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  • Why Did Moshe Rabbeinu Hit The Rock?

    In Parashat Chukat 20:6-13, Hashem tells Moshe to take a staff and talk the rock, but Moshe hits it. Plenty of water came out, people drank, and the animals drank as well. But what is this miraculous stone?

    In Masechet Chagigah 12A:7, it talks about the Tohu va Vohu, and Vohu are the damp stones from which water emerges. Hashem wanted to introduce the nation to Vohu stones - the damp stones, a lifesaver in Israel or any dry climate that depends on rain. These stones could help greatly with agriculture since the nation is about to enter Eretz Yisrael. With the knowledge of the type of stone that has that capability, the nation can irrigate the land anywhere in Israel’s dry climate, which means good crops and prosperity. 

    So, water came out, as is, it's a great miracle, but why both of the brothers were punished? 

    Every time Moshe had a question, he was always consulting with Hashem, but this time, the people were pressuring him to bring the water, and for a second, Moshe, if I may say - lost his cool or got angry - instead he should of stick to his rule of asking Hashem as he did always in the past. So, in a way, Moshe made the same mistake as Aharon and hurried with his decision, by hitting instead of asking Hashem. Moshe said from which should we bring, and took credit for both. Aharon was there, and since this scenario was familiar to him, and he did not stop his brother, both got punished pretty much for the identical sin.

    Hashem wanted him to talk to the rock, and people would have learned a lesson - look even the rock listens to Moshe who tells over the word of G-d, so we the people should do the same.

    But there may be even a deeper explanation. Since the times of Avraham Avinu and earlier, rock has been used for idols, Hashem wanted Moshe to teach them a different way of using rock in service of the Divine. But it didn’t happen. The nations of the world since then have used it for idols - there are humongous statues of different deities, and other symbols and buildings built across the globe dedicated to anyone but G-d Almighty. Moshe had an opportunity to fix it then, but he missed this opportunity. That’s why the sin is so great which lasts thousands of years and is practiced by billions across the globe till today, and the impact of it is simply Huge. That’s why Hashem punished them both and forbade them to enter the Eretz Yisrael. That would be also why Hashem didn’t want Moshe to build the Bet Hamikdash, since he didn’t elevate the use of the stone properly, thus he lost the opportunity of building the Bet Hamikdash that is made out of the stone.

    The above is just to get us familiar with the story. But once again, let's go even more deeper.

    In Parashat Balak, when Bilaam is invited to "bless the Nation", in his first blessing he said: מִ֤י מָנָה֙ עֲפַ֣ר יַעֲקֹ֔ב וּמִסְפָּ֖ר אֶת־רֹ֣בַע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל תָּמֹ֤ת נַפְשִׁי֙ מ֣וֹת יְשָׁרִ֔ים וּתְהִ֥י אַחֲרִיתִ֖י כָּמֹֽהוּ׃ - Who can count the dust of Jacob, Number the dust-cloud of Israel? May I die the death of the upright, May my fate be like his! -- I would like to stop on the word Kamohu - Like his or can be read Like him. Bilaam is talking about the upright of the generation, but for a second, let's look at what other explanation may be.

    Kamohu - like him, we not exactly sure who he means, to zero in on the specific personality, we need to go to Parashat Shoftim 18:15,  נָבִ֨יא מִקִּרְבְּךָ֤ מֵאַחֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּמֹ֔נִי יָקִ֥ים לְךָ֖ הי אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ אֵלָ֖יו תִּשְׁמָעֽוּן׃ - From among your own people, your G-d will raise up for you a prophet like myself; that is whom you shall heed. Here it says Kamoni - like me, so we know it is Moshe he is referring to. And later Hashem confirms in 18:17: נָבִ֨יא אָקִ֥ים לָהֶ֛ם מִקֶּ֥רֶב אֲחֵיהֶ֖ם כָּמ֑וֹךָ וְנָתַתִּ֤י דְבָרַי֙ בְּפִ֔יו וְדִבֶּ֣ר אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם אֵ֖ת כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲצַוֶּֽנּוּ׃ - I will raise up for them from among their own people a prophet like yourself, in whose mouth I will put My words and who will speak to them all that I command; Kamocha - like you. 

