Parasha Inspiration – Chukat-Balak

זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה

This is the Decree of the Torah.

This week’s double portion begins with a unique statement in the Torah. This is THE decree. The term used here, chok, is translated in many ways: statute, decree, law, but none of these terms actually conveys the meaning of chok. It means, it is a commandment of Hashem that Hashem does not explain. Hashem says do this and does not tell us why. Chukim appear throughout the Torah. For instance, Hashem simply commands take the Lulav and Etrog. This is a chok, but it is not THE chok.

THE chok of the Torah is the chok of the red heifer. Hashem does not explain any reason for this commandment. Quite honestly, it is a commandment that makes very little sense. It is a commandment that is provided rabbis with enormous amounts of sermon fodder through the centuries, but Hashem himself does not explain. The real question, however, does not involve the meaning of the red heifer as much as why does Hashem command us to do this at all.

Rashi explains that the nations make fun of us for this statute. So if Hashem does not explain the statute to us, what is the reason behind why he commanded us to do it? The answer is fairly simple, Hashem is teaching us about faith.

John 14:15, Yeshua tells us, if you love me keep my commandments. The Aramaic here is interesting. The term used is not mitzvah, it is pakad, the Aramaic term for chok. Yeshua is reiterating that if we love Him, we will keep the commandments that Hashem does not explain. We will keep Yeshua’s chukim. It is only through love of Hashem, love of Yeshua, that we would ever keep a chok. This is not a test of faith, rather, it is an indicator of faith. When we keep a chok, there is no reason other than love of Hashem and love of Yeshua. It is not for our health that we keep a chok, it is not for her safety that we keep a chok, it is not for our aggrandizement that we keep a chok. The only reason for keeping a chok is love.

The great representation of all the chukim is the red heifer. Why should we keep the chok of the red heifer? There is only one reason, love of Hashem and Yeshua. The red heifer is the great indicator of na’aseh v’nishma, we will do and we will hear. This is the oath that we took at Sinai. And the fulfillment of no other commandment demonstrates this as well as the fulfillment of the commandment of the red heifer.

One of the key indicators of the return of Yeshua is the finding of a red heifer that we may perform this Chok. Until we find a red heifer, we may not sanctify Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount. All over the world, the Jewish people are looking for a red hefeir, but as yet, one has not been found that qualifies according to Israel’s understanding of this week’s Torah portion. The search will continue. May we find a red heifer soon and in our days, Amayn.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.