Heroes and Humans

Heroes and Humans

Jun 18, 2021 By Amy Kalmanofsky | Commentary | Hukkat

One of the things I love most about the Bible is that it presents humans, not heroes. Even the Bible’s greatest figures have virtues and vices.

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Taking the Long View: Lessons of Leadership

Taking the Long View: Lessons of Leadership

Jul 3, 2020 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Balak | Hukkat

The iconic story in our parashah of Moses striking the rock to bring forth water for the People of Israel is often framed as a morality tale, the consequence of a toxic—and disastrous—combination of unchecked rage and faltering faith. Indeed, God doles out the harshest possible punishment to Moses for flouting God’s directive to speak to the rock, in full display of the congregation: “Since you did not have faith in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly to the Land which I have given them” (Num. 20: 12).

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Handling Our Anger

Handling Our Anger

Jul 12, 2019 By Abigail Uhrman | Commentary | Hukkat

Among the many stories in Parashat Hukkat, perhaps the most discussed is when Moses, in response the Israelites’ grievances, is instructed by God to “order the rock to yield its water.” Moses, instead, strikes the rock twice with his rod. Water comes forth, but God rebukes Moses for disobeying his instructions: “Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm my sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, there you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them” (Num. 20:2–13).

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Israel’s Heroic and Traumatic Journey

Israel’s Heroic and Traumatic Journey

Jun 22, 2018 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Hukkat

For 39 years the children of Israel had been making their perilous way through the desert. At long last, on the first new moon of their 40th year, they set out on the last leg of the journey, as it is written, “The Israelites, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin” (Num. 20:1). The road ahead was by no means assured, however, for no sooner did they arrive there than Miriam died, followed shortly thereafter by her brother Aaron, with Moses, the third member of this incomparable first family, mere days away from losing favor with God. The people were still reeling from Korah’s revolt, which had just claimed the lives of 15,000 rebels. Who would stand between the living and the dead were another plague to descend upon them?

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My Brother’s [and Sister’s] Keeper

My Brother’s [and Sister’s] Keeper

Jun 30, 2017 By Sarah Tauber (<em>z”l</em>) | Commentary | Hukkat

The literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being—mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction—are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters. In one Swedish study, satisfaction with sibling contact in one’s 80s was closely correlated with health and positive mood—more so than was satisfaction with friendships or relationships with adult children. And loneliness was eased for older people in a supportive relationship with their siblings, no matter whether they gave or got support.

—Robin Marantz Henig, “Your Adult Siblings May Be The Secret To A Long, Happy Life,” NPR (website), November 2014

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Striking Out or Stepping Up: A Leadership Model for Our Times

Striking Out or Stepping Up: A Leadership Model for Our Times

Jun 30, 2017 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Hukkat

“Moses entered the stage of Jewish history by striking (the Egyptian) and exited from the stage of Jewish history by striking (the rock).” This startling observation by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in his commentary on the Book of Numbers (Torah Lights: Bemidbar, 169) causes us to reflect deeply on the subject of Jewish leadership.

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Come and Knock on a Rock

Come and Knock on a Rock

Jul 15, 2016 By Jonathan Lerner | Commentary | Hukkat

John Ritter was ready for a change. “At the beginning of the seventh season [of Three’s Company], the stuff about the three of us scrambling around for rent money was starting to get repetitive. . . . They had an episode about hiding a dog from Mr. Roper in the beginning [during season one] and then they had one about hiding a cat from Mr. Furley near the end [during season eight]. . . . That’s when I knew it was time to move on.”

Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three’s Company, by Chris Mann 

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Courses of Grief

Courses of Grief

Jul 15, 2016 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Hukkat

Bereft, I combed through the grass in Central Park at dusk when I realized I had lost my late husband’s house keys. Yes, on some level, I knew it wasn’t about the keys. His sudden death two months earlier had devastated me in much more profound ways. And yet, I felt desperate to find those keys!

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Both Sides of Forgiveness

Both Sides of Forgiveness

Jul 2, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Hukkat

This far into Numbers, we are inured to the Israelites’ complaints. The complaint of Numbers 21 takes place in five quick verses and stands out more for the unusual bit about the snakes than it does for the fact or content of the Israelites’ gripe.

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Words Are Sacred

Words Are Sacred

Jul 12, 2003 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Balak | Hukkat

Words are sacred. I remember the sanctity of words being inculcated in me as a high school student. My history teacher, Mr. Reilly, an admired, knowledgeable and articulate pedagogue (not to even mention his black belt in karate), instilled within us the fear of God with regard to proper attribution of words. His definition of plagiarism was ‘two or more words copied and unattributed.’ I remember being shocked by this Puritan definition, but it also instilled a respect for the written word. So valued are words that numerous violations, in addition to plagiarism, are attributed to their misuse. On occasions, words are distorted – in transmission, either knowingly or unknowingly; such distortion leads to the promulgation of lies and deception. And words are used to hurt – to curse, to destroy, and to instigate.

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