Parashat Khukat / פרשת חקת

Crop of The Brazen Serpent by Anthony van Dyck

Summary

Parashat Khukat is the 39th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the sixth reading of Bamidbar (“Numbers”). Khukat (חֻקַּת) is the Hebrew word for Decree or Statute and is the ninth word of the parashah, the beginning of HaShem’s instructions to Moshe (Moshe) pertaining to the statute of the ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer); a statute until the World to Come for the native born of Yisrael (Israel) and the sojourner alike.

HaShem describes in detail how a person becomes tamei (ritually impure/unclean) through contact with the dead, thereby becoming restricted from entering the Mikdash (Sanctuary) of El Chai (the Living G-d) until they are cleansed, on the penalty of being cut off from midst of the assembly. HaShem describes under what circumstances and for what period of time the status of tamei is to endure, as well as the process by which a person is restored to a state of tahore (ritual purity/cleaness).

The parashah proceeds from here with a record of the death of Miryam (Miriam), the sister of Moshe, followed immediately by a record of the events of the waters of Merivah (Meribah), where the people of Yisrael quarrel with HaShem—by quarrelling with His servant Moshe—because they have no water to drink. It is a sad turn of events, which, because of Moshe’s response, results in Moshe and Aharon (Aaron) being disqualified from bringing the people of Yisrael into the Promised Land.

After this, Parashat Chukat continues with Edom’s refusal to allow Yisrael passage through their land, followed by the record of the death of Moshe’s brother, Aharon, the Kohel Gadol (High Priest), and the inheritance of his office by his son, Elazar (Eleazer). The parashah then follows with an account of the conflict with the king of Arad, and the subsequent destruction of the Kena’ani (Canaanites).

The people of Yisrael complain again with disastrous results, yet HaShem is merciful to those who confess their sin to Moshe, asking him to intercede on their behalf. Moshe does so and HaShem provides the way for the people to be healed in a miraculous way.

The parashah concludes with a record of a series of Yisrael’s movements through the wilderness, followed by Yisrael’s defeat of Sikhon, king of the Emori (Amorites), and Og, king of the Bashan, who assembled for war against Yisrael.

Torah Portion: Numbers 19:1 – 22:1

1st Aliyah: Numbers 19:1-17 (17 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Numbers 19:18-20:6 (11 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Numbers 20:7-13 (7 verses)
4th Aliyah: Numbers 20:14-21 (8 verses)
5th Aliyah: Numbers 20:22-21:9 (17 verses)
6th Aliyah: Numbers 21:10-20 (11 verses)
7th Aliyah: Numbers 21:21-22:1 (16 verses)
Maftir: Numbers 21:34-22:1 (3 verses)

Special Maftir
Shabbat Rosh Chodesh: Numbers 28:9-15 (7 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Judges 11:1 – 11:33

When Parashat Khukat coincides with a special Shabbat, a different Haftarah is traditionally read:

Shabbat Rosh Chodesh: Isaiah 66:1 – 66:24


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