Friedman chukat

Parshat Chukat with Rabbi Friedman

This week’s Parsha we are taught about the Parah Adumah (Red heifer) which is known for its ability to  remove spiritual impurities. We sometimes tend to look at the impurity of the Kohein (priest)  and the purification of his Tumah (impurity) as the outcome of the process with no other lesson.  However, we need to look at this event a little closer as it contains an important message. We can’t lock ourselves up in a world that is totally pure and ignore everyone around us. Just like those who are impure can become purified, those who are pure need to subject themselves to impurity to purify others. We need to be there to assist, help and motivate others. Chessed is a basic requirement of Judaisim. What the Torah is telling us, is that sometimes we need to subject ourselves, even if its not comfortable in order to help others.

The Torah is stressing the point that despite the fact that another Jew has found himself to be impure, acted in a way that Torah does not prescribe, there is a mitzvah to get our hands dirty and assist, every person is special and makes a difference.

I would like to conclude with an anecdote about their man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out ‘Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?’

The