Below is a collection of Parashat Hukkat resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: Has it ever happened to you that a trip you were taking took longer than expected and you became tired of the travel? Or a task took longer and was more complicated than expected? What helps you deal with this kind of frustration? Parashat Hukkat describes the despair of the Israelites as their journey in the desert is made longer by the refusal of the King of Edom to pass through their land -now the journey will be longer! They begin to complain about the “man” they have received every day and God punishes them.
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 21:4-6):
וַיִּסְעוּ מֵהֹר הָהָר דֶּרֶךְ יַם סוּף לִסְבֹּב אֶת אֶרֶץ אֱדוֹם וַתִּקְצַר נֶפֶשׁ הָעָם בַּדָּרֶךְ:
וַיְדַבֵּר הָעָם בֵּאלֹקים וּבְמשֶׁה לָמָה הֶעֱלִיתֻנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּי אֵין לֶחֶם וְאֵין מַיִם וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ קָצָה בַּלֶּחֶם הַקְּלֹקֵל:
יְשַׁלַּח ה’ בָּעָם אֵת הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים וַיְנַשְּׁכוּ אֶת הָעָם וַיָּמָת עַם רָב מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל
They set out from Mount Hor by way of the Sea of Reeds to skirt the land of Edom. But the people grew restive on the journey, and the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread and no water, and we have come to loathe this miserable food.” God sent serpents against the people. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died.
Question #2: In this parasha, we learn about the sin and punishment of Moses. When there is no water to drink, the people complain bitterly to Moses, and God tells Moses to take his staff and speak to a rock, and water will flow from it. Instead, Moses speaks angrily to the people and hits the rock. As a consequence of this sin, Moses is told that he will not enter the Holy Land (the Land of Israel). Do we expect more of our leaders than we expect of average people? Should leaders be held to a higher standard? Why or why not?
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 20:12):
וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל משֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן יַעַן לֹא הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם בִּי לְהַקְדִּישֵׁנִי לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָכֵן לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לָהֶם – But God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.”
Question #3: As the Israelites pass by the southern border of the Promised Land they are attacked by the king of Arad who takes some people captive. The Israelites vow vengeance and take it soon afterward. The Torah earlier warned against vengeance, and the Rabbis spare few words in describing the damage that vengeance does to us. Are there certain types of vengeance that are OK but others that aren’t? What does vengeance, even if justified, do to us as people?
Question #4: In a famous ironic twist, while the person for whom the Red Heifer is prepared is purified by it, everyone involved in its preparation becomes impure (albeit to a lesser extent). It could be argued that everyone who helps others needs to sacrifice some of themselves for the benefit of those they are helping. This is true for friends, parents, teachers, medical professionals, and more. How do we know when the sacrifice is too much? At what point are the givers allowed to say that they need time or energy for themselves? Do we resent the givers who pull back to take care of themselves?