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Parshat Chukat                                                          July 13, 2019  10 Tammuz, 5779
                                                  Rabbi Sacks on Parshat Chukat
              ARTSCROLL  838           It is a scene that still has  of contending with them and   stone me!” God told him to
                  HERTZ   652          the power to shock and   with God. But as builders of a   go to a rock at Horeb, take
                                       disturb. The people
                                                               new society, they needed a   his staff, and hit the rock.
                  HAFTORAH             complain. There is no   leader who would not do the   Moses did so, and water
             ARTSCROLL  1187           water. It is an old     work for them but who would   came out. There was
                                                                                           drama, tension, but nothing
                                       complaint and a
                                                               instead inspire them to do it
                  HERTZ  664           predictable one. That is   for themselves.          like the emotional distress
                                       what happens in a                                   evident in this week’s
                     Times             desert. Moses should    The face of Moses was like the   parsha of Chukat. Surely
                                       have been able to handle   sun, the face of Joshua was   Moses, by now almost forty
                                       it with ease. He has been   like the moon (Bava Batra   years older, with a
           Mincha               7:00 pm   through far tougher   75a). The difference is that   generation of experience
                                       challenges in his time.   sunlight is so strong it leaves   behind him, should have
           Candle Lighting      8:08 pm   Yet suddenly at Mei   no work for a candle to do,   coped with this challenge
                                       Meriva (“the waters of   whereas a candle can       without drama. He had been
           Hashkama             8:00 am   contention”), he exploded   illuminate when the only other   there before.
                                       into vituperative anger:   source of light is the moon.
           Parsha Shiur         8:30 am   “‘Listen, you rebels, shall   Joshua empowered his   The text gives us a clue, but
                                                                                           in so understated a way
                                                               generation more than a figure
                                       we bring you water out of
           Main                 9:00 am   this rock?’ Moses raised   as strong as Moses would have  that we can easily miss it.
                                                                                           The chapter begins thus:
                                       his hand and struck the   done. But there is another   “In the first month, the
           Beit Midrash         9:15 am   rock twice with his   question altogether about the   whole Israelite community
                                                               episode we read of this week.
                                       staff” (Num. 20:10–11).   What made this trial different?  arrived at the desert of Zin,
           Gemara Shiur         7:00 pm   In past essays I have   Why did Moses momentarily   and they stayed at Kadesh.
                                       argued that Moses did
                                       not sin. It was simply   lose control? Why then? Why   There Miriam died and was
           Mincha               8:00 pm                        there? He had faced just this   buried. Now there was no
                                       that he was the right
                                       leader for the generation   challenge before. The Torah   water for the
           Shabbat Ends         9:16 pm                        mentions two previous       community…” (Num. 20:1–
                                       that left Egypt but not
                                       the right leader for their   episodes. One took place at   2). Many commentators see
           Sun. July 14      7:30/8:30 am   children who would cross   Mara, almost immediately after  the connection between this
                                       the Jordan and engage in   the division of the Red Sea.   and what follows in terms of
           Mon. & Thurs.     6:35/7:45 am   conquering a land and   The people found water but it   the sudden loss of water
           Tues., Wed. & Fri.                 6:45/7:45 am   building a society. The   was bitter. Moses prayed to   after the death of Miriam.
                                                                                           Tradition tells of a
                                                               God, God told him how to
           Mincha               8:05 pm   fact that he was not   sweeten the water, and the   miraculous well that
                                       permitted to lead the   episode passed. The second   accompanied the Israelites
                   Latest Times for    next generation was not   episode occurred at Rephidim   during Miriam’s lifetime in
                Shema/Shemoneh Esrei   a failure but an        (Ex. 17:1–7). This time there   her merit. When she died,
                                       inevitability. As a group
                                       of slaves facing freedom,   was no water at all. Moses   the water ceased. There is,
           July 13          9:17/10:31 am   a new relationship with   rebuked the people: “Why are   though, another way of
                                       God, and a difficult    you quarrelling with me? Are   reading the connection.
           July 20          9:20/10:34 am   journey, both physically   you trying to test God?” He   Moses lost control because
                                       and spiritually, the    then turned to God and said,   his sister Miriam had just
                    Next Shabbat                                             “What am I to do with this   died. He was in mourning
                                       Children of Israel needed
                       Balak           a strong leader capable   people? Before long they will   for his eldest sibling. It is

           Mincha               7:00 pm                                Kiddush
                                                                   is provided by
           Candle Lighting      8:04 pm
                                                           Great Neck Synagogue
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