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July 24, 2017

Hukat (The Statute) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Hukat Parsha

Numbers 19:1-22:1
This Week’s Torah Portion | June 25 – July 01, 2017 – 1 Tammuz – 7 Tammuz, 5777

In A Nutshell

The portion, Hukat (The Statute), deals with Israel’s continuing journey, with the Mitzva (commandment) of the red cow (heifer), the laws of the impurity of the dead, and the episode known as Mei Meriva (waters of Meribah [Heb: quarrelling]). In the episode, the children of Israel complain about the lack of water, and the Creator commands Moses to speak to the rock. However, instead of speaking, he strikes the rock. Moses and Aaron are punished for this act by being banned from entering the land of Israel. The people of Israel reach the land of Edom, and the king of Edom forbids them to pass through his territory.

Aaron dies, and Elazar, his son, succeeds him as the high priest. The people of Israel continue to complain about the difficulties along the way, and the Creator sends snakes to bite the people. Moses makes a copper snake and shows it to the people, and anyone who sees the copper snake is healed.

The people of Israel reach the boundary of the land of Moab and sing “the song of the well.” The people fight Sihon, King of the Amorites, and Og, King of the Bashan. Israel wins and inherits their land.

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Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This story details the primary correction in the corrections of the souls. Because our souls are initially the desire to receive, to enjoy, in order to correct it we must invert the intention of that desire toward bestowal. We must correct our souls to have the aim to bestow, to love others, by which will resemble the Creator. This will endow Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator—which is the purpose of creation—to each and everyone in the nation. This is why we need to mingle and become integrated with the force of bestowal, called Bina, and with the force of reception, called Malchut.

Connecting the two forces—the two Sefirot just mentioned—results in four options: Malchut in MalchutMalchut in BinaBina in Bina, and Bina in Malchut. When Bina is inside Malchut, it is the evil force because Malchut governs Bina, and when that happens, all the evil forces emerge.

While these forces may occasionally appear as good, they appear so only to lure and entice a person, leading toward the evil. It is a special Klipa (shell/peel), cunning and shrewd, which is in Malchut. This is how Malchut acquires Bina and uses it. This is also why it was said that evil can exist in the world only if it initially appears as good.

At first, the only forces that exist in man are the still, vegetative, and animate, meaning Malchut at the degree of still, vegetative, and animate. This is a straightforward will to receive. A person who possesses the power of Bina within the will to receive becomes very clever and very shrewd. Such a person knows how to appear as giving to others, as serving them, while in fact that person takes from others and uses them as much as possible. This is how the negative forces operate when the force of bestowal is “taken captive” by the force of reception.

Conversely, when we raise Malchut to Bina and become included in it—when we want to permeate Bina and be there as servants, as an embryo inside its mother’s womb—Bina is called “upper Ima (mother).” At that time we want to develop only by integration, by being dominated by the power of bestowal, under the “protection” of the power of the Creator. These are the good forces, which gradually take bits of the egoistic desire and correct them.

The portion, Hukat, begins with the red cow, which corrects some of the desires and corrupts others. It is that pendulum between Bina and Malchut that purifies the impure and defiles the pure. That topic is scrutinized all through the portion on different levels, such as the ashes of the cow, the well, and the pit.

The pit is dry, absorbing everything but remaining completely empty. On the other hand, a well is full of water. This compares to Bina in Malchut and Malchut in Bina. If the well is empty, it is Malchut. If there is water in the well, it is the right kind of integration. And when Malchut ascends to BinaMalchut’s deficiency rises to Bina, to heaven, and brings down water from heaven, which is the rain.

Afterwards the serpent is mentioned. The serpent isn’t just the will to receive; it is a person in whom there is integration of Bina, opposite which there is the copper serpent.

In the story of the waters of quarrelling (Meribah), there is the rock, the ground. If a person is integrated in Malchut, and speaks with it at the level of the desert (the level of Bina), that person elicits water out of it. Conversely, one who strikes elicits waters of quarrelling. This water is called “waters of Gevurot,” which is dominated by Malchut. Hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis share the same root as the forces dominated by Malchut.

