Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Chukas

Acceptance

This week’s parsha points out to us the inscrutable face, so to speak, of God and the difficulties embedded in our relationship with the infinite. The parsha opens with the famous commandment and ritual of the red heifer, which according to Jewish tradition defies all human rational understanding. It is the ultimate “I told you to do it, so do it and don’t ask any questions!” instruction in the Torah.

The ritual defiles the pure and purifies the defiled. It is technical and detailed in the utmost and requires an unblemished animal of red color without black hairs appearing on its body. The Mishna in tractate Parah labors to ferret out all of the details inherent in this ritual but the basic mystery that underlies all discussion of the matter can never be satisfactorily addressed.

We are brought face to face with the fact that finite humans cannot fathom the infinite Creator and truly understand His motives and reasons for the commandments of the Torah. The Torah warned us of this fact when it said: “… humans cannot see Me and live.”

Our great teacher Moshe was rebuffed in his attempt to understand more than what mortals could achieve in understanding God’s conduct, so to speak, in matters of this world. That is the great lesson of the red heifer – the clear divide between human rational understanding and the Divine will. It humbles us to think that there are things that we cannot understand, puzzles that we cannot solve, knots that we cannot unravel. But those are the facts of human existence.

In this week’s parsha we are witness to another event that is not easily understood. Moshe is barred from entry into the Land of Israel. Though the Torah gives us the reason that he smote the rock instead of speaking to it at Mei Merivah, the commentators to the Torah searched for more substantial reasons to justify the punishment of this great person for what apparently is a relatively minor offense.

At the end of all of the explanations we are again faced with the reality that we just cannot understand the ways of the infinite Creator as He deals with humans. The men of the Enlightenment, both Jews and non-Jews, blinded by their own arrogance, rejected the Torah and eventually God since they could not rationally understand everything about it. Their motto was and is: “If I don’t understand it then it does not exist or have relevance for me.”

But all of us, even the most knowledgeable and intelligent among us, know that there are mysteries in life that are beyond our ability to find a solution. Moshe’s fate is certainly one of those mysteries. And again, that is the reason that the Torah tells us of this incident so that we, like Moshe, realize that we cannot peer beyond the veil of Heaven.

The entire issue of the righteous suffering and the evildoers prospering gnaws at our faith and equilibrium. Yet the realization that we will never really understand these matters should serve as a solace and comfort for us. We must accept our finite state as we deal with the infinite Torah.

Shabat shalom,
Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Home is Where the Bais Din Is
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Judging My G-G-Generation
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Molded Future
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Meaning of Life
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5770

Be a New Person
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Partners In Peace
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Of Fashions and Foods
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Prayer is of the Essence
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5769

Judge Yourself Before Judging Others
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

> Teshuva—Paradigm Shift
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Combating Corruption
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

In All Fairness
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

ArtScroll

Shofar: Shock Treatment
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

I Will Not Be Lazy - I Will Not Give Up
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Challenged in the Heat of Battle
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

Weighing In
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information