Parshas Chukas – The Leader of Israel

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

Both Moses and the Jews are involved in sending emissaries to gentile nations, asking them to allow the Jews passage towards the Promised Land. However, Scripture sometimes refers to Moses as the delegator of these emissaries, while at other times,  it refers to the Jews themselves.


“Moses is Israel and Israel are Moses. For the leader of the generation is like the entire generation; the leader is everything.”


  1. What does Rashi mean? How can Moses and the Jews be one and the same?
  2. What is meant by the addition, “the leader is everything,” that is not already understood from the previous words?


To solve the aforementioned inconsistencies in these Torah passages, Rashi draws the conclusion that Moses and the Jews are each other. But how could that be? For this Rashi adds explanation: Moses is the leader etc., which can be understood as follows.

The leader (Moses) is not only a public servant by vocation. The people are his very make-up and being. This is commensurate with the importance of the leader to the people; they rely on him for everything, as was the case with Moses, that he provided them with their physical sustenance as well as the word of G-d. The leader is therefore “everything” to the people.


  1. How vital to us is the well-being of our leaders, and vice versa.
  2. Strengthening our connection to our spiritual leaders provides an open channel for blessing.
  3. Moses is the model Jewish leader. The Torah is his legacy.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 33, Chukas)


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