As for the red cow, the text does not relate to any corporeal cow whatsoever. The word Adumah (“red,” in the feminine) comes from the word Edom, meaning connected to the Adamah (earth). The cow symbolizes the power of Bina, giving milk, which is one of the symbols of the festival of Shavuot, on which we eat dairy products. It is a symbol of the power of giving.

However, when connected to MalchutEdom, she has the powers of the mingling with Malchut opposite the power of Bina. When the force of bestowal and the force of reception—Bina and Malchut—are together, everything depends on the individual. If a person wishes to be corrected, to achieve bestowal, then specifically by combining these forces, a combination known as the “red cow,” a person elicits the force of bestowal and becomes purified.

Conversely, if that person was pure, the mingling of Bina and Malchut has the opposite effect. We need to understand that this opposite form is only a person’s discovery that he or she is on a good degree. That is, a person discovers an additional desire, with which one cannot work.

The Meaning of the Acts of Purification

These are rituals, a sort of idol-worship. It is not that simple to find a red cow, burn it, and then deal with the whole business with its ashes. It doesn’t exist in our world, but we are still looking.

It is said that in the past there was indeed a red cow, at the time of the Temple, when the whole nation was on a spiritual degree using the wisdom of Kabbalah. It is written, “They checked from Dan to Beer Sheba and no ignoramus [uncorrected person] was found from Gevat to Antipris, and no boy or girl, man or woman was found who was not thoroughly versed in the laws of purity and impurity [corrections according to Moses’ law].”[1] That is, the laws of impurity and purity (Tuma’a and Taharah, respectively) explain precisely what it means to work in order to receive and what it means to work in order to bestow with all the desires, all the problems, and all the communications with everyone and with Godliness.

In the past, the majority of people achieved complete attainment, except for a few, as we know from history about the quarrels that took place even at the time of the First Temple. The people who attained a spiritual degree knew the laws of impurity and a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.kabbalahblog.info/2013/06/glossary-hukat-the-statute-weekly-torah-portion/#purity”>purity; they were at the level of connection of Bina and Malchut, a level known as “red cow (heifer).”

The Torah details an order of correction, instructions on how to correct the soul. These people lived by it and corrected themselves from the state of “Egypt” to the state of “reception of the Torah,” going through the “desert” and into the “land of Israel,” names that represent spiritual degrees.

Why Israel Could NotPass Through Edom, Even though It Is Bina

The red cow is Bina. The land of Edom is the connection between Bina and Malchut as it should be according to the degrees. The king of Edom is a desire that sits within us. Even though the people of Israel wish to go through the land of Edom, they must first enter through the Klipa (shell/peel) that is in Edom—the king of Edom. They must go through the mingling of Malchut and Bina on the degree of Edom. That Klipa does not let them through. The passage depends on correction—either they go around Edom or they fight and go through it.

Moses, the greatest of the prophets, leads the nation. He is man’s most sublime quality, and it seems as though he is not doing what the Creator told him.

In fact, it is not that he is disobeys the Creator. Rather, there is the nation, meaning individual desires, there is Moses, and there is a possibility to absorb “waters of Bina” by raising Malchut (the will to receive) to Bina. In the state of the people at the time, Moses could not muster the strength to rise and draw all of his desires that are called “people” or “nation” to the level of Bina. Thus, instead of climbing a degree and speaking and acting there, he acts on the degree of performing actions. This was his transgression.

Why Does It Seem as Though He Was Punished?

All the punishments in the Torah are corrections. Although it is clear that one must attain the level of speaking—a level of connection between Malchut and Bina that is simpler, shorter, and more correct—a person cannot find another manner of correction, but performs it in actual fact. It is similar to Moses using his staff.

Is it like an experiment, where we are given the tools to carry out a task, yet we must fail.

Indeed we have to fail. Although it seems as though we are punished in our corrections, in truth, there are no punishments.

But when Moses wished to enter the land of Israel he was refused.

Of course he was refused. The land of Israel is not the degree of Moses. Moses is “the faithful shepherd,” whose highest degree is Bina. There needs to be an upgrade here, which must be performed by his followers, those who are not from the generation of the desert, such as Joshua.

