Fair-weather believers seem to be the underlying narrative in the B’Midbar parshot, from the pusillanimous ten spies to the blasphemous insurrection of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and on to
the bitter waters of Meribah and more rebellion near Ma’im Suf, The Sea of Reeds. Will these wavering Children of Israel, clearly not yet Am Yisrael, ever stop complaining?
Just in the nick of time, the concept of Chukkat, also the title of this week’s parashah underscores not only the supremacy (and mercy) of the God of Israel, it also emphasises the comprehensiveness of all the commandments. Some are blatantly reasonable, rational and understandable, Mishpatim, but others, Chukkat, require leaps of faith and moral exactitude on a much higher, esoteric plain.
We do not understand the prohibition against mixing seeds together or of wearing cloth of mixed wool and linen or, in this week’s parsha, the rules regarding the Red Heifer. We obey them because God says so. End of argument? Not really. Nothing in Torah is that simple.
There is a rationale here. These laws are concerned with a higher morality, with life, not death and regulate one’s less apparent emotional states. These laws, as in the case of the Red Heifer and others, often appear before the narrative event explaining how to act in particular circumstances. Considering, too, that Chukkat tells of the deaths of Miriam and Aaron and its impact on Moses, the need for ‘higher guidance, is exactly what is needed.
To find out more, we are very fortunate this week to have the professional advice of Rabbi Amanda Golby who will be leading our services. Please make every effort to come so that we cannot only learn and celebrate Shabbat together, but also, give Rabbi Golby a warm, Cornish welcome.