Editor Daveed Fakheri 

In this week's Torah portion, water is mentioned 22 times. The focus on ater in Hukkat can inspire us to appreciate this essential resource, and to seek ways to send environmental problems down the drain

This week's Torah portion, Hukkat, can be viewed as a narrative about the Jewish people and water. Water--in Hebrew, mayim--is mentioned 22 times. The portion begins with God's command to mix water with the ashes of a red cow for purification. Next, Miriam dies, and the well which provided the Israelites with water disappears. The Jewish people quarrel with Moses, complaining (Numbers 20:3), "There is no water to drink!" Moses and Aaron strike the rock and God brings forth water.

a summary of the portion
God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the red heifer; Miriam dies; Moses hits a rock to bring forth water rather than speaking to it; Aaron dies.

The World Cow (1913 painting by Franz Marc)

God said to Moses and Aaron, 'Speak to the sons of Israel and find a completely red cow on which there is no blemish and no yoke has ever come. You shall give it to Eleazar, the priest, and he shall take it outside the camp and slaughter it. This cow shall then be made into an offering and those that participate in the sacrifice shall be unclean until the evening.

a summary of the haftarat

A warrior, once shunned, regains his rightful place at the head of the battle.


Haftarat Hukkat tells the story of a man named Jephthah. His father was Gilead, a mighty warrior. His mother was a prostitute--and, for that reason, his half-brothers prevented him from claiming his inheritance, and expelled him from their home. Jepthah flees, ending up in the land of Tob, where he falls in with some outlaws.

Years later, Gilead's tribe is attacked by Ammonites. Fearing for their lives, the men of the tribe who had once shunned him approach Jephthah and request that he lead them in battle.

I got Tefilin

Susan Halimi /England

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