    So Bilaam means Moshe, that he wants his fate to be like his. But Moshe means a prophet to be appointed at the end of days, a Mashiach himself, and he wants him to be like Moshe Rabbeinu, Hashem confirms his request and says that He will do so. We need to find out why Moshe is making such a request. Why Moshe is asking that Mashiach should be like Moshe Rabbeinu?

    Bilaam and Balak came to the desert for one reason only, Balak the king of Moab wanted to "bless" the Jewish nation, and Bilaam was invited to carry out the order, so when their armies meet in the battle or even without it - the Jewish nation should lose. This all sounds good, but when they came to the desert to carry out the plan, Bilaam understood that this was an impossible task. Thus the word Kamohu - like him means, Bilaam saw a giant – and said - even I cannot go against a person like him!!

    Ever since Moshe separated himself from his wife Tziporah, starting from Parashat Yitro and in Vaetchanan, Moshe was growing in Torah knowledge, and getting closer to Hashem, but as he was doing all this, he also was getting ready to meet his challenger - Bilaam HaRasha, and not only him. 

    In the Midrash, we are told of a story. One day Hashem showed Adam HaRishon in a prophetic vision of all the personalities that came from him, from the beginning of time till the end of days. Adam watches it all, and then he sees a small child who lives for a few minutes and dies after a short while. Adam asks Hashem, why he died, Hashem tells him that this is how his fate or mazal is, so Adam gives him 70 years of his life, and this child is David HaMelech, who lives a full life of 70 years because Adam has given him a chance to live. 

    It is a nice story - but for the kids. Let me ask you a question...do you think something is not told in this story? Why suddenly does Adam feel so philanthropic, and gives away years from his own life to this infant? Many kids pass away around the world, how come Adam didn't give to any of them, but gave to this little kid named David? With your permission, I would like to fill in the blanks of what may be the reason.

    Adam HaRishon watches all the events and personalities and gets nervous towards the end of the days - Ketz HaYamim. Why? Because of the following story. When his oldest son Kayin killed Hevel, Adam decided not to have any more children, so for 130 years he was sitting inside a river and not coming close - not being together with his wife Chava. But Adam was a healthy male, and while in the river, not on purpose - he wasted seed. Since he was created by Hashem, and was a holy being, his seed turned into demonic beings, that went roaming the earth (Zohar, Parashat Bereshit), and in 130 years he created plenty of those creatures.

    As he was watching this "movie", he was horrified to see how those beings attacked the people and nations throughout history causing all sorts of problems and events to occur. But then he noticed one man, that went against them - the son of David, and he was successful in this battle.  As he traced his lineage, he came to this kid - David who died a few minutes after being born, which means there will be no Son of David and no one to fight those battles in the future. Realizing his mistake - of creating and unleashing these beings into this world, and driven by the desire of teshuvah - fixing his sin, Adam HaRishon has given 70 years of his life to David, so he can father Shlomo, so the lineage could continue and the Messiah should be born into this world, to fix the mistake of Adam HaRishon - to battle the wars of G-dMilchamot Hashem.

    Hashem wanted to make Yehoshua bin Nun a Mashiach - Mashiach ben Yosef, since he was from Efrayim, the son of Yosef HaTzaddik, and then Yehoshua would have prepared the environment for the arrival of Ben David. But Moshe felt, and he foresaw, since he was a prophet, that it was too early, and the kings that would come later wouldn't be able to do what Moshe did and would not follow the ways of their forefathers. With the capabilities of the Vohu stone - the damp stone, access to drinking water and abundance of it for irrigation, and power and prosperity that comes with it, it will be misused throughout the ages, and instead of the good - all would turn out for the worst.

    When Miriam was alive, and they had water, Moshe lived separately in the tent - back then he wore many hats. During the day he was a leader and a teacher of the nation, but at night, he was their spiritual protector. When Bilaam came and tried to curse the nation, Moshe Rabbeinu had built already an invisible wall of protection around the camp. His learning, his prayers, and simply his being there amongst the nation were enough to make sure no Bilaam's or anyone's curses could penetrate the camp's spiritual defense line.

