Monday, July 18, 2016

Beyond Comprehension

In this week's Torah portion, Chukat, we are taught the law of the Red Heifer. If someone comes in contact with a dead body, they have to be purified by being sprinkled with water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer. About this mitzva (commandment) the Torah says "Zot Chukat HaTorah - this is the decree of the Torah." Meaning, there is something about this mitzva which is central to Torah and its observance.

This mitzva is a "chok," a mitzva whose rational is beyond human comprehension and is done just because it is G-d's will.

What are some lessons that we can take from this Mitzvah that effect Jewish life and observance?

The first lesson is that we must be alive. Our attitude, outlook and focus must be positive and alive. Some see Torah as a bunch of rules telling them what they can't do. To them Torah becomes a miserable ball and chain which they lug around. Some even take pride in this form of misery: "Look at how miserable I am for G-d."

This is not living. The Torah wants us to purify ourselves from even contact with death. To live with Torah, is to see the positive purpose and mission that Hashem has given to us. Instead of a ball and chain, Torah becomes wings with which you can soar. Mitzvot become a joy to do. Even the negative commandments are kept out of joy and positivity. You get to be G-d's messenger to do these things.

Another thing we can learn from the red heifer is, that its reason is beyond human comprehension. We only do it because it is G-d's will. Same could be true about all the mitzvot, even the ones we do understand, we can and should do them for a higher purpose, because it is G-d's will. This makes our seemingly mundane actions meaningful too.

Being unable to do anything for myself, I see more than ever how simple actions can be meaningful and G-dly. Just sitting, keeping me company, is so precious to me.

This perhaps is the most important lesson of all. It is easy to see prayer, Torah study, tefillin, Shabbat candles, etc. As G-dly. To G-d, our most mundane act can be G-dly. This is especially true when we show kindness to one another, what is more G-dly than that.

Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca. 
PS - It takes him a whole day to write this [!!] with a special machine that is activated by his eyes.