Parshas Chukas :
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/webreb.htm

Parshas Chukas:


"Zos Chukas ha-Torah..."

The Pasuk tells us about the commandment of the Red Heifer, and calls it "the decree of the Torah".

What is meant by this?

We know that there are Chokim, these are commandments that we are required to do, even though we may find it difficult to understand the deeper meanings behind those Chokim.

At the same time, we are also commanded to keep the Mishpatim. These are laws that one may be able to understand rationally, such as "Respecting ones parents, not killing, not stealing..."

Comes the Torah and tells us, what is a Chok?

Parah Adumah. Why does the Torah pick Parah Adumah, when we have many other, more common laws, such as Kashrus?

Rav Moshe Feinstein Z"tl writes that the Pasuk comes to tell us that the "laws" of the Parah Aduma, is that it purifies those who are impure. And at the same time, it makes unclean, those who were pure.

This, explains Rav Moshe, is what we find in the whole Torah. Every Midah that a person has, can be used to help one keep Mitzvohs and serve Hashem, yet they can also be used, Chalilah, against the commandments of the Torah.

As it says in Hosheia "For the ways of Hashem are straight, the Tzadikim follow in these paths, while the Reshaim stumble in the same path."

One must use his evil power that he has in him, to do good and serve his good powers.

Rav Moshe's son, Rav Dovid Feinstein comes and explains on a similar note, that this is the main essence of the Torah, just like one may not understand how ashes of a red cow mixed with water can purify an unclean person, the same with Torah. Torah has the power to cleanse its followers from many types of impurities, yet one must pursue the Torah with the proper intentions, and with a thirst to learn and come closer to Hashem. Then the Torah will transform one into a pure and sincere person.

Just like in the case of Parah-Adumah, we don't understand this law, the same is true by the learning of Torah, we may not understand how, yet it cleanses the soul and changes the person, inside and outside.

Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz brings down that, the when one fulfils a Mitzvah which is not of the rational types, he gives testimony that he has complete faith and desire to fulfill Hashem's commandments. For human nature makes it difficult for one to feel obligated to do something, especially if he can't understand why he is obligated.

This urge that one may have, at times is so great, that we find in history that one may even build himself illusionary boundaries, in order to gain the pleasure of breaking these boundaries. Thus the Torah requires from us, not only to keep these laws and boundaries, yet also to rejoice over fulfilling Hashems commandments, just for the sake of serving Hashem and keeping to his commandments.

We can also see the love that the Cohen had for his fellow Jew, he was willing to become Tamei in order to help his fellow Yid. This is a sign of true love, when one is willing to give up something of his for another.

Comes Rav Michel Barenbaum and explains that we can learn a lesson from here to our everyday lives, we must try our utmost to deal with people who do not yet act according to the Torah, and try to persuade them to taste the enjoyment of a Torah life. One can not merely excuse himself from this Arvus that he has on his fellow Jew, worrying that he may be effected by the others behavior.

We see from the Cohen, that at times one is required to take minor risks in order to provide the opportunity for his fellow Jew to make a major change in his spiritual life.

Pasuk (21:26,27)

The Torah discusses that Sihon came out to attack the Bnei Yisroel, and Yisroel won the war against them.

Than our Pasuk comes along and says, "Therefore the poets would say, Come to Cheshbon, let it be built and established as the city Sichon."

Chazal (Gemarah B.B. 78:b) explain the Pasuk as coming to teach us a lesson:

What is meant by "Al Kayn Yomruh Ha-Moshlim"?

It is talking about those that are in control of their Yetzer.

And what is meant by "Bohuh Cheshbon"?

Come and make a calculation of gains and losses of doing a Mitzvah. And calculate the gains and losses of doing an Aveirah.

Comes Rav Yonason Aibeshitz and asks, how does this Drahsa from the Chazal fit into the literal explanation of our Pasuk.

What's the connection?

So he explains in his Sefer Ya-arot Dvash (Drush 5), the Torah wants to teach us a valuable lesson from the outcome of the city "Cheshbon".

This city was a border line city on the outskirts of the kingdom of Moav, if the king of Moav would have invested in this city, and watch over it with guards to protect it, the city wouldn't have fallen into the hands of Sihon.

However, in reality, since this was a relatively small city and not so important, the king of Moav hardly invested in protecting this city.

Thus it easily fell into the hands of Sihon.

This was the starting point for Sihon, this little point was the beginning of Sihon conquering the whole Kingdom of Moav.

We can learn a very valuable lesson from Moav's mistake.

This is the lesson that the Chazal tell us of the Yetzer.

When the Yetzer Harah comes to you and tries to conquer you, first he starts off with trying to get you to stumble on the "light" Mitzvos.

Such as, " I am so hungry, even though the store doesn't have a good Hechsher, only one time I will allow myself to eat. Anyway, what could be wrong with plain fish?"

Also, "It is so late, I am to tired to Daven with a Minyan, I will Daven at home..."

Don't give in!!

Each person must make his own boundaries in keeping the Mitzvos, and he must make sure not to let the Yetzer Harah even to put one foot in.

For if one falls into the hands of the Yetzer Hara, he can conquer the person Mitzvah by Mitzvah.



The Shulchan Aruch (O.C.580) brings down the days that we have the Minhag to fast on, because of the troubles that our fathers had on those days.

The Magen Avraham (in the name of the Tanya) adds "On the Friday before Parshas Chukas, some have the Minhag to fast".

This is in order to remember what happened in those days due to our sins.

"For on this day Hashem's Torah was burnt, 5004 days after the creation of the world, on Friday of Parshas Chukas. 24 full carts of Sforim - Talmud, Halachos, Agados,...were burnt in France."

When rumor brought the bad news about what had happened, it was made known that a "Sheilat Chalom" was done in order to know if this was a "Gzeiras Hashem".

They were answered that "Dah Gzeiras Oraysah"(know that it was a Gzeiras Hashem).

This is the same term we find in Onkelos when he explains the Pasuk of "Zohs Chukas Ha-Torah".

Thus they excepted, on Friday, Parshas Chukas, as a Gzeirah.

From that day and on, some have taken upon themselves to fast.

It also doesn't make a difference on which day of the month it falls out on.