—results in four options: Malchut in Malchut, Malchut in Bina, Bina in Bina, and Bina in Malchut. When Bina is inside Malchut, it is the evil force because Malchut governs Bina, and when that happens, all the evil forces emerge.

While these forces may occasionally appear as good, they appear so only to lure and entice a person, leading toward the evil. It is a special Klipa (shell/peel), cunning and shrewd, which is in Malchut. This is how Malchut acquires Bina and uses it. This is also why it was said that evil can exist in the world only if it initially appears as good.

At first, the only forces that exist in man are the still, vegetative, and animate, meaning Malchut at the degree of still, vegetative, and animate. This is a straightforward will to receive. A person who possesses the power of Bina within the will to receive becomes very clever and very shrewd. Such a person knows how to appear as giving to others, as serving them, while in fact that person takes from others and uses them as much as possible. This is how the negative forces operate when the force of bestowal is “taken captive” by the force of reception.

Conversely, when we raise Malchut to Bina and become included in it—when we want to permeate Bina and be there as servants, as an embryo inside its mother’s womb—Bina is called “upper Ima (mother).” At that time we want to develop only by integration, by being dominated by the power of bestowal, under the “protection” of the power of the Creator. These are the good forces, which gradually take bits of the egoistic desire and correct them.

The portion, Hukat, begins with the red cow, which corrects some of the desires and corrupts others. It is that pendulum between Bina and Malchut that purifies the impure and defiles the pure. That topic is scrutinized all through the portion on different levels, such as the ashes of the cow, the well, and the pit.

The pit is dry, absorbing everything but remaining completely empty. On the other hand, a well is full of water. This compares to Bina in Malchut and Malchut in Bina. If the well is empty, it is Malchut. If there is water in the well, it is the right kind of integration. And when Malchut ascends to Bina, Malchut’s deficiency rises to Bina, to heaven, and brings down water from heaven, which is the rain.

Afterwards the serpent is mentioned. The serpent isn’t just the will to receive; it is a person in whom there is integration of Bina, opposite which there is the copper serpent.

In the story of the waters of quarrelling (Meribah), there is the rock, the ground. If a person is integrated in Malchut, and speaks with it at the level of the desert (the level of Bina), that person elicits water out of it. Conversely, one who strikes elicits waters of quarrelling. This water is called “waters of Gevurot,” which is dominated by Malchut. Hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis share the same root as the forces dominated by Malchut.

As for the red cow, the text does not relate to any corporeal cow whatsoever. The word Adumah (“red,” in the feminine) comes from the word Edom, meaning connected to the Adamah (earth). The cow symbolizes the power of Bina, giving milk, which is one of the symbols of the festival of Shavuot, on which we eat dairy products. It is a symbol of the power of giving.

However, when connected to Malchut, Edom, she has the powers of the mingling with Malchut opposite the power of Bina. When the force of bestowal and the force of reception—Bina and Malchut—are together, everything depends on the individual. If a person wishes to be corrected, to achieve bestowal, then specifically by combining these forces, a combination known as the “red cow,” a person elicits the force of bestowal and becomes purified.

Conversely, if that person was pure, the mingling of Bina and Malchut has the opposite effect. We need to understand that this opposite form is only a person’s discovery that he or she is on a good degree. That is, a person discovers an additional desire, with which one cannot work.

The Meaning of the Acts of Purification

These are rituals, a sort of idol-worship. It is not that simple to find a red cow, burn it, and then deal with the whole business with its ashes. It doesn’t exist in our world, but we are still looking.

It is said that in the past there was indeed a red cow, at the time of the Temple, when the whole nation was on a spiritual degree using the wisdom of Kabbalah. It is written, “They checked from Dan to Beer Sheba and no ignoramus [uncorrected person] was found from Gevat to Antipris, and no boy or girl, man or woman was found who was not thoroughly versed in the laws of purity and impurity [corrections according to Moses’ law].”[1] That is, the laws of impurity and purity (Tuma’a and Taharah, respectively) explain precisely what it means to work in order to receive and what it means to work in order to bestow with all the desires, all the problems, and all the communications with everyone and with Godliness.

In the past, the majority of people achieved complete attainment, except for a few, as we know from history about the quarrels that took place even at the time of the First Temple. The people who attained a spiritual degree knew the laws of impurity and a purity; they were at the level of connection of Bina and Malchut, a level known as “red cow (heifer).”

The Torah details an order of correction, instructions on how to correct the soul. These people lived by it and corrected themselves from the state of “Egypt” to the state of “reception of the Torah,” going through the “desert” and into the “land of Israel,” names that represent spiritual degrees.

Why Israel Could NotPass Through Edom, Even though It Is Bina

The red cow is Bina. The land of Edom is the connection between Bina and Malchut as it should be according to the degrees. The king of Edom is a desire that sits within us. Even though the people of Israel wish to go through the land of Edom, they must first enter through the Klipa (shell/peel) that is in Edom—the king of Edom. They must go through the mingling of Malchut and Bina on the degree of Edom. That Klipa does not let them through. The passage depends on correction—either they go around Edom or they fight and go through it.

Moses, the greatest of the prophets, leads the nation. He is man’s most sublime quality, and it seems as though he is not doing what the Creator told him.

In fact, it is not that he is disobeys the Creator. Rather, there is the nation, meaning individual desires, there is Moses, and there is a possibility to absorb “waters of Bina” by raising Malchut (the will to receive) to Bina. In the state of the people at the time, Moses could not muster the strength to rise and draw all of his desires that are called “people” or “nation” to the level of Bina. Thus, instead of climbing a degree and speaking and acting there, he acts on the degree of performing actions. This was his transgression.

Why Does It Seem as Though He Was Punished?

All the punishments in the Torah are corrections. Although it is clear that one must attain the level of speaking—a level of connection between Malchut and Bina that is simpler, shorter, and more correct—a person cannot find another manner of correction, but performs it in actual fact. It is similar to Moses using his staff.

Is it like an experiment, where we are given the tools to carry out a task, yet we must fail.

Indeed we have to fail. Although it seems as though we are punished in our corrections, in truth, there are no punishments.

But when Moses wished to enter the land of Israel he was refused.

Of course he was refused. The land of Israel is not the degree of Moses. Moses is “the faithful shepherd,” whose highest degree is Bina. There needs to be an upgrade here, which must be performed by his followers, those who are not from the generation of the desert, such as Joshua.

They Journeyed from Mountain to Mountain

“And Israel journeyed … and they went after the slant-serpent that was ruling in the land of Edom.”

Zohar for All, New Zohar, Hukat (The Statute), item 3

“Slant” means that it keeps twisting and walking ahead of a person so it is impossible to discern what is good about it and what is bad.

They seemingly “detoured” the mountain. In truth, they could not climb the mountain—the thoughts along the way, the doubts in the faith, in the attainment of mutual bestowal and unity. And because they were unable to attain, they “went around” that situation. On the one hand it is not the right way, but on the other hand, if they do not circumvent the mountain, they cannot go above it. For now, this is the way—by the hardening of the heart. The correction is always done on an egoistic desire that is very hard to cope with, but after which one obtains abundance.

They Journeyed from Mountain to Mountain

“They complained about everything—about the oral Torah, the written Torah … for there is no bread, oral Torah, and no water, written Torah, and the words of the oral Torah were trivial in their eyes.”

Zohar for All, New Zohar, Hukat (The Statute), item 3

“Trivial” means that the oral Torah was not very important. This was the problem, since the oral Torah comes to us from above, from the degree of Zeir Anpin, while the written Torah is in Malchut. This creates a disconnect between Zeir Anpin and Bina for reception, to receive the quality of bestowal. Also, it is clear that they did not have the strength, and therefore went around Mount Horeb.

Concerning the serpents, we know the story of the serpent and Adam, and the story from The Book of Zohar about the snake that bites the doe and retreats. However, the portion before us presents another aspect: a copper serpent that heals anyone who sees it.

We cure the flaws in us, our egos, according to the way we connect to the serpent, by how we look at it and take from it the strength we want. It is the will to receive that we can extract for our Kelim (vessels), and the desire to bestow for our intentions, by which we are corrected.

Our advancement is according to our egos, through forms of serpents—a slant serpent or a copper serpent—turning all those desires that currently hide within us and are initially cruel and cunning, in order to receive—from Adam’s first serpent—into desires with the aim to bestow.

As then so now, there is nothing worse than the snake, the venom, the destructive force. We must turn the power of the serpent into a healing force, just as in the symbol of medicine, because the healing comes from the same place. It is all a question of approach: if one knows how to use that force correctly, it is a healing force; if one does not know how to use it correctly, it is a potion of death.

The Serpent as a Messenger of the Creator

The serpent is our will to receive, which comes from the Creator. The Torah, which is called “the potion of life,” as well as “the potion of death,” also comes from the Creator. In our means, in our desire, intentions, in every thing and in every detail there is good, as well as bad, and we can use them for better or for worse.

It is written that everyone loved Aaron, even more than they loved Moses. What is the quality of Aaron within us, and what does it mean that something dies?

Priests are on the degree of actions; they are the power within us that performs the corrections de facto. Moses is the only force that connects to the upper one, to the next degree, to Godliness, while Aaron prepares the actions and carries them out. This is why his whole work is the Temple.

What about his son, who was appointed after him, is it hereditary?

These are two degrees, just as in our world there is a custom that the father inherits everything to the son. It is likewise in kingship, and even in biology, in genes.

It seems as though the story repeats itself—there is a will to receive that needs correction. It needs to receive light and turn from reception to bestowal. Why then are there all those subtle differences, as though each portion is a different story altogether?

Indeed the only thing that was created is the will to receive. That desire is used egoistically, and the Torah depicts its process of correction. The will to receive contains 613 “sub-desires,” all of which must be shifted from being used egoistically into being used altruistically—for the sake of others, to love of others. This is called “observing 613 Mitzvot (commandments).” The whole Torah consists of instructions by which to receive light in these corrected desires, a light called “Torah,” or “the revelation of Godliness.”

Therefore, these are not subtle differences, but consecutive degrees, appearing one at a time in a manner of cause and consequence. At each stage we correct all 613 desires from “In the beginning” to “In the eyes of all Israel,” the final words in the Pentateuch. Only when we achieve it do we actually become Israel—Yashar El (straight to God).

[1] [1] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Sanhedrin, p 94b.