Shabbat Shalom Weekly: Chukat 5759
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Chukat(Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Chukat 5759

GOOD MORNING!  Recently I heard a story. It gave such a tremendous insight into life that I knew that I had to share it with you.

A high school science teacher wanted to demonstrate a concept to his students. He takes a large-mouth jar and places several large rocks in it. He then asks the class, "Is it full?" Unanimously, the class reply, "Yes!"

The teacher then takes a bucket of gravel and pours it into the jar. The small rocks settle into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asks the class, "Is it full?" This time there are some students holding back, but most reply, "Yes!"

The teacher then produces a large can of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. The sand fills up the spaces between the gravel. For the third time, the teacher asks, "Is it full?" Now most of the students are wary of answering, but again, many reply, "Yes!"

Then the teacher brings out a pitcher of water and pours it into the jar. The water saturates the sand. At this point the teacher asks the class, "What is the point of this demonstration?"

One bright young student raises his hand and then responds, "No matter how full one's schedule is in life, he can always squeeze in more things!"

"No," replies the teacher, "The point is that unless you first place the big rocks into the jar, you are never going to get them in. The big rocks are the important things in your life -- your family, your friends, your personal growth. If you fill your life with small things -- as demonstrated by the gravel, the sand and the water -- you will never have the time for the important things.

So, what are the "Big Rocks" in your life? Spending time with your children, your parents or your spouse? Taking the seminar or class to get the information and perspective you need to succeed? Making the time to set goals, plan or evaluate your progress? When you are hassled because there is no time, remember the story about the Big Rocks and the Jar!


Torah Portion of the Week
Chukat

Another week of action, adventure and mystery as the Jewish people wander the desert in their 38th year. First, the laws of the red heifer (Parah Adumah) which was burnt with cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet thread. The ashes were then used in a purification ceremony for those who had come in contact with the dead. Strangely enough, all who were involved in the making of the ashes became ritually impure, but all who were sprinkled with them became ritually pure. It is a lesson that we must do the commandments even if we can't understand them. G-d decreed the commandments. They are for our benefit. We may not always know why.

Miriam, Moshe's sister and a prophetess, dies. The portable well which had accompanied the Israelites on her merit, ceased to flow. Once again the people rebelled against Moshe and Aharon because of the lack of water. The Almighty tells Moshe to speak to the rock for water. Moshe gets angry and hits the rock and water rushes forth. However, the Almighty punishes Moshe and Aharon for not sanctifying Him by forbidding their entry into the land of Israel. (It pays to follow instructions and to withhold anger!)

Aharon dies. His son, Elazar, is appointed the new High Priest. The Canaanite king of Arad attacks the Israelites and later is soundly defeated. Then there is another rebellion over the food and water which is answered by a plague of poisonous snakes. Moshe prays for the people and is instructed by G-d to put the image of a snake on a high pole. All who saw it would think of G-d, repent and live.

The Israelites then annihilate the Amorites and Bashanites who not only would not let us pass peacefully through their lands, but attacked us. There are many questions which need to be asked. Please consult the original work and a good commentary.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Speaking of rocks, the Torah states regarding Moshe's hitting the rock instead of speaking to it (as he was commanded to do by the Almighty): "And the Almighty said to Moshe and Aharon, because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel, therefore, you will not bring this congregation to the Land which I gave them." (Numbers 20:12)

Rashi, the greatest of commentators, elucidates that if Moshe were to have spoken to the rock (instead of hitting it) and it would have given forth water, the Almighty would have been sanctified in the eyes of the congregation. The people would say, "If this rock which does not speak and does not hear fulfills the word of the Almighty, all the more so should we."

We see from here that the essence of sanctifying the Almighty's name is not merely that someone should be impressed by another person's righteous behavior or to think that a person is acting in an elevated manner. Rather, the key factor is that other people should be influenced to improve their own behavior. Whenever you behave in a manner that influences others to follow the Almighty's will, you sanctify His name.

Published: January 24, 2000

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