June 26, 2019 ~ Shabbat SHELAH. Maqam HIJAZ.

Shabbat Huqat - שבת חקת

A Red Heifer

ויקחו אליך פרה אדומה תמימה - On the farms of Herbert Celler near Lakewood, NJ, a Red Heifer was born in April 2013. This means that the purification ashes required to perform Temple services would finally be available for the first time in two millennia. Historically, only 9 other Red Cows supposedly met the strict criteria needed to qualify as "Temima" (translated as "perfect" or "flawless"). Many rabbis traveled to this farm to see the Red Cow and were truly amazed. Hopes faded, however, on July 1, 2015, when the cow surprisingly gave birth to a black calf. According to the Maimonides' Mishne Torah, the act of impregnation is considered a form of work, thereby disqualifying this cow from services. It was not meant to be. Although it is frustrating to lose this opportunity to fulfill this important Hoq (statute), it is reassuring to know that the Jewish people are constantly on the lookout to fulfill this difficult commandment. Beth Torah Bulletin, July 1, 2017.


כה אמר אחיך ישראל - The closest route to the Land of Canaan from Qadesh, the location where Israel camped, is through Edom, the nation consisting of Esav's descendants. In a reasonable request to Edom's king, Moses, in Numbers 20:14, uses the term "brother" (אחיך ישראל) to describe their relationship. Edom's cold negative response (לא תעבר) accompanied by their army, surprises the Israelites despite the guarantees that only the main road would be used (דרך המלך נלך). Feeling hurt and rejected, Israel quietly turns away (ויט ישראל מעליו), moves on, and ultimately uses another path to reach their destination. Yet, in his final discourse, Moses teaches "do not abhor the Edomite, for he is your brother" (Deuteronomy 23:8). Although at times they do not act like our brothers, Moses implores the Israelites to acknowledge their status as family and take the high road in all interactions with them. This is because it is always important to preserve your family. Beth Torah Bulletin, June 23, 2018.