They Journeyed from Mountain to Mountain

“And Israel journeyed … and they went after the slant-serpent that was ruling in the land of Edom.”

Zohar for All, New Zohar, Hukat (The Statute), item 3

“Slant” means that it keeps twisting and walking ahead of a person so it is impossible to discern what is good about it and what is bad.

They seemingly “detoured” the mountain. In truth, they could not climb the mountain—the thoughts along the way, the doubts in the faith, in the attainment of mutual bestowal and unity. And because they were unable to attain, they “went around” that situation. On the one hand it is not the right way, but on the other hand, if they do not circumvent the mountain, they cannot go above it. For now, this is the way—by the hardening of the heart. The correction is always done on an egoistic desire that is very hard to cope with, but after which one obtains abundance.

They Journeyed from Mountain to Mountain

“They complained about everything—about the oral Torah, the written Torah … for there is no bread, oral Torah, and no water, written Torah, and the words of the oral Torah were trivial in their eyes.”

Zohar for All, New Zohar, Hukat (The Statute), item 3

“Trivial” means that the oral Torah was not very important. This was the problem, since the oral Torah comes to us from above, from the degree of Zeir Anpin, while the written Torah is in Malchut. This creates a disconnect between Zeir Anpin and Bina for reception, to receive the quality of bestowal. Also, it is clear that they did not have the strength, and therefore went around Mount Horeb.

Concerning the serpents, we know the story of the serpent and Adam, and the story from The Book of Zohar about the snake that bites the doe and retreats. However, the portion before us presents another aspect: a copper serpent that heals anyone who sees it.

We cure the flaws in us, our egos, according to the way we connect to the serpent, by how we look at it and take from it the strength we want. It is the will to receive that we can extract for our Kelim (vessels), and the desire to bestow for our intentions, by which we are corrected.

Our advancement is according to our egos, through forms of serpents—a slant serpent or a copper serpent—turning all those desires that currently hide within us and are initially cruel and cunning, in order to receive—from Adam’s first serpent—into desires with the aim to bestow.

As then so now, there is nothing worse than the snake, the venom, the destructive force. We must turn the power of the serpent into a healing force, just as in the symbol of medicine, because the healing comes from the same place. It is all a question of approach: if one knows how to use that force correctly, it is a healing force; if one does not know how to use it correctly, it is a potion of death.

The Serpent as a Messenger of the Creator

The serpent is our will to receive, which comes from the Creator. The Torah, which is called “the potion of life,” as well as “the potion of death,” also comes from the Creator. In our means, in our desire, intentions, in every thing and in every detail there is good, as well as bad, and we can use them for better or for worse.

It is written that everyone loved Aaron, even more than they loved Moses. What is the quality of Aaron within us, and what does it mean that something dies?

Priests are on the degree of actions; they are the power within us that performs the corrections de facto. Moses is the only force that connects to the upper one, to the next degree, to Godliness, while Aaron prepares the actions and carries them out. This is why his whole work is the Temple.

What about his son, who was appointed after him, is it hereditary?

These are two degrees, just as in our world there is a custom that the father inherits everything to the son. It is likewise in kingship, and even in biology, in genes.

It seems as though the story repeats itself—there is a will to receive that needs correction. It needs to receive light and turn from reception to bestowal. Why then are there all those subtle differences, as though each portion is a different story altogether?

Indeed the only thing that was created is the will to receive. That desire is used egoistically, and the Torah depicts its process of correction. The will to receive contains 613 “sub-desires,” all of which must be shifted from being used egoistically into being used altruistically—for the sake of others, to love of others. This is called “observing 613 Mitzvot (commandments).” The whole Torah consists of instructions by which to receive light in these corrected desires, a light called “Torah,” or “the revelation of Godliness.”

Therefore, these are not subtle differences, but consecutive degrees, appearing one at a time in a manner of cause and consequence. At each stage we correct all 613 desires from “In the beginning” to “In the eyes of all Israel,” the final words in the Pentateuch. Only when we achieve it do we actually become Israel—Yashar El (straight to God).


[1] [1] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Sanhedrin, p 94b.

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