asulin Chukat

Parshat Chukat with Rabbi Asulin

Our Parasha is named after what the law of the red-heifer is – a “Chukkah”, a statute:

“זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר דַּבֵּ֣ר | אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶ֩יךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה תְּמִימָ֗ה…”

“This is the statute of the Torah which the Lord commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Israel and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow…” (Bamidbar 19:2)

Explaining the word ‘statute’, says Rashi (ibid) based on a Gemara in Yome (67b):

This is the statute of the Torah: Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel, saying, “What is this commandment, and what purpose does it have?” Therefore, the Torah uses the term “statute.” I have decreed it; You have no right to challenge it.

Some parts of the Torah we just cannot understand. We believe we understand other parts of the Torah. But king Solomon teaches us a great lesson in Kohelet (7:23):

“כָּל־זֹ֖ה נִסִּ֣יתִי בַֽחָכְמָ֑ה אָמַ֣רְתִּי אֶחְכָּ֔מָה וְהִ֖יא רְחוֹקָ֥ה מִמֶּֽנִּי”

“All this I tested with wisdom; I said, “I will become wise,” but it was far from me”.

The Midrash Zuta (Kohelet 7:23) says the following:

Says king Solomon: “I have not left any wisdom in the world that I haven’t mastered, and once a reached the “red heifer” I thought I’d understand it, but I found that it is far from my understanding”.

The simple understanding is that king Solomon did understand the Torah, except the Parasha of the red heifer. However, my Rosh Yeshiva of KBY (Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg) explained to us that it goes deeper.

Solomon thought he understood everything until he got the red heifer. But when he learnt it and saw how deep it goes – he realized he understood nothing at all, ever. The “Chukkah” of our Parasha only indicates the infinite depth of the entire Torah – even the parts of it we seem to understand.

We love to rationalize things. We love to believe we understand our faith and Torah. Furthermore – it is imperative that we do our best to understand it.

But our Parasha teaches us that no matter how deep we think we dive into the ocean of the Torah, there is always hidden worlds inside that we may never comprehend, as the Torah is the infinite wisdom of the infinite HaShem Himself.

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