    Moshe was concerned for the nation, too much was at stake. Besides fighting wars on the battlefield, plenty of wars needed to be fought in the spiritual realm. People like Bilaam and Balak are always watching and trying to do evil to the nation, by manipulating the unleashed ancient demons or trying to hurt the nation any other way they see fit. Moshe felt that Yehoshua and the people that would come after him would not be able to fight them off till the Son of David arrived, and till year 6,000 mark or even earlier is a long time to expose the nation to those types of situations, where others will be trying to take over the land because of its abundance. Hashem has assured him that this task would be taken on by the biggest hidden and known tzaddikim in every generation. Each generation has its giants that are there quietly protecting us, and we may know them or find out about them after a tragedy hits us, and then we realize that it is because that protector is no longer around, so this is when the next generation of tzadikim step in quietly and take their place instead.

    So there was Moshe, not talking to the rock, but hitting, and not once but twice - fully believing in his choice, and making the ruling - psak for the nation, and deciding as a leader, and postponing the revelation of the knowledge of the stone.

    וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הי אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֒ יַ֚עַן לֹא־הֶאֱמַנְתֶּ֣ם בִּ֔י לְהַ֨קְדִּישֵׁ֔נִי לְעֵינֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל לָכֵ֗ן לֹ֤א תָבִ֙יאוּ֙ אֶת־הַקָּהָ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַ֥תִּי לָהֶֽם׃ - But Hashem said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them."

    Even though Moshe chose not to go with the plan of Hashem, Hashem kept His word by being with the Nation, and never abandoning it even for a second. Yehoshua bin Nun took the nation across the Jordan River, battled and won 31 kings, and conquered the Eretz Yisrael, thus becoming one of the greatest generals and prophets in our history. Hashem also has sprinkled in every generation till our times the hidden and known Tzadikkim, who are giants, and always there for us battling in the spiritual realm in and out of the spotlight. 

    This would also explain why in Parashat Matot-Masei, Moshe allowed 2.5 tribes to stay outside of Israel, since redemption is not happening any time soon. And why in Parashat Vaetchanan, Hashem told him not to pray anymore, since Moshe made the choice, and now he has to live with it.

    And why do we need that Vohu - the damp stone? Since it was never revealed to us, the Land of Israel never experienced true prosperity and is always dependent on rain. Dependence on rain means weak prosperity, a weak economy, and a weak army, which would explain the destruction that has been happening for thousands of years. Today in Israel they have the technology for irrigation, and because of this the deserts have been turned into gardens, and Israel has a strong economy, and a strong army. But with the coming of Mashiach, Hashem will reveal to us this stone, and with Kibbutz Galuyot – an ingathering of the exiles, the prosperity will grow exponentially across the board, as it says in the Book of Prophet Yeshayahu.

    But until then, there are wars around the globe, pandemics, mournings, unrest, vacations, elections, parties, fun, and lots of noise going on in every corner of the world. But stop all of that noise for a second and listen. Do you hear the knock on the door? Who is it you may ask? It is the Son of David. Can someone answer the door?

    - Shmuel Katanov

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  • Part 2 - The Red Heifer, The Secret Revealed

    If you haven't read Part One, I would strongly suggest it, since the ideas below are built on the knowledge of the previous article.


    The ceremony of the red heifer seems to be very mysterious, but when you analyze it, you will find that Hashem is making some major atonement for a misdeed made before

    So, let's look at it together.

    What qualifies a red heifer as acceptable for the ceremony?

    These are some of the requirements:
    - The cow must have never worn a yoke or performed any type of a job. 
    - Never cohabited, and must have no blemish, etc..

    Maybe the following ideas were never mentioned anywhere, but for a second, please allow me to present some of the ideas that may shed some light on this, which in my humble opinion, may have a right to exist. 

    When a korban is brought, a person places his hands, admits his guilt, and says that this animal will be brought as a sacrifice instead of him, that is why Korban has the same root as Karov - to come near or draw closer.

    The same thing happens here. It looks like the red heifer is brought as a korban to atone for Chava. Why Chava you ask? Well let's see, Chava also didn't do any work while they lived in the Garden of Eden, she hasn't been close with Adam, and wasn't pregnant while in the Garden of Eden. When she ate from the Tree of Knowledge and made her husband eat it, she brought death into this world and distanced her future descendants from the Creator. So, the sprinkling of the Red Heifer atones for an impurity of contact with a dead body, and draws the person back to Hashem.

