Parsha Chukas 5769: Rachel Imeinu’s Tefillot: Demarcation Point Between Corruption and Caring?


by Moshe Burt

The placement in Torah of the Parah Adumah in our Parsha Chukat raises questions as to why it and it’s Halachot are mentioned here in our Parsha; only after Korach’s rebellion and after the continued murmuring of the Am against Moshe Rabbeinu, and after the plague which killed thousands only ending with Aaron’s carrying an incense pan amongst the people (upon Moshe’s instruction), and after the story of the rods.

“Rabbi Artscroll” presents one answer to the question of placement in a commentary in The Stone Chumash on the words at the beginning of our Parsha :

“…el Moshe, v’el Aaron” [1] The answer speaks of the symbolism of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heiffer) coming to atone for the sin of the Eigel Zahav (the Golden Calf) “… as if to say let the Mother come and clean up the mess left by her child…”

Back in Philadelphia, in the “Old Country”, Rav Moshe Ungar would render the phenomenon of the Parah Adumah as a Tikkun given B’nai Yisrael after the Eigel Zahav, as an eternal rectification of the tumah, the defilement of the Eigel Zahav. In other words, the Tikkun only later revealed in Parsha Chukat, tells us that, like a doctor treating an ill patient, that the remedy for illness generally precedes the illness itself; that the means of rectification of a Chait precedes the Chait itself.

But perhaps there is another explanation, not in place of Tikkun of the Chait HaEigel, but in tandem with it. Could it be that the Chait HaEigel is a demarcation point?

This author has heard it said, after the chait of the Miraglim and then Korach’s rebellion (with it’s subsequent rebellions after the events of the firepans and the earth’s swallowing up of the rebels), that the communications channels between Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu were severed until the final year before the B’nai Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael when these channels were re-established. Or, if the connection was not severed, that there is little known about the intervening 38 years would indicate that the process of the previous generation dying off was not a happy time and that little, if anything new occurred worthy of noting, of teaching to B’nai Yisrael for posterity.

For why else do we learn, immediately after the laws of the Parah Adumah are given, that the “’entire community’ came to the wilderness of Tzin…”, that the people set up camp in Kodeish and that “Miriam died and was buried there?” (BaMidbar, Perek 20, posuk 1)
Rashi renders the “entire community” as;

The entire, perfect community. Those who were to die in the desert had already perished, and these were set apart to live. (Rashi, BaMidbar, Perek 20, posuk 1)

Then Rashi asks concerning Miriam’s death, which mentioned in connection with camping in Kodeish, why it is placed immediately after the Parah Adumah, and he answers;

To teach you that, just as the sacrifices bring atonement, so do the deaths of the righteous bring atonement. (ibid)

Rashi’s reckoning seems to state the obvious; that during the 38 years of wandering, the older generation between 20 and 60 had all died except for Yehoshua and Caleiv (the 2 Spies who were strong for entering Eretz Yisrael).

And here is where Rachel Imeinu comes in. Nearly 4 years after the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and the Shomron, we still suffer trauma today in Eretz Yisrael regarding the eviction of our fellow Jews and the outright legalized theft of their property and posssessions. We, as part of Am Yehudi, suffer the utter failure of Israeli governance over that span to provide just and complete restitution to them or provide any solution whatsoever to enable them to pick up and continue their lives. This despite the mandate of so-called “compensation law”, as well as the evolution of the regime’s future plans. Yes, Bibi’s prime ministership is much a regime as Olmert, Sharon and Barak before him. Under Bibi, just as under Olmert, expulsion of more Jews in Yehuda and the Shomron is cloaked in numerous linguistic disguises, i.e. outpost destruction, “two states(sic)”, etc. In addition, on top of the Lebanon conflict and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, our latest blundering regime, in it’s complete failure to see to the security of the people it governs, faces a two-front war which it seems no more competent to win now than it was 3 summers ago or in December and January of 2009.

Yaakov Aveinu says, in explaining to Yosef why his Imma is buried b’derech;

“…I buried her [on the road] by Divine command. In the future my children will go into exile. When they pass Kever Rachel, they will embrace it. She will stand and pray for mercy on their behalf, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, will accept her prayer.” [2]

And Eichah tells;

How Rachel Imeinu recounted to Hashem the circumstances of her Marriage to Yaakov and how she acceded to Yaakov’s prior Marraige to Leah due to Lavan’s trickery and how she spoke to Yaakov on the wedding night so that Yaakov would not hear her sister’s voice and so that her sister Leah would not be shamed. And in this merit, she pleaded with Hashem, “‘You exile my children and [let] their enemies slaughter them and do with them as they pleased?’ At once, the compassion [rachamim] of HaKodosh Borchu was aroused and he said, ‘For Rachel I will return the people of Israel to their place.’” [3]

We beseech Rachel Imeinu from her prominent station in Shemayim, during Chodesh Tammuz, to plead for mercy on our behalf as our times become increasingly perilous; to pray for the speedy liberation, a liberation worthy of HaKadosh Borchu — of Gilad Shalit in Gaza where warfare continues to this very day and for release from incarceration of our brother Jonathan Pollard who literally risked life and limb al Kiddush Hashem for his Jewish brethren. And we beseech Rachel Imeinu to pray for an end to the series of despicable, abjectly corrupt regimes of Israeli governance with all of their corruptions, brown-bag cash, self-affectionation and self-aggrandisement — that of at least 117 knivving Knesset members. We yearn pray for a time of faith-based, Yeirat Shemayim governance and when all Jews will live in and possess all of Eretz Yisrael and when we will again know mutual care and responsibility; one for his brother.

May we be zocha in this coming year that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and kidnapped captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashen and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!


[1] Artscroll, “Stone Chumash”, Parsha Chukat, Perek 19, posuk 1, page 839.

[2] Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, Yishai Chassida, page 485 quoting Pesikta Rabbasi 3:69.

[3] Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, Yishai Chassida, page 485 quoting Pesikta Eichah Rabbasi 24.


Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.