Shabbat Parah 5767 (2007)

A Drash for Shabbat Parah 5767

by Marc Mangel

Advertisement for 15 minutes a day of study: 20th anniversary of Jenni’s Bat mitzvah, when I began learning how to read; 10th anniversary of our being here, when Susan began.


“Zot Chukkat HaTorah” – this is a Chok, a statute of the Torah. The commentators are in rare agreement on the Red Heifer:  we cannot understand it.

Rashi says “You do not have the right to question it”

The Shalah (R. I Horowitz, 1600s):  “…the metaphysical reasons of this legislation are totally obscure, andd even the commentators of the earlier generations who did have a measure of understanding have treated it as something sealed with many seals, and have not explained it adequately”

Nehama Leibowitz “Let us not be among those who seek rational explanation for those things to which the laws of reason do not apply.”

R. Jacob Reiner, a modern Orthodox, writes “a chok is a biblical imperative that defies all human logic and rationale”

We can then ask:  Indeed, then, what is the Torah teaching us with the Red Heifer?

The answer:  That there are some things that we are simply unable to understand. 

Perhaps the most difficult of things that are cannot understand is why there is so much suffering in the world. R. Abraham Twerski, in his commentary on  the Ramchal’s Mesillat Yesharim (Lights Along the Way) notes that the Talmud tells us that Moses sought to understand why the righteous suffer and that God told him that this secret cannot be revealed to any living person.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once told a survivor: “There are no words to console you.  But you cannot allow the Holocaust continue in your life.  We are day workers and our task is to shed light.  We need not expend our energies in battling darkness. We need only create day and night will fade away”.

But how do we create day to make the night fade away?  The Rebbe believed that each of us has a special mission, and that all of us can

Carry out every good thought. 

Use our intelligence to solve actual problems.

Express our love by stretching out a helping hand.

Give our money and time to charity.

The Rebbe concludes: “A small talent that is put to use is far more valuable than a great talent that is wasted…In  its simplicity, a good deed is mightier than the greatest ideas ever concocted”

Shabbat shalom






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