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Devar Torah - Chukas

Friday, 18 June, 2021 - 11:25 am

What Does the Red Heifer Have to Do with Us Today?

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Gimmel Tammuz fell out on Sunday of this last week. What is the connection between Gimmel Tammuz and this week’s parsha of Chukas? The Alter Rebbe brings in Igeres HaKodesh (chapter 28) a Gemara (Moed Katan 28)  that says that Miriam’s passing is recorded in the Torah next to the parsha of the Parah Adumah to teach us that just as the Parah Adumah atones for sin so too the passing of Tzaddikim atones for sins.

The Rebbe asks the following questions about the Parah Adumah. 1. Why was it the only korban brought outside the Beis HaMikdash? 2. Why do those involved in preparing or offering the korban  become impure? 3. Why is the Parah Adumah called on Moshe Rabbenu’s name and why do all future Parah Adumahs require the addition of some of the ash from the original Parah of Moshe? 4. Why does the Torah require that the ash be guarded (l’mishmeres)?

The Rebbe answered these questions by bringing a Medrash. When Hashem taught Moshe the laws of the impurity of death (tumas meis) Moshe Rabbenu turned colors, thinking how will the Jewish people ever become purified from such a severe impurity. Hashem answered with the words: “Zos chukas ha Torah- This is the statute of the Torah”. Why was Moshe Rabbenu so bothered by this impurity and not any of the other forms of impurity? It’s because the impurity of death is the most severe (avi avos hatumah). This impurity represents spiritual death. It’s a state where the person’s lifeline has been cut off. As the pasuk reads “Those of you that are attached to Hashem your G-d are all alive today”. We can be lacking in many areas and even impure in some. As long as we are connected we can be revived, just like a leaf attached to a parched tree can be revived with some water. What can be done when there is no connection? How is there even a possibility for cleansing such an impurity? This is what troubled Moshe Rabbenu.

Hashem’s answer was; “Zos chukas HaTorah”; it’s not based on a logical calculation, it’s a statute. Go outside, leave the Beis HaMikdash and get involved in the challenges and limitations of the outside world, even those aspects that are opposed to kedusha. This is a message to everyone of us to get involved in the needs of others and to give of ourselves, of our time and yes even some of our spiritual stature and purpose to benefit others. Because of his involvement with the Parah Adumah, Elazar HaKohen was unavailable for service in the Beis HaMikdash for the entire day and then into the night while he went through purification. This is the chok, the decree of the Torah. We do this because Hashem instructed us to go into the difficulties of others outside the realm of holiness without an end gain for ourselves, even a spiritual benefit.

The one who helps us and gives us this power to be successful is Moshe Rabbenu who said “Anachnu Mah, who are we?”, (meaning that it is not by our strength or power, rather by our connection with Hashem that we succeed). Our connection to Moshe Rabbenu and the Moshe Rabbenu of our generation, the Rebbe, touches the self sacrifice within us that is beyond the intellect and any of its calculations. We have seen this characteristic on display endlessly by the Rebbe who gave so generously of his time and energy to others. This is why the Parah Adumah, Zos chukas HaTorah, is called on Moshe Rabbenu’s name and all subsequent one’s have some of the ash of the original, connecting us throughout to Moshe Rabbenu.

On the other hand we cannot suffice with self sacrifice alone. A person can not make his entire Judaism stand on Mivtzoyim alone. We need the additional reminder to guard the ash of the Parah Adumah, to protect ourselves and to preserve our connection and to maintain our purity as well. How do we do this? By using the spiritual ash of the Parah Adumah of Moshe Rabbenu. The ash represents the nullification of our will to Hashem. When do we express this nullification? When we recite the Shema. It’s not enough to say the Shema alone and to express our self sacrifice to the unity of Hashem, but we also need to sprinkle that ash throughout the day by remembering our devotion to Hashem. This enables us to overcome our animal soul’s trials and tribulations. With the strength we get through our connection to the Rebbe, we are guaranteed success in our efforts to purify our surroundings, even the parts that have contracted the impurity of death, by sprinkling others with the living waters of the wellspring of Chassidus with sincerity. Through our connection, involvement and efforts may we immediately merit the 10th Parah Adumah, the Parah of the Melech HaMoshiach, now!

A Good Shabbos 

(Adapted from Sichos Kodesh and Likutei Sichos parshas Chukas v. 4 and 33)

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