Because last week we did not study Parashat Chukat this week we will examine both that parashah and the one for this week, Parashat Balak. You will find Parashat Chukat in the book of Numbers 19:1-22:1 and parashat Balak in the Book of Numbers 22:2-25:9.
Chukat deals with issues of water, for purification, for drinking, and as the essential resource for life. The second Parashah, the one read this coming Shabbat Balak, deals with blessings and curses, and tells the famous story of Balaam and his famous talking donkey.
When we read the text in a foreign language such as English we do not see the connection between these two sections. Viewing the text in the original Hebrew, however, provides a very different perspective. The Hebrew text revolves around four words: water, a pool of water, life, and blessing. These four words are not related in English but in Hebrew the reader sees a very clear relationship between them. Water in Hebrew is “mayim;” life is “chayim.” Both words are plural verbal-nouns that indicate motion and consistent change. In a like manner, the Hebrew word for blessing “brachah” is related to the Hebrew word for “pool of water” (brechah). Thus, the Hebrew reader connects the constant flow of water to that of a stream of life and understands that without the physical pool of water (brechah) the spiritual blessings of life (brachah) cannot exist.
In a sense these two sections read together teach us that life has both a material and spiritual side. Both sections deal with the “stated” and the “hidden”, the apparent and the less apparent. Life contains both the tangible and the intangible elements that distinguish it from other forms of existence. These sections remind us that to be successful in life we need to deal with all its aspects, and that life, like water, is an ever-moving stream.
In Hebrew there is no such thing as “a water”. Rather water is composite of many drops. In a like manner no one has a single life, we all have many sides to our lives, each with its own unique set of circumstances. A lesson that these sections teach us then is that what was in our lives is not what will be in our lives, that that successful living comes from the recognition that we all change and must learn how to adapt to these changes.
What is true of people is also true of societies. Societies that do not change, that are stand still, soon die. The way we combine these elements of life helps to determine if we drink from the well of bitter waters or of living waters, waters filled curses or with blessings. Let us hope that we choose to seek the physical blessings of water and the spiritual blessings of life.
Here is my monthly Bryan Eagle philosophy article:
I was interviewed on Nevada’s popular The Ed Bernstein Show. The interview deals with both issues of terrorism and our new Latino-Jewish Relations Center. Watch it below:
Youtubes for the Week: In honor of the Fourth of July: Three Patriotic Songs
Coming to America: Original Version of Neil Dimond:
God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood:
This Land Is Your Land: Interpreted by Peter, Paul, & Mary:
God Bless America: Interpreted by Celine Dion: