The placement in the Torah of our parsha, Chukat, and the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) raises questions such as why Parah Adumah and its halachot are only mentioned here, after the account of Korach's rebellion and the continued murmuring of the people against Moshe Rabbeinu. The latter resulted in a plague that killed 14,700, and which ended with Aaron's carrying an incense pan amongst the people (upon Moshe's instruction) and with the story of the rods.

Last week, we read of Korach's rebellion. Torah Gems, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, states the following thought from Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P'shis'cha:

The Torah says, "Now took Korach..." Korach was blessed with many positive attributes - fine lineage, wealth (albeit ill-gotten and questionable), wisdom - and thus, he might have been worthy of being a leader of B'nai Yisrael. "'Now took Korach...' He took himself. He did not wait until he was offered the leadership, but he sought to take it by force. That is why he is not worthy of it." (Torah Gems, Volume 3, page 79) It seems that Korach used the above attributes for evil, attempting to deceive the people and to seize power and influence from Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron HaKohen.

Perhaps the history of contemporary political leadership parallels the worst of Korach?

"Rabbi Artscroll" presents one answer to the question of placement in a commentary in The Stone Chumash on the words at the beginning of our parsha, "...el Moshe, v'el Aaron." The commentary speaks of the symbolism of the cow (the Red Heifer) coming to atone for the sin of the calf (the Golden Calf), " if to say, let the mother come and clean up the mess left by her child...."

Back in Philadelphia, in the "Old Country", Rabbi Moshe Ungar would render the phenomenon of the Parah Adumah as a tikkun given B'nai Yisrael after the Eigel HaZahav (Golden Calf) incident, as an eternal rectification of the tumah, the defilement of the Eigel HaZahav. In other words, the tikkun, only later revealed in parshat Chukat, tells us that, like a doctor treating an ill patient, the remedy for illness generally precedes the illness itself. The means for rectification of a sin precedes the sin itself.

And here is where Rachel Imeinu comes in. We today suffer in Eretz Yisrael the evolution, over the past year and a half, of evil plans for and events in Gush Katif and the Shomron. Particularly appalling are the events of the past week and a half, as well as the prospect, as we approach the period before Tisha B'av, chas v'chalila, of possible "Disengagement", or in more stark terminology, expulsion, Judenrein, and more. In this context, we hearken back to Rachel Imeinu's role and why she was buried by Yaakov Avinu"b'derech Beit Lechem" ("on the road to Bethlehem").

Yaakov Avinu says, in explaining to his son Yosef why his mother is buried b'derech, "I buried her [on the road] by Divine command. In the future, my children will go into exile. When they pass Rachel's tomb, they will embrace it. She will stand and pray for mercy on their behalf, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, will accept her prayer." (Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, Yishai Chassida, page 485, quoting Pesikta Rabbasi 3:69)

And Eichah tells us how Rachel Imeinu recounted to HaShem the circumstances of her marriage to Yaakov, and how she acceded to Yaakov's prior marriage to Leah due to Lavan's trickery, and how she spoke to Yaakov on the wedding night so that Yaakov would not hear her sister's voice and so that her sister Leah would not be shamed. And in this merit, she pleaded with HaShem, "'You exile my children and [let] their enemies slaughter them and do with them as they please?' At once, the compassion [rachamim] of HaKodosh Boruch Hu was aroused and He said, 'For Rachel I will return the people of Israel to their place.'" (Pesikta Eichah Rabbasi 24)

B'ezrat HaShem, in this week of parshat Chukat and in the merit of the unity of all believing and thoughtful Jews, in the merit of the great mission of outreach undertaken by Rachel's Childrens Reclamation Foundation and in the merit of the Sefer Torah being dedicated at Rachel's Tomb this Thursday by Dr. Lee Caplan - who, with his wife Mindy and their family, has dedicated this Sefer Torah in memory of his dad, Reuven Shlomo ben Yeshayahu - we beseech our Ima Rachel to plead for us, to beseech HaShem yet again for your children, B'nai Yisrael, that HaShem yet again "return the people of Israel to their place," to their divine legacy, to His exclusive service.

B'ezrat HaShem, may it be that, come this Rosh Hashanah, we are able to give thanks to HaShem for the Ge'ulah Shleimah and for keeping our brethren in Gush Katif and in the Shomron in their homes and neighborhoods, away from the horror and Chillul HaShem of expulsion. And may we soon see freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael for Jonathan Pollard.

May we see the "Yom HaShem Al Kol HaGoyim" now, achshav, chik-chak, miyad, etmol!