This week’s parshah at Temple Beth Israel is Chukat. I know, I know. I’m confused, but I’m participating in the Gesher service there and that’s what we’re doing.
So I was reading up about it and it’s a bit of a power-parshah. It’s got
- the death of Miriam
- the red heifer (By the way, I recommend to anyone Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union if you’re interested in chewing the cud about that.)
- the whinging Am Yisroel: “Why did you make us leave Egypt to die in the wilderness and complaints about the miserable food (see Woody Allen on this — Two elderly women at a Catskill Mountain resort: “Wow, the food at this place is really terrible. The other says: “Yeah, I know, and such small portions.”
- Moses striking, instead of calling to, the rock that then gushes water.
- the bit about the seraph snakes and the miraculous healing seraph figure
- the death of Aaron.
But I’m thinking of the penalty for disobedience: being prevented from entering the Promised Land. The thing is: there doesn’t need to be a reason. We will all be prevented from entering the Promised Land at some point.
I was an activist in New York for many years, working in local politics, in democratic socialist politics and more. Then I moved to Australia and miss out on lots of efforts coming to fruition.
Will I make it to my daughter’s chuppah (if she choses that)? To know her children? That to me is the Promised Land. But, m’irtz Hashem I get there, surely the Promised Land will be her children’s chuppah.
There is always some future point we yearn for and to which we will not arrive. Not because we’ve done wrong or not had faith. It’s just the nature of being mortal.