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Home Shabbat Parashat Hashavua Portion Chukat - Teaching the World about Death - or LIFE

Portion Chukat - Teaching the World about Death - or LIFE

Portion Chukat - Teaching the World about Death - or LIFE

One of my Staten Island friends recently became a bit upset. He met a convert to Judaism who claimed that the Torah is not an important part of Judaism.

So what did that person mean? I had met the same person. They had "converted"  to marry a Jew, but really knew almost nothing at all about our "3300" or so years of our people's connection to the Almighty, or even our Jewish history or heritage.

One Orthodox Rabbi in his yeshiva class said years ago "that to learn (and to teach) how to do the Many Mitzvas Today you sometimes have to learn "where to cut corners". But with ANY LIVING THING you can't cut out the heart! Thousands of years of Torah Learning is what kept our people and keeps our people united (even if there have been many arguments in our history). 

Matza balls and bagels in Jewish culture is not Judaism and don't make for survival (Sephardic Jews don't usually even eat those). Jewish "culture" can be ALL the fun or traditional folkways that Ashkenazi and Sephardi people adapted wherever they lived – but "man (and woman) does not survive (for long) on bagels alone". Even this week's Portion Chukat as well as the previous weeks, mention Israelites in the desert complaining - EVEN about the "MANNA from Heaven"(better tasting than most bagels)  that they subsisted on (without having to work for it) for 40 years.

This Portion – Chukat – states Zot Chukat (Choke is some TYPE of LAW) Hatora.THIS IS TORAH! What do we mean?

Most sages have interpreted that as "rules too mystical to understand". But in his own amazing way, the Maharal of Prague – that great mystical commentator on the Torah says  a most UN-mystical thing:

He interprets "Choke" as not an UnKnowable rule – claiming as opposed to Maimonides and others - That Everything is Knowable. TORAH Din – judgment as opposed to Choke – Rule depend on how you LEARN it. You have to LEARN the Torah to Appreciate its Greatness..

The portion can be looked at as "Din" or "Choke" – even with its strange practice of the Red Heifer Ashes and the Practice of Purity surrounding the Holy Tabernacle in the desert – and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – and THE WHOLE WORLD. WHY?.  

According to the Maharal in Judaism WE LIVE AND LEARN (and are supposed to TEACH) "Din=Justice" – through – and along with the centrality of the Tabernacle/Temple rituals..

The Red Heifer rules in the portion are followed by the Israelite Rituals Related to Death – "Adam key yamut ...kol nogay ba etzem"

And today we still have a custom WHICH WE SHULD FOLLOW – after  Funerals - the hand washing   and   "tum ah" ritual - in memory of Temple Times.

What does that mean for THE WORLD TODAY?

Death and Temple must be separated – because each has a different sanctity. THAT IS OUR TORAH TEACHING from the first Aliyah in this week's portion (in Israel).Holiness practice is our Objective Heritage even today.

 However today in the US people burn cultural symbols – and then attack synagogues that have never had anything to do with racial discrimination! As The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported, just about a week ago a fountain dedicated to the memory of holocaust victims was destroyed in a local memorial park.

That is not an attack on bagels – that is an attack on Sanctity and Humanity – of the Torah and of all people of good faith.

Don't forget those medical front liners – but WE JEWS ARE ALL SPIRITUAL FRONT LINERS! Heal the Hatred!

A kind word AND SOME TORAH - pack a powerful spiritual TORAH healing greater than bagels and matza balls!


Shabat Shalom


Rabbi Andy Eichenholz


לכבוד שבת קודש


בבקשה להתפלל לרפואת: הרב שמריהו יוסף חיים בן פעשא מרים, יגאל שלמה בן שושנה מהין ובני משפחתו, בבקשה להתפלל לזרע בר קיימא בקרוב לנופית הודיה בת רחל ודויד שלמה בן שושנה ולזרע בר קימא בקרוב למירב המזל בת גאולה ונועם בן לאה וחזרה בתשובה לעידן בן שולמית ושי שלומי בן שולמית ודינה תרצה בת ורדה רגינה ולבשורות טובות ישועות ונחמות לכל עם ישראל

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