Judaism: The Land of the "Hood": Chukat
Levi ChazenLevi Chazen is the Director of the English Division of Yeshivat HaRa´ayon HaYehudi in Jerusalem. He has been working tirelessly over the years in the yeshiva´s many charitable projects in Jerusalem and nationally.
But Sihon did not permit Israel to pass though his border, and Sihon assembled his entire people and went out against Israel to the wilderness. He arrived at Jahaz and waged war against Israel. Israel smote him with the edge of the sword and took possession of his land."
As the Jewish people were poised to enter the Land of Israel, a new chapter was being written. For we find that since the time of being in Egypt and throughout the forty years of wandering in the desert - all that the Jewish people have gone through has been in the category of miracles.
Whether it was living through the ten plagues that devastated Egypt, or the miraculous escape though the Reed Sea, or how G-d sustained the Jewish people with heavenly food - the "mon" (manna) for forty years. Daily life for the Jews was totally miraculous.
But now, as the Jewish people approached the Land of Israel, all that was about to change. From now on things would work within the realms of this world, though nature. So we find in our parsha, Chukat, that Moshe sends messages to the nation of Edom in order to ask permission for the Jewish people to pass through their countryside peacefully. Instead of relying on miracles, the Jewish people started to work within the system of the natural world and send messengers
Needless to say, in spite of the fact that the Jews were more than willing to pay their own way while in the "host" nation and also promised to purchase food from them and in this way help their economy, still, Jew hatred is Jew hatred, and to let the Jewish people pass by peacefully.
Having no other option, we head around Edom and try again to peacefully walk though the Amorite nation toward the Holy Land. And once again our good neighbors turn us down, even though it would be to their benefit. Not only do they not allow us to pass through, but they gather against us in an act of war. The Jewish people start to pray for salvation, but now that the rules of the game have changed for the Jewish people and they can not rely on miracles anymore, they must gather an army to defend themselves. But here is where G-d Himself kicks into the picture, because once we do all that is in our power to do, G-d will then, and only then, give a helping hand, so to speak.
The cities of the Amorites were many and well secured and fortified. Also, the Amorites were mighty soldiers.
G-d said: Why should I trouble My people to have to attack each and every city, which might take many months. So He placed the idea in the Amorite's heart that they should all gather in one place to fight the Jewish people, leaving behind all of their cities empty. Then after the Jewish people defeated the Amorites, they were able to just walk in and take over all of their cities.
At the time when the Jewish people and its new army saw all of the Amorites gathering for war against them, they were very much afraid - who would not be, as the young army without any experience, witnesses this sight. Still, G-d was in control and brought all this about for the benefit of the Jewish people.
Today, too, as we watch history unfold before our eyes, many in Israel are concerned as the Brother"hood" takes over the controls in Egypt.
Will the peace treaty with Israel become a thing of the past? Certainly more rockets will fall on populated Jewish cities from the Sinai, certainly there will be attacks into Israel from the Sinai (G-d forbid) ;all this will make for a very frightening situation.
Still, we must learn the lesson from this week's parsha, the lesson that we must do all in our power to defend ourselves from the "hood" and know that all that is befalling the world at this time is coming about for our benefit, and to bring the Redemption closer.