    Why does Cohen become defiled and needs to go through a cleansing process, while the one being sprinkled on becomes pure? In Parashat Bereshit, when Adam and Chava ate from the Tree of Knowledge, Hashem asked whether Adam ate it or not. Adam said that the woman that You gave, she gave it to me, and made me eat it. The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah 5B, says that Adam has shown his ingratitude, and has not taken the blame on himself. This was not a right thing to do, and an atonement now is required. And since Adam was created by Hashem himself, and he was very holy and close to Hashem, so the only people that could atone for Adam - are the Cohanim, the highest echelon of the society, and closest to Hashem, since they are allowed to enter into the deepest and holiest places in the Bet Hamikdash while doing their service.

    So when the Cohen sprinkles someone in order to purify him, the Cohen at that moment becomes impure or as if he is taking the blame, or the impurity upon himself for the other man, thus atoning for the sin of ungratefulness of Adam HaRishon. Where Adam fell short, his sons - the cohanim are making up for it.

    So the Red Heifer atones for Chava, while the cohen that sprinkles the water atones for Adam HaRishon. This whole process returns the nation of Israel and all of humanity to purity level before Adam and Chava sinned with the original sin when they were in the Garden of Eden.


    So this, in my opinion, would be the secret of the Red Heifer.

    And what happens after the nation becomes pure, you can read here.


    Shmuel Katanov

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  • Part 1 - Why The Red Heifer?

    We all have heard of the Red Heifer, it is the commandment that has no explanation, but with your permission, I would like to try to explain it. So, without further ado, let's get started.


    There are different types of cows in this world, but the Torah gives us a commandment where we have to take the rare cow - the red heifer for a ceremony. 

    In Parashat Chukat 19:2-9 it says:

    זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר דַּבֵּ֣ר ׀ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶ֩יךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה תְּמִימָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֵֽין־בָּהּ֙ מ֔וּם אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹא־עָלָ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ עֹֽל׃ 
    This is the law of the Torah which the Lord has commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Yisrael, that they bring thee a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and upon which never came a yoke: 

    וּנְתַתֶּ֣ם אֹתָ֔הּ אֶל־אֶלְעָזָ֖ר הַכֹּהֵ֑ן וְהוֹצִ֤יא אֹתָהּ֙ אֶל־מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְשָׁחַ֥ט אֹתָ֖הּ לְפָנָֽיו׃ 
    and you shall give her to Elazar the priest, that he may bring her outside the camp, and she shall be slaughtered before his face: 

    וְשָׂרַ֥ף אֶת־הַפָּרָ֖ה לְעֵינָ֑יו אֶת־עֹרָ֤הּ וְאֶת־בְּשָׂרָהּ֙ וְאֶת־דָּמָ֔הּ עַל־פִּרְשָׁ֖הּ יִשְׂרֹֽף׃ 
    and the heifer shall be burnt in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall be burnt: וְלָקַ֣ח הַכֹּהֵ֗ן עֵ֥ץ אֶ֛רֶז וְאֵז֖וֹב וּשְׁנִ֣י תוֹלָ֑עַת וְהִשְׁלִ֕יךְ אֶל־תּ֖וֹךְ שְׂרֵפַ֥ת הַפָּרָֽה׃ 
    and the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 

    וְאָסַ֣ף ׀ אִ֣ישׁ טָה֗וֹר אֵ֚ת אֵ֣פֶר הַפָּרָ֔ה וְהִנִּ֛יחַ מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה בְּמָק֣וֹם טָה֑וֹר וְ֠הָיְתָ֠ה לַעֲדַ֨ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֧ל לְמִשְׁמֶ֛רֶת לְמֵ֥י נִדָּ֖ה חַטָּ֥את הִֽוא׃ 
    And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them outside the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Yisrael for the water of sprinkling: it is a purification offering. 

