Is Chur an Ideal Role-Model?

The CEO of Torah MiTzion (The Zionist Kollels) asks in a weekly Parsha article: Why do we not hear much about Chur? Should we?

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Zeev Schwartz,

Zeev Schwartz
Zeev Schwartz

One of the most unknown personalities in the Torah is that of Chur. Many people,upon seeing the title of this article,  would proably ask "Who is Chur? In what role or context does he appear?" Some people would definitely remember him always being together with Aharon. However, he then somehow disappears from the Torah.

The question is why?

We do know that Chur was the son of Miriam the Prophetess and Caleb ben Yefuneh (Divrei Hayamim A 2:19). Initially, he appears from nowhere during the war against Amalek.

"…and Moshe, Aharon and Chur went up to the top of the hill …and Aharon and Chur supported his hands …"(Shemot 17 :10-12)

The next time we hear about Chur is when Moshe was about to ascend Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Knowing that he would be gone for 40 days, he appointed Aharon and Chur to help him "… whoever has a need will approach them." (Shemot 24:14)

What happened next is resounded as one of the most dramatic milestones in Jewish history – the sin of the Golden Calf. In Rashi's commentary to the passuk (Shemot 36:6) "and the nation sat down to eat, and they drank and got up to have fun", he explains that there were acts of adultery and bloodshed and it was here that Chur was killed.

The only other mention of Chur was in relation to the building of the Mishkan by his gifted grandson, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur.

The 'unknown' is so intriguing. How is it that the Torah can go on without any mention of what really happened on the 16th of Tammuz when one of Am Israel's high command was lynched; a leading prophet and definite heir to the throne,being a part of the tribe of Judah.

We can easily portray the personality of Chur. He was the son of parents known for their devotion and faith. They had the ability to stand up for what they believed ignoring the masses or the popularity of a current trend.

HIs mother was Miriam, who by persuading her parents to carry on being together, despite Pharoah's harsh decrees, caused Moshe to be brought into the world.

Caleb, his father, stood out as the spy who did not betray his mission and, very rightfully, inherited Hevron. Chur must have absorbed these traits from home. So when he was on duty, it was only obvious that he would behave in a similar manner. He was devout and determined even if it would cost him his life. He braved the frenzied crowd and fought to prevent the formation of the Golden Calf.

However, there are more questions which remain unanswered. Were Chur's actions seen in a positive light despite the personal sacrifice? Where was Miriam? Was he mourned? Why did Aharon act completely differently by taking an active part in the formation of the Golden Calf? When Aharon's two sons, Nadav and Avihu, were killed for unlawful actions in the Mishkan, he remained silent. Was this the same silence that we see in the story of Chur during the formation of the Golden Calf? Did Moshe break the Tablets because of the Golden Calf or also because he saw what had happened to Chur?

Rav Yuval Cherlow in an article "Is a compromise in heavenly matters possible?" (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs volume 12, no's 3&4 fall 5761 -2000) explains Aharon's actions based on a Gemara in Sanhedrin 7a ". Says Rav Binyamin Bar Yefet , says Rabbi Elazar:  Aharon saw Chur slaughtered in front of him; if I don't heed to their demands , they'll kill me just as they killed  Chur ….and then the stringent law will be fulfilled,  since if they kill a Kohen ( Aharon) and a prophet ( Chur ), they'll never be forgiven. It's best that I join them in the making of the Calf, at least for that sin they'll be allowed to do Teshuva. "

Based on this remarkable account of on the spot decision making, we can see the merit in Aharon's actions and possibly understand why Chur was killed.

Are Chur's actions glorified like that of his fellow tribe member Nachshon ben Amindav who jumped first into the Reed Sea, causing it to split? Or that of Pinchas who was highly commended for his behavior when killing Zimri and Cozbi bat Tzur?

In an article I read by Chananel Weber, (weekly parshat shavua newsletter Shabbaton –Ki Tisa 5769), he actually criticizes Chur's behavior for acting independently and breaking the bond between "Aharon and Chur" (any mention of Chur was only together with Aharon –as seen in Shemot ). Accordingly, he says, Chur was intentionally not recognized and even hidden in the Torah as a critique, but one  which led to the future separation in Israel. This allowed Yehoshua ( from the tribe of Ephrayim) to lead and not Chur (from the tribe of Judah) when the tribes split into two states.

Split second decisions have been commended throughout history: Nachshon, Pinchas, modern day heros who have sacrificed their lives to save others; Roi Klein as an astounding example. Does Chur the son of Miriam and Caleb, the grandfather of Betzalel, the prophet and leader of Am Israel, not deserve to be recognized for his devotion, determination and bravery?