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5 Facts About Parshat Chukat that You (Maybe) Didn’t Know

Published on Friday August 20th, 2021

Discover and learn every week, "5 Facts" written on the weekly Parshah that you can share at your Shabbos table.

זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה ה' לֵאמֹ֑ר דַּבֵּ֣ר ׀ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶיךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה תְּמִימָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֵֽין־בָּהּ֙ מ֔וּם אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹא־עָלָ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ עֹֽל׃ (19:2)

This is the ritual law that the LORD has commanded: Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid.

1.     How many Red Cows were there in history?

  • There were 9 red cows from the time Torah was given until the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash. The first one was Moshe’s, then there was one in the days of Ezra, two in the days of  Shimon Hatzaddik, two in the days of  Yochanan the High Priest, one in the days of Eliyahu, one in the days of  Chanamel the Egyptian and one in the days of  Yishamel, son of Piabi. The 10th one will be in the days of  Moshiach. (Rambam, Bachya, see Parah Ch. 3)


קַ֣ח אֶת־הַמַּטֶּ֗ה וְהַקְהֵ֤ל אֶת־הָעֵדָה֙ אַתָּה֙ וְאַהֲרֹ֣ן אָחִ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתֶּ֧ם אֶל־הַסֶּ֛לַע לְעֵינֵיהֶ֖ם וְנָתַ֣ן מֵימָ֑יו וְהוֹצֵאתָ֨ לָהֶ֥ם מַ֙יִם֙ מִן־הַסֶּ֔לַע וְהִשְׁקִיתָ֥ אֶת־הָעֵדָ֖ה וְאֶת־בְּעִירָֽם׃ (20:8)

“You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. Thus you shall produce water for them from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts.”

2.     Where did the rock originated from?

  • From the word “Haselah/*The* rock”we learn that this rock was created to provide water and was previously used for this purpose. This rock was the one that provided Hagar with water when Ishmael was dying of thirst. As mentioned, it was also the rock that served as the “well of Miriam” and was also the rock that Moshe was told to speak to for water after Miriam’s passing.  This rock was hidden from us.  Some say that this rock was the same rock from which Moshe brought forth water the first time. (Ramban, Meam Loez)


וַיָּ֨רֶם מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶת־יָד֗וֹ וַיַּ֧ךְ אֶת־הַסֶּ֛לַע בְּמַטֵּ֖הוּ פַּעֲמָ֑יִם וַיֵּצְאוּ֙ מַ֣יִם רַבִּ֔ים וַתֵּ֥שְׁתְּ הָעֵדָ֖ה וּבְעִירָֽם׃ (20:11)

And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank.

3.     What happened when Moshe hit the rock?

  • Moshe went from rock to rock saying the words Hashem had told him to use but he was unable to find the right one. He therefore thought that maybe he was supposed to hit the rock as he was told to do  the first time (Exodus 17:6). When Moshe raised his arm to strike it, Hashem placed the correct rock in front of him and he hit it causing the rock to release several drops of blood before the water flowed. According to another opinion, when Moshe first hit the rock only a few drops of water came out. A number of scoffers made fun of this. After Moshe struck the rock a second time, so much water came out that it drowned them. (Nachalat Yaakov, Meam Loez)

4.     What was Moshe’s mistake when hitting the rock?

  • On one side of Moshe’s staff was inscribed the Name which had the power to dry water and had been used to split the Red Sea. On the  other side of the staff was inscribed  the Name which had the power to bring forth water. But in his anger against the Jews for rebelling, Moshe mistakenly first hit the rock with the wrong side. (Yalkut Reuveni, Kli Yakar)


וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה֙ אַל־תִּירָ֣א אֹת֔וֹ כִּ֣י בְיָדְךָ֞ נָתַ֧תִּי אֹת֛וֹ וְאֶת־כָּל־עַמּ֖וֹ וְאֶת־אַרְצ֑וֹ וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ לּ֔וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֗יתָ לְסִיחֹן֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּחֶשְׁבּֽוֹן׃ (21:34)

But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I give him and all his people and his land into your hand. You shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites who dwelt in Heshbon.”

1.     Why would Moshe suddenly be afraid of anyone, let alone Og?

  • We see that Moshe asked for special protection  from Og. Moshe, being a reincarnation of Noach, believed that no one would harm him in appreciation to Noach who saved their ancestors from the flood. Og, however, survived on his own by  holding on to the outside the Ark. As such, Og did not feel a sense of gratitude or appreciation to Noach, or by extension to Moshe, and so Moshe was worried that he may harm him.  (Mishnat Hagilgulim p.9, Tzidkat HaTzadik Ot 96/ Nidah 51a)
Eytan Yéhouda DZIKOWSKI - © Torah-Box Account

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