Shabbat Parashat Chukat| 5764
Chukat | | 08/01/2003
Toward the end of the parasha, we find a difficult, poetic portion, which talks about the destruction that occurred in Moavite territory (Bamidbar 21:27-30). The “song” begins with the words, “About this the moshlim said.” We need to understand who these moshlim were and what they were singing about. What connection did it have to Bnei Yisrael (it seems to just talk about the nations of Sichon the Emorite and Moav)? Is it connected to another song mentioned soon before, the Song of the Well (ibid. 17-20) and, if so, how?
Case: A man with the family name, Kagan, is married to a woman who needs a conversion because of questions about her Judaism. The regional court ruled that he must separate himself from his wife even after her conversion because of the prohibition on a kohen to marry a convert. [Ed. note- in the Russian language there is no letter for “h,” which is replaced by the “hard g” sound. Thus, “Kagan” is the Russian pronunciation of “Cohen.”] The man claimed to have been unaware of the concept of kehuna or his having a special status until his appearance in beit din.
A rabbi in an agricultural settlement was not a foregone conclusion in the early years (1933) of Hapoel Hamizrachi (Religious Zionist Workers’ Organization). When I was requested by the people of Kfar Haroeh to serve as their rabbi and I came to them, I found a group of people who were indeed united by the religious pioneer ideal. However, they were separated by their country of origin, customs, and the mode of prayer.