WWOT: Weekly Words of Torah – Parashat Chukkat 5779

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

Parashat Chukkat begins with a discussion of the laws related to the Red Heifer, the Maftir portion read on Shabbat Parah. Parashat Chukkat continues with a discussion about rituals and laws about purification. Miriam and Aaron die. The children of Israel complain about not having water. As a result, God tells Moses to talk to the rock and, instead, Moses hits the rock, and water comes out. During their journey, the Children of Israel come into conflict with the King of Edom, who does not want the Children of Israel to pass through his land. There are recounts of battles the children of Israel had with the Cannanites, Amorites, and Og, the King of Bashan.

The Chesed idea related to Parashat Chukkat is the concept of water conservation. A legend states that, when Miriam was present, there was a well, which sprang up with water. This was a way that she was rewarded for watching her brother Moses when he was placed in a basket in the Nile River. Once Miriam died, the well vanished, and the children of Israel no longer had water, and they complained. Judaism teaches us that we are stewards of the planet Earth, “to work it and protect it” (Genesis 2:15). This Shabbat, in relation to Miriam’s death, and the well of water that sprang up whenever Miriam was present, let us each strive to do an act of chesed, kindness, to help conserve water. For example, we can all take shorter showers, or turn the water off when we brush our teeth. Do not see the use of a dishwasher as lazy, or a luxury: it actually is a way to conserve water. Washing dishes by hand uses more water than running a dishwasher. It has been estimated that an efficient dishwasher uses half as much water, saving close to 5,000 gallons of water a year. Check leaks in your faucets in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, utility rooms, and also toilets. Anywhere there are faucets, pipes, or hoses, there could be a leak, and repairing the leaks equals conserving water.

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Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here, and stay up-to-date with the latest WWOT theme, Chesed, here.