Hukkat: A Summary of the Parsha
God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the red heifer; Miriam dies; Moses hits a rock to bring forth water rather than speaking to it; Aaron dies.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!
God said to Moses and Aaron, 'Speak to the sons of Israel and find a completely red cow on which there is no blemish and no yoke has ever come. You shall give it to Eleazar, the priest, and he shall take it outside the camp and slaughter it. This cow shall then be made into an offering and those that participate in the sacrifice shall be unclean until the evening.
'Remember this everlasting statute,' God continues. 'One who touches the corpse of any human soul becomes unclean for seven days. If the corpse is in a tent, all that is within the tent is also unclean. There is a purification process involving water for people and their possessions. If one does not purify oneself after a state of uncleanliness, that soul shall be uprooted from Israel. Anything unclean must be made clean and pure before coming in contact with the holy Sanctuary.'
The entire community of Israel came into the wilderness of Tzin and settled down in Kadesh. Miriam died in Kadesh and was buried there.
In Kadesh, there was no water for the community and the people assembled against Moses and Aaron. They said, 'Why did you bring us here in the wilderness to die? Why did you take us from Egypt in order to bring us to this evil place? There are no figs or wine or pomegranates. There is not even water to drink.'
Moses and Aaron went to the Tent of Appointed Meeting and fell on their faces. The glory of God appeared to them. God said to Moses, 'Take your rod and assemble the community. Then you and your brother Aaron speak to the rock before the people’s eyes. You shall then bring forth water from out of the rock for the people and their animals.'
Moses and Aaron then gathered the congregation before the rock and Moses said to them, 'Listen now, O rebels, shall we bring forth water for you from this rock?' Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock with his staff twice and abundant water came forth and the people and their animals drank.
God said to Moses and Aaron. 'Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me before the eyes of the sons of Israel, you shall not bring this community into the land the land I have given them.'
Moses sent messengers to the King of Edom. In his message, Moses explained the story of God bringing the Jews out of Egypt. Moses asked the King if the Israelites could pass through the land of Edom peacefully and promised not to eat or drink of their land. The King of Edom said no. Then Moses sent word that the Israelites could go by a different road and pay for the water. Again, the King of Edom said no. Thus Edom refused permit to the Israelites to pass there.