Parsha Hukkat

Drash by Sandra Z. Armstrong

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The continuing theme for Hukkat is separation, re-integration, separation and lustration.

Today, we are surrounded by the cleansing, purifying waters of the Pacific, our waters of lustration.

Our thirst for life is always quenched by living on an island surrounded by luscious, sparkling blue/green water and by meeting weekly as a Jewish Community.

We are of a Jewish nation, and as our tradition teaches, separated from other nations, sanctified by God through commandments.

To be holy is to understand that as God separated heaven and earth during the days of creation – we too must continue this creative path of becoming a solid people by adhering to our daily routines of distinguishing between pure/ tahor (טָהוֹר) — clean, pure from impure/tamei (טָמֵא‎).

For purity belongs to Heaven and impure is to be dealt with on earth.

In Hukkat, the point of distraction, as well as distinction is made over and over again-our goal is to be as pure as possible.

Rightly so, Hukkat stands/starts with the impurity of a body at death.

How to address this state of being for those who are still alive? How to clearly separate the pureness of living and the impurity involving death.

During the parsha, the Israelites were separated from water, they suffered greatly from thirst. The need to drink is so great that Moshe humanly strikes the rock without giving credit to HaShem for producing the water. At that very moment, his leadership was changed. He becomes separated from the deliverance of the Israelites into the promised land.

In Hukkat, his sister Miriam dies. She is the one who could draw water from barren wells in the wilderness. She rescued Moshe and placed him in the water among the reeds to save him from destruction.

His brother, Aaron dies and Moshe feels the continual pain and separation of his family dying.

The battles go on-between Edom, the Canaanties in the Negev, the Ammonites led by Sihon their king, to the fires of Heshbon, and onto King Og of Bashan. Some nations will not let them pass through and others just plain attack them. Hukkat tells us that despite the constant warfare, the Israelites succeed.

Moshe, as their leader, has the ability to move forward despite great losses and sorrow. So do the Israelites use this same model to move forward while learning to become a people created in the image of God. Strong, powerful, mighty. They separate from those who couldn’t do it, couldn’t make it spiritually within their nation.

As free people, they gain the identity of a nation who withstands pain, suffering, separations and many disappointments.

But they do something quite miraculous in this parsha, they pull it together and move ahead as HaShem leads them through more dangers with foreign nations.

And where do they end up in Hukkat? They end up at the top of the mountain, closer to the clouds of God’s presence in their midst. They survive and live. They are our people, they are our heritage, they have the spirit to strive for a better world and a better “makon”, place.

Throughout all their future conquests some – “One”  ties their achievements all together.

Zechariah, 4:6 – Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the Lord of Hosts.

It is with My spirit that you will achieve the sanctity of peace, tranquility, blessings and hope into a heavenly future.

In God’s spirit may Congregation Sof Maʻarav continue to succeed, looking back to all our past achievements of the last 50 years, while looking forward at the same time, for they are equally important to all of us. 

As this congregation, in the last 16 months has received the help and guidance needed to succeed and did it well!

Shabbat Shalom

Sandra Z. Armstrong

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