Summary of Parsha Chukas - Balak
Note: The Shabbat Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person "goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: The laws of the Red Heifer, are detailed. In Nissan of the 40th year, Miriam died. The well dried up and the nation gathered against Moshe and Aharon to complain about their thirst.
2nd Aliya: The hitting of the rock occurred and Moshe and Aharon were forbidden to enter into Eretz Yisroel. Edom refused to allow the Jews to travel through their land.
3rd Aliya: Aharon died and Elazar succeeded his father as Kohain Gadol. They encountered the southern Canaanites (13 miles west of the Dead Sea) and bested them in battle. Following Aharon's death the protective clouds departed and the nation began to complain about the living conditions. G-d sent poisonous snakes to attack the nation and Moshe was instructed to create the copper snake on a stick to miraculously save those having been bitten. The nation traveled to Yeshimon northeast of the Dead Sea.
4th Aliya: In the conclusion of Chukas, the nation was refused access to the lands of Sichon and Og and Moshe led them into victorious battle against them. Parshat Balak begins with King Balak's offer to Billam the Prophet to curse the Jewish people and G-d's refusal to allow him to accept.
5th Aliya: Balak sent a second negotiating team and Billam was given permission to go. Along the way the incident with the talking donkey occurred.
6th Aliya: Billam failed his first two attempts at cursing the Bnai Yisroel and blessed them instead.
7th Aliya: Billam attempted his final curse but again blessed the Jews. As he left in disgrace, Billam told the assembled coalition of kings of their eventual destruction by the Jews. As a parting shot against the Jews, he advised Balak to seduce the Jewish men with Midianite women which would bring G-d's wrath down upon the nation. The Parsha concludes with the incident of Baal-Peor and Pinchas's heroism.
This Weeks Haftorah Michah 5:6 - 6:8
Micha prophesized around the year 3200 during the reigns of Achaz and Chikiah. The prophecy in this selection relates to the period prior to the war of Gog and Magog and the coming of Mashiach.
The nations of the world will have assembled against Israel, and the Jews will know that their salvation can only come from G-d. G-d's power will be revealed to everyone and a time of peace and tranquility will envelop humanity. Armies and defenses will no longer be necessary to protect the Jews and the nation's war machinery will be disassembled.
Micha was then commanded to chastise his generation for violating G-d's will, despite all the goodness He had bestowed upon them.
In the final verses of the Haftorah, the prophet tells the nation that true atonement can only be attained through change and action. The ceremonious aspects of devotion, such as sacrifice and prayer, will not accomplish forgiveness. Justice, loving kindness, modesty, humility, and active change are the services that G-d desires.