“Let Us Pass Through Your Land” – Episode #1

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Parshas Chukas #7

“Let Us Pass Through Your Land” – Episode #1

Bnei Yisrael were getting closer and closer to the Land of Israel. The direct way was to go through the Land of Edom, so Moshe sent messengers to the King of Edom.

“We are from the Jewish people, the sons of Yisrael, a.k.a. Yaakov,” one messenger said to the king. “We are actually related to you! Our forefather Yaakov had a twin brother by the name of Eisav, your ancestor.

“As you know,” piped up another messenger as he continued the history lesson, “we have suffered many hardships as slaves for many years in Egypt. Not only have we suffered, but our deceased ancestors – yours and ours – Avraham and Yitzchak – are pained when we suffer. Finally, HaShem has sent a messenger, an angel-like messenger, who is none other than our esteemed leader Moshe Rabbeinu to take us Out of Egypt!”

“Enough with the history lesson!’ screamed the king. “Now, what do you want from me?!”

“Why of course, Your Highness. Immediately. Straight to the point. No beating around the bush. After all our awful, bitter suffering, we are finally about to enter the Land of Israel. Our leader Moshe Rabbeinu hereby requests permission to travel peacefully through your country. He has promised that we will not travel through your fields and vineyards, nor shall we drink your well water. We will muzzle our animals and not let them graze from your fields.”

The king was staring at them with his beady eyes, full of hatred he inherited from you know who… Eisav!

The messengers continued their plea, “Please Your Majesty. We promise to go Derech HaMelech – the way of the king – on the wide open highways. But if Your Excellency so desires, we will go a different Derech HaMelech – any route the king requests – just tell us and we will obey.”

“I am not impressed,” replied the unimpressed king. “The answer is LO – NO! Out of the question!”

Shazak insight

Derech HaMelech and Derech Shazak

Shazak tries hard to bring the Parsha alive with our own wit and humor. But we also try our best to keep the story accurate, according to the classic Torah explainers – Rashi is the main one, but at times other ones, like the Ramban, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, even contemporary ones including yours truly, Shazak.

Here’s an example of two explanations of Derech HaMelech (the way of the king) that was seamlessly woven into the Shazak narrative:

We will go Derech HaMelech – the way of the king – on the wide open highways. But if you desire, Your Excellency, we will also go Derech HaMelech – any route the king desires – just tell us and we will obey.”

The first Derech HaMelech follows the opinion of Rashi’s grandson, known as the Rashbam, and the second Derech HaMelech follows the opinion of Ibn Ezra and Rabbeinu Bachya.

But the Torah is vast and has so many meanings, each one firmly rooted in the text and true on its level.

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