"And all the congregation saw that AAron was dead, they wept for AAron 30 days--all the house of Israel " (20:29)
Rashi comments that when the verse said ,"all the house of Israel", this refers to both men and woman. Since Aaron pursued peace and caused love to prevail among men (including husband and wife), the entire nation mourned for him.(please refer to Rashi for further details)
Its interesting to note that even though people can live in peace, yet they dont neccesarily "love" one another. The peace that Aaron established ,according to Rashi, went even further in that it facilitated "love" among the feuding parties. This was a great feat indeed. In Avos Derov Nosson12, we get a glimpse
" And G-d sent among the people fiery serpents......................"(21:6)
After the Israelites complained against G-d and Mosha regarding their journey in the desert, they were punished with fiery serpents. They did not trust in G-d, and thus spoke "Lashon Hara"(malicious gossip) against G-d and Mosha. They accused G-d and Mosha of causing them ill in the desert.
They forgot all the good that was done for them. A question can be asked , why were fiery snakes sent to punish them? There must be a symbolism regarding the "fiery serpents". The Torah must be teaching us a lesson. I would like to propose the following original answer, Bezrat Hashem: The fiery serpents are symbolic of the 2 types of "gossipers" that exist. One type of gossiper will only use gossip as a means to destroy a foe or competitor.This represents a serpent that will only attack when it feels threatened. While fire will consume what it can, it is indiscriminate
Famously, Moshe Rabeinu sins in our sedra by ostensibly hitting a rock which he was commanded to speak to. What exactly was the sin? There are several opinions here; we shall cite a few of them. Rashi (20:11-12) writes the above point; that Moshe was supposed to speak to the rock but hit it instead (see Gur Aryeh for full explanation). The Rambam holds that the sin was that Moshe got angry with Klal Yisrael. Rebeinu Chananel is of the opinion that the sin was Moshe saying the words (20:10) ‘should we bring the water out of this rock,’ when he should have stressed that HaShem was going to bring the water forth. The Ramban writes that the sin was that Moshe hit the rock twice, thus making it out as if ‘nature’ was providing the water. See the peirush haTur and the Abrabanel for other approaches. The Netziv writes that Moshe was supposed to get the people to daven for the water to come - this being a more ‘natural’ way of obtaining the water. But instead, Moshe hit the rock, using a more miraculous, supernatural means of procuring the water. This, the Netziv continues, is why Moshe was punished by not being allowed into Eretz Yisrael, for the entry into Eretz Yisrael was to see Bnei Yisrael go from relying upon miracles to finding HaShem within the natural course of things. This is why Moshe was supposed to use the davening (‘natural’) route in procuring the water - to get the people accustomed to using natural means. Thus, when Moshe chose the more supernatural route he effectively rendered himself unfit to lead the people into the more ‘nature-governed’ (at least vis-à-vis Bnei Yisrael’s existence in the desert) Land of Israel.
The opening comment of Rashi in Chukas seems to be rather enigmatic. Commenting on why the pasuk (19:2) dubs the parah adumah a ‘chok’ (a mitzvah which we cannot comprehend), Rashi writes that the Satan and nations of the world would mock Klal Yisrael in asking ‘what reason does this mitzvah have and what’s the point of this mitzvah?’ Therefore, HaShem names the mitzvah a chok, saying ‘it’s my decree and you have no business looking into its reasons.’ How exactly does this answer respond to the attacks of the other nations? At the end of the day, the nations of the world were mocking this mitzvah for having no reason, and HaShem simply responds ‘you’re right, it has no reason - but you’re not allowed to think about it.’ What kind of response is that? The answer seems to be that the real, underlying criticism of the nations was that it does not make sense to have a mitzvah with no fathomable reason; nothing is achieved by such a mitzvah. But HaShem responds that this is incorrect; there is a benefit to performing a mitzvah which might have no reason whatsoever - there’s a benefit of having a mitzvah which is purely aimed at relying on HaShem and doing what He says regardless of what you understand. This is what it means ‘you have no business to think about it’ - since the point of the mitzvah is that it is intentionally set up as being beyond your comprehension, there’s no point in pondering it.
Parashas Chukas – Wisdom through Ignorance :
This week's sedra is Parashas Chukas and it is literally over-flowing with key events from our time in the Midbar/desert during those fateful forty years of wandering. Both Miriam and Aaron die in our sedra this week and the Torah describes the infamous event of Moshe's error in the hitting of the rock which comes as an indirect consequence to Miriam's death. The sedra then veers into an account of the wars which occurred during our final years in the Midbar which include the attack of the Amalek, the battle with Sihon the king of the Amorite and the final battle with Og, king of Bashan who was of course a humongous giant...
Nature dictates that children look somewhat like their parents, fruits look like other similar fruits, and animals act in predictable ways. But if that were always true, then how do the laws of the Red cow, brought in Parshat Chukat, make sense? How could the impure be purified, while the pure become impure? How do these things make sense, if there is to be order in nature and creation?
The Mofet Hador explains that we too were all given opposing forces. We were given the Torah, which tells us of these and other 'contradictions', and we were given the brain that wonders about all of it. The Parsha starts by helping us deal with these, and other issues. 'This is the law of the Torah" ..
Parshas Chukas; Fathoming the Unfathomable & Making it Relevant :
This week we shall look at an essential topic within the world of mitzvos. The topic is as detailed as it is important, and for a fuller picture please (feel free to) read the footnotes too. Our sedra opens with what the Torah dubs the quintessential ‘chok’ (to be defined); the parah adumah (red heifer, if you like) which turns the impure pure and the pure impure. We are going to focus on one question. There are two main types of mitzvos; chukim and mishpatim; not murdering is an example of the former, and the parah adumah typifies the latter. What is the difference between a chok and a mishpat? The ‘traditional answer’ is that a chok has no reason behind it, whilst a mishpat has a reason which is easily and fully understandable to man. However, as we shall see, this definition is not so simple or watertight… (the journey begins; fasten your seatbelts.)