|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 to 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.