This Week’s Torah Portion | June 25 – July 01, 2017 – 1 Tammuz – 7 Tammuz, 5777


Hukat (The Statute) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

TORAH : NUMBERS 19:1-22:1

PROPHETS : JUDGES 11:1-33

GOSPEL : MATTHEW 21:1-17

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.
The Parashah for this week June 25—July 1, 2017 is called Chukat—“Ordinance Of…”

 TORAH: Numbers 19:1—22:1

 HAFTARAH: Judges 11:1-33

40 YEARS IN THE DESERT

Because of the dead who would be constantly in Israel’s midst as an entire generation passed away, Chapter 19 deals with a special ‘decontamination’ procedure with which to cleanse away the defilement released into the camp by death. Then 38 years pass silently by—there is very little that the Holy Spirit chose to pass on to us regarding that rebellious generation “with whom He was angry for 40 years, whose corpses fell in the desert” (Hebrews 3:17). With the death of Miriam at the beginning of Chapter 20, those years are already drawing near to their close. In this week’s reading Moses and Aaron themselves enter into a rebellion which will bar them from entering the Land, and, after the passing of his mantle to his son Eleazar, Aaron dies on Mount Hor. Shortly thereafter a further remnant from the “complaining generation” are slain by serpents—but the younger, second generation begins to move into warfare and to prevail against those giants still barring the pathway towards their inheritance.

*Numbers 19: Ordinance of the Red Heifer. With the death of those offering incense in Korah’s rebellion, the 14,700 who died by plague in the uprising shortly thereafter, and the prospect of hundreds of thousands more passing away in the desert wanderings ahead, the stigma and defilement of Death hung over the camp continuously. There was need for an especial cleansing for those who came in contact with one who had died. “The wages of sin is death.” In Hebrew the very word for “purification” or “decontamination” (vs. 12) bears within itself the word for sin chet. A red cow (there is actually nothing in the Hebrew to denote “heifer” or young female), perfect and never yoked, was burned in totality outside the camp, with cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet fed into the burning. Then the ashes were stored, also outside the camp. When needed, these were to be mixed with “living water” (vs17, Hebrew: mayim haim) and used as a decontaminant (literally, “water kept apart to expel, serving as a sin offering”, vs 9b) for those who had come into contact with death.

PLEASE PRAY: from Hebrews 9:13-14, a letter in the New Covenant written specifically to Messianic Jews of the First century: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?”.

*Numbers 20:10, 24: MOSES: “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” YHVH: “…because you both (i.e. Moses and Aaron) rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.”

A great leader of courage, compassion and humility, Moses nevertheless appears to have had a ‘blind spot’ regarding anger. One sees it quietly mentioned or alluded to in the Scriptures throughout his life (Exodus 2:12, 11:8, 32:19, Lev 10:16, Numbers 11:10, 16:15). Titus 1:7 speaks of the necessity that God’s stewards be “not quick-tempered”. Although there is a place for anger, if it is released “in the flesh” or outside of God’s timing, it will “not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19). In the end, it betrayed Moses into the very rebellion against God’s command which he accused the people of when he shouted at them (20:10) rather than speaking to the Rock.

PLEASE PRAY: For leaders in the Body of Messiah in Israel to be trained by the Holy Spirit in self-control. Pray that we will deal with personal issues which the Holy Spirit discloses, which might otherwise cause us, in critical moments of decision under pressure, to operate out of our emotions or woundings rather than in the integrity of the Spirit.

*Numbers 21:9 (Alter): “And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a standard, and so then, if the serpent bit a man, he looked on the serpent of bronze and lived.” The word ness here translated “standard” or “flag pole” happens also to have evolved into a modern Hebrew word for “miracle.”

o John 3:14-15: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

II Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

*Numbers 21:34-35: “Do not fear him (i.e. Og, King of Bashan), for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land. So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.”   

Deuteronomy 3:11: “For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants.” 

As Israel arrives 38 years later at the border of Canaan, only one of the fabled “giants” which had terrified their fathers remains. God gives them exactly the same directive he’d given their fathers; this time they take Him at His word and destroy the giant. The significance of defeating this “Og” was huge—he will be mentioned many times in Deuteronomy, Joshua, I Kings, Nehemiah and the Psalms.

The territory which this text says God Himself “delivered into Israel’s hand” would eventually became part of the territory allotted to the tribe of Manasseh. It is this same area, today known as the “Golan Heights,” which modern Israel took from Syria in the 1967 War. The territory southward to the Arnon River was taken from King Sihon of the Amorites and eventually became territory of the tribes Reuben and Gad. This area is presently occupied by the north-western part of the Kingdom of Jordan.

PLEASE PRAY: That the “different spirit” of Caleb and Joshua which motivated this younger generation of Israelites would awaken again in Israel—that we would come to trust God for defeat of the many giants which have arisen again in the land to which we have returned.

 *Judges 11:23-24: “And now YHVH Elohei-Yisrael (Yehovah, the Israel God) has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the YHVH our God takes possession of before us, we will possess!” 

Jephthah (Hebrew pronunciation: Yiphtakh) has come today to be often dismissed due to of an unfortunate vow he made regarding his daughter. This is regrettable, and has not always been the case. The Bible remembers Jephthah as a heroic warrior (gibor-hayil) who, although born of a harlot, despised and dispossessed by the rest of his family, rose nevertheless to command the respect of both friends and enemies. He was a leader who trusted in the LORD for victory (vs 9); a wise judge who made his agreements and pacts in the Presence of the LORD (vs 12). As with any skilled military strategist, he was intimately acquainted with the history of his land (vss. 14-29), acknowledging the LORD’s hand in that history, and bringing it to bear in reasoning with his enemies so as to avoid if possible conflict if. For Jephthah, judgment rested with the LORD. So highly respected was this man before both God and man, that he is included in the chapter of Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11.

PLEASE PRAY: For warriors like Jephthah to be raised up in Israel in the Last Days. Pray for God’s oversight of those from broken families (there are so many), or no families at all-that seeds of grace and faith will be sown which will catch and germinate in fertile soil! 

Pray for God’s Kingdom to come in Gilead, that section of land in which the action of this chapter took place and which today is a part of the western territory of the Kingdom of Jordan. It was from this land that the Prophet Elijah “who is coming first and will restore all things” (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:11) came forth-and to which he returned before being taken up into Heaven. Under the power of the Spirit of God, the prophet Zechariah foretold a day (Zech. 10:10) in which Gilead would be among the areas to which Jews from the houses of Judah and Joseph would be eventually returned. This has yet to be fulfilled.

The Parashah for next week July 2-8,2017 is called Balak: 

TORAH: Numbers 22:2—25:9

HAFTARAH: Micah 5:7—6:8

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 target,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.