Chukat

Chukat, Hukath, or Chukkas (חֻקַּת — Hebrew for “decree,” — the ninth word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 39th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the sixth in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Numbers 19:1–22:1. Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in late June or July.

The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying among years. In most years (for example, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017), parshah Chukat is read separately. In some years (for example, 2009, when the second day of Shavuot fell on a Sabbath in the Diaspora), parshah Chukat is combined with the subsequent parshah, Balak, to help achieve the needed number of weekly readings.

Jews also read the first part of the parshah, Numbers 19:1–22, in addition to the regular weekly Torah portion, on the Sabbath after Purim, called Shabbat Parah. On Shabbat Parah, a reader chants the regular weekly Torah portion first, and then a reader chants the chapter of the red cow (פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה, parah adumah). Shabbat Parah occurs shortly before Passover, and Numbers 19:1–22 sets out the procedure by which the Israelites could purify themselves from the contamination caused by a corpse, and so prepare for the pilgrimage festival of Passover.

Read more about ChukatIn The Liturgy