Saturday, June 23, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Chukat ("You got no water, how you gonna survive")

To be expanded after Shabbos:
Miriam dies, the well of Miriam dries up and they don't have water following them wherever they go
Aaron dies and the Clouds of Glory ascend to heaven, no longer leading the Children of Israel.
When Moses will die in the final parasha the manna ceases to fall from heaven.

Important family...

Boy what is Matt going to do with this Dvar Torah after shabbos? You're gonna just have to wait and see...

Shabbat Shalom.

PS: (on the following Friday, okay, kind of procrastinated it). Answer to the previous question: Absolutely nothing. I'd rather take a look at some other things. Snakes. The copper snake is troubling. Why do we need something potentially idolatrous (and in the future will be come idolatrous) to save us; why do we need to look at something carved from bronze to heal us from deadly venomous asp bites? The reason, I think, is the same reason why Moses has to have his hands raised in parashat Beshalach to be victorious over the Amalekite cads. We need to read between the lines, or, more accurately, beyond the lines. Past Moses on the high mountain and past the copper snake on a long pole (the Hebrew for "pole", here, by the way is nes, which also means "miracle") is the sky. In Psalm 121 (just remember the famous Carlebach rendition of Esa Einai), it says "I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Whence (it means "from where") will my help come? My help is from the Lord, Creator of the heaven and earth." When we look to God, we are inspired. Did Moses' hands and staff open up the Sea? No, it was God. Let's sort of take a look (meaning using my own self-serving 'translation') at the final verses of Exodus ch 14, immediately preceding the Song at the Sea. "When the Israelites saw the Egyptians dead on the banks of the Sea, and saw the heavy hand which God wrought against the Egyptians, and (reversing the verse for better effect) they believed in the Lord and His servant Moses, but they were in awe of the Lord". Whether we choose to believe in magic or superstition, everything ultimately comes from God, an important point to remember. It wasn't the copper snake that saved us. No, God sent the asps to punish us and then sent us a cure. I don't know why we kept the damn thing. Hezekiah had to destroy it when people started praying to it. Ultimately my help comes from God, Creator of heaven and earth.

Also, the Haftarah cuts off right before the good parts. General Whats-his-name (I forget, look it up in the Haftarah) swears to sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house if God makes him victorious against the Ammonites. It cuts off after they rout the neighboring invading nation.
But what will come out of his house? His daughter greets him to congratulate the conquering hero. Oops. Though it is forbidden in the Torah as an abomination, he goes through with sacrificing his daughter. The other example of something like this happening is when King Saul vows that that specific day that the entire army will fast, anyone who eats on that day of battle will be killed. His son Jonathan is not informed of this rule and has a taste of honey. The Jews lose and, through the Urim V'Tumim, they discover Jonathan broke the vow. Though Jonathan is condemned to death, some other soldier guy asks to be killed in his place. Oy.

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