God gives Moshe and Aharon instructions about the red cow, which is needed to purify one who has had contact with a dead body. Moshe draws water from a stone by striking it, instead of speaking to it, as he had been commanded by God. As a result, he will not enter the Promised Land. Miryam and Aharon die; Eleazar, son of Aharon, succeeds him as High Priest. The camp is attacked by serpents and Moses is instructed to place a copper serpent on a high place; those who look at her will be healed. Emorite lands are conquered east of the Jordan River.
Parashat Chukat-Balak contains rich themes to reflect upon. The Para Adumah (Red Heifer), the death of Miriam, the people's complaint about the lack of water and the reaction of Moses and Aaron, with its consequences, the Edomites refusing to let the children of Israel pass through their territory, the death of Aaron on the summit of Mount Hor, Israel defying the king of Arad and destroying his cities, the plague that required a bronze serpent to be appeased, and finally the battle between the kings of Sihon and Og. This is just about the first portion of both- just Chukat. Let’s walk through it.
What a sad parashah...!
A parashah in which there are important farewells and major losses.
The first is the death of Miryam. So it begins. Beyond the loss of Miryam as a leader and a constant adviser to her brothers Moshe and Aharon, since leaving Egypt she always meant to be a source of inspiration both as a head among the women of the people and with their special relationship with water.