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Chukas

The laws of the Parah Adumah -- the red heifer -- are detailed. These laws of ritual purification are to be used when someone has come into contact with death. After the nation 'wanders' for nearly 40 years in the desert, Miryam passes away and is buried at Kadesh. The people complain about the loss of their water supply which until then has been provided for them miraculously in the merit of Miryam's righteousness. Aharon and Moshe pray for the people's welfare. HaShem commands them to gather the nation at Merivah, and speak to a designated rock so that water will flow forth from it. Distressed by the people's lack of faith, Moshe hits the rock instead of speaking to it. He thus fails to produce the intended public demonstration of HaShem's power over the world which would have resulted if the rock had produced water as a result of him only speaking to it. Therefore, HaShem tells Moshe and Aharon that they will not bring the people into the Land. The Beney Yisrael resume their travels, but because the King of Edom, a descendant of Esav, denies them passage through his country, they do not travel the most direct route to Erets Yisrael.


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