Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trying to Understand the Red Heifer

The parsha discusses the chok- law beyond intellectual comprehension- Para Aduma. In order to purify oneself from being in contact with a dead corpse, a person must be sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer; however, the person who conducts the sacrificial ceremony of slaughtering and burning the heifer is considered ritually impure, what is the sense of this?

On a basic level, the only way we can come to understand this contraction is to discuss one of the philosophical mysteries of the world in trying to understand the essence of dualities—in other words, how could two opposite forces co-exist? For example, how could good and evil co-exist? How can there be happiness, tragedy, evil, etc. all simultaneously? Why do the righteous suffer? Why do the wicked prosper? These are all questions that even the greatest prophets of all times pondered profusely.

Other nations of the world understand this duality by claiming there is one deity for goodness, and one for evil. However, Jews obviously find this argument absurd, that is claiming that there is not One infinite power. However, the Torah teaches us otherwise. We learn from the Torah that there is One Source, where all goodness emanates from; good and seemingly evil are rooted in goodness. Additionally, because of our obvious intellectual limitations, we cannot fully comprehend the true essence of para aduma. By seeing where our limitations lie, this can allow us to shed light and transcend to a plain where contradictions no longer exist, but rather, we see clearly that Hashem’s Divine plan is for our ultimate benefit.

By adopting this emunah- commitment- in Hashem’s rulership of the world, and accepting that the many contradictions we face in our own lives are from Hashem, we are testifying to Hashem that we are completly committed to Him and His rulership, in the places we understand, but most importantly, in the places we don’t.

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