The Torah Portion for this Shabbat is Chukat-Balak

The Torah portion for this week’s Shabbat is the double portion of Chukat and Balak. Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) includes commandments for the ritual of the red heifer, descriptions of the deaths of Miriam and Aaron, and the story of how Moses was commanded to obtain water from a rock by speaking to it but struck it instead. Balak (22:2-25:9) primarily tells the story of how the Moabite King Balak commanded the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Balaam felt compelled┬áto bless them instead (some of his blessing words are now used in the liturgy).

The Haftarah is Micah 5:6-6:8. The passage includes a prophecy of how “the remnant of Jacob” will overcome its enemies, a reminder of the Balak-Balamm story, and the book’s most famous passage: “He has told you what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your G-d” (6:8).

The illustration below of Balaam blessing the Israelites comes from the series of Bible cards published by Providence Lithograph Co. in the early 1900s.