Parshat Chukat 2018
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And He shall See the Copper Snake and Live
“Cure us HaShem and we shall be cured…” The prophet Malachi (3, 20) teaches us that a cure to maladies lies with the light of the sun. Spiritually speaking this means that through the “illumination” of the Holy Presence on one’s soul, one is able to expel the spiritual darkness that brought about a sickness in the first place. In this way, the Land of Israel, Land of the Holy Presence’s illumination, is the cure both for our People’s national and individual maladies.
This week’s parsha describes, for the first time, the events of the generation that indeed merited to enter the Land of Israel after 40 years in the wilderness. One of these events is the incident of the biting snakes after the People’s complaint to Moshe. In response to this, Moshe Rabeinu is commanded to place a snake on a staff, which will cause the People to look to the heavens and then be cured. Our Sages explain (Mishna Rosh HaShana ch. 3) that the snake in of itself has no curative ability. Rather, it is the People’s gaze at the heavens, when looking at this snake, that causes the People to believe that the “biting snakes” have been brought upon them through Heavenly Providence, and it this belief in God and this reception of the “yoke of Heaven” that cures them and removes the threat of the “biting snakes” from them.
It seems that this incident prepares the People about to enter the Holy Land for the type of speculation needed for events especially in the Holy Land of Divine Providence. We should remember that the “snake” first appears in the Torah in context of the first sin of Adam and Hava. In this way, the image of the snake in many of our sources is associated with the powers of evil. Nevertheless, it seems that the Torah wishes to teach us that even when we are confronted with the powers of evil, we should remember that even there the Divine Providence is acting to awaken us to concentrate on HaShem’s Providence, taking on the “yoke of Heaven” and searching our ways to find what HaShem is “communicating” to us through the trials and tribulations that evil forces press upon us.
In this way, Hebron, which means “connection” illuminates our souls with the light of the Holy Land, reminding us that whatever we confront, as difficult as it may be – let us raise our eyes to the Heavens to “connect” to HaShem and remember that HaShem is “connecting” and “communicating” with us, to cure us with His mercy.
Rabbi Eliezer Archa was one of the great rabbis of Hebron. Rabbi David Konfurti describes him: “the excellent rabbi and the excellent doctor.” The Hida saw one of the 50 Torah manuscripts Rabbi Archa wrote. It seems that in 5394 (1634) Rabbi Archa held the position as the chief rabbi of Hebron. He passed away in 5410 (1650) and is buried in the same cave as Rabbi Avraham Azulai in the Ancient Cemetery of Hebron.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #269
One night our son fell from our bed and started to vomit, so we took him to the doctor who said that he had an ear infection. This seemed improbable especially since he had no fever. The next day he vomited again in his class, so out of alarm at these unexplainable events we took him to the hospital. When we reached the hospital, we were told that our son actually had a cyst in his brain for which he needed emergency surgery, and if we had not come just at that time because of this seemingly minor issue, he would have been at serious risk…”
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 123.
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