This is a parsha with a stark study in contrasts. Here the red heifer instructions are given though they had clearly been in place previously and well understood, and it is in this parsha also that both Miriam and Aaron die. The other significant part of Chukkat is that within an instant of time in terms of the text, 38 years are skipped and we go from being at the start of the wilderness journey to almost its end. Here also Moshe makes his last tragic error–the one that directly guarantees he will not live to enter into the Promised Land. His story is nearing its end as Moshe prepares his people for some of the greatest challenges that lie in their immediate future.