    This reminds me of something in Parashat Toldot. It says there in the Toldot 25:30 - "Esau said to Jacob: Feed me now from that red, red [haadom haadom] dish, as I am tired. Therefore, his name is called Edom". -  These two events in the Torah are connected via the red heifer and the soup that Eisav bought -- red or rare heifer VS הָאָדֹ֤ם הָאָדֹם֙ הַזֶּ֔ה - this red red dish. When he asks for that dish, Hashem wants us to pay attention to Eisav.

    What is Hashem trying to tell us? 

    Hashem is trying to tell us that He is concerned about Eisav. But, not the ancient Eisav, the brother of Yaakov Avinu, the one that has abandoned the path and faith of his father Yitzchak and grandfather Avraham. The one that ran after the wealth, and luxury of this world, while ignoring the spiritual side, thus being forever lost to Torah and Judaism not only himself but billions of his descendants over the centuries till today. 

    Hashem is concerned about the other Eisav, about the one you and I may know - the everyday Eisav'im. The ones we see on the street, and maybe the one that stares back at you in the mirror. Some are lost to the Torah and mitzvot because they either don't know it or maybe if they do, they choose to ignore it. These are the Eisav'im of today - Hashem does not want to lose. He cares about them and He wants them back.

    And how will He get them back? This is where the Red Heifer comes in.

    In the Haftorah for the Parashat Parah, after the red heifer is made to ashes, in Ezekiel 36:25-37, it says the following:

    וְזָרַקְתִּ֧י עֲלֵיכֶ֛ם מַ֥יִם טְהוֹרִ֖ים וּטְהַרְתֶּ֑ם מִכֹּ֧ל טֻמְאוֹתֵיכֶ֛ם וּמִכׇּל־גִּלּ֥וּלֵיכֶ֖ם אֲטַהֵ֥ר אֶתְכֶֽם׃ 
    I will sprinkle pure water upon you, and you shall be purified: I will purify you from all your defilement and all your fetishes. 

    וְנָתַתִּ֤י לָכֶם֙ לֵ֣ב חָדָ֔שׁ וְר֥וּחַ חֲדָשָׁ֖ה אֶתֵּ֣ן בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וַהֲסִ֨רֹתִ֜י אֶת־לֵ֤ב הָאֶ֙בֶן֙ מִבְּשַׂרְכֶ֔ם וְנָתַתִּ֥י לָכֶ֖ם לֵ֥ב בָּשָֽׂר׃ 
    And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; 

    וְאֶת־רוּחִ֖י אֶתֵּ֣ן בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְעָשִׂ֗יתִי אֵ֤ת אֲשֶׁר־בְּחֻקַּי֙ תֵּלֵ֔כוּ וּמִשְׁפָּטַ֥י תִּשְׁמְר֖וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶֽם׃ 
    And I will put My spirit into you. Thus I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully observe My rules. 

    וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־דַּרְכֵיכֶ֣ם הָרָעִ֔ים וּמַעַלְלֵיכֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־טוֹבִ֑ים וּנְקֹֽטֹתֶם֙ בִּפְנֵיכֶ֔ם עַ֚ל עֲוֺנֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעַ֖ל תּוֹעֲבוֹתֵיכֶֽם׃ 
    Then you will remember your evil ways and your doings that were not good, and you shall hate yourselves in your sight because of your sins and your disgusting practices.

    לֹ֧א לְמַעַנְכֶ֣ם אֲנִֽי־עֹשֶׂ֗ה נְאֻם֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֔ה יִוָּדַ֖ע לָכֶ֑ם בּ֧וֹשׁוּ וְהִכָּֽלְמ֛וּ מִדַּרְכֵיכֶ֖ם בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃         
    Not for your sake will I act — declares the Sovereign G-d — let it be known to you. Be ashamed and humiliated because of your ways, O House of Israel! 

    When they will sprinkle the waters of the Red Heifer on the people, it will purify them, and it will also change the heart of stone we currently have to the heart of flesh, and this is when we will finally understand and regret the times we went against G-d and His laws. 

    And this is Hashem's plan to help the Eisav'im of Today - all of us, to come back home - to truly repent and become holy, and to "re-join" the Jewish nation with a heart full of gratitude, and dedication to Hashem and His laws.

    May it speedily happen in our days, Amen!

    Click here for Part Two, to go even deeper and understand the secrets of the Red Heifer.

    Shmuel Katanov

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