Chukat (Degree) B’midbar Numbers 19-20

Torah Portion: Chukat (Decree) B’midbar (Numbers) 19:1-21:1

HafTorah: Judges 11:1-33

Tonight we read the Torah portion Chukat or Decree. In this Torah portion we read of the death of both Miriam and Aaron her brother. This leaves Moses alone, the last of his siblings. We also read of the incident of bringing forth water from the rock and the decree of the Red Heifer.

In Numbers 19 we read of this decree of Torah. It tells what is to be done to cleanse a person who is defiled by a dead body. This ritual uncleanness would bar a person from participating in the Temple life of Israel until they were cleansed by the ashes of the red heifer. Always remember this kind of defilement had nothing to do with sin but only barred a person from the corporate worship at the Temple or Mishkan. Interestingly after this decree we are told of the death of two of the leaders of Israel.