Though Shabbat mom and her family are blessed to be in Jerusalem this week, we have not yet come upon a "red cow without blemish" wandering the streets of the most beautiful and spiritual city in the world. If we suddenly see this perfect red heifer on which "...there is no defect and ....no yoke has been laid" we will be sure to post a photo! But back to the Bible. This animal would be sacrificed by Eleazar the priest; its ashes, mixed with water, ("the water of lustration") are kept to purify those who are contaminated by touching corpses. Miriam dies while the people are camped at Kadesh and is buried there. The people rebel once more since there is no water (its presence had depended on Miriam) and G-d instructs Moses and Aaron to "...'assemble the community and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water.'" Frustrated by the kvetching, Moses makes a fatal tactical error. Instead of speaking to the rock he "struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank." Since Moses does not follow G-d's specific command, Moses learns that he and Aaron "'shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.'" All this aggravation, one (big) mistake, and Moses will die in the desert before reaching the Promised Land! While the decree seems harsh to the modern reader (and Shabbat Mom does not pretend to be a Torah scholar), perhaps the resonant message is this: No matter how holy, powerful, or important, our leaders are human and thus flawed, just like the rest of us. Only G-d is perfect. Aaron dies first on Mount Hor; his son Eleazar comes back down wearing his father's "vestments" to signal the succession. The people, "(speaking out) against G-d and against Moses" are struck by "seraph serpents" sent by G-d. Moses intercedes on the Israelite's behalf and is told by G-d to create "a copper serpent" on a stick that will cure the stricken when they gaze upon it. The Israelites march on through Transjordan, defeating their foes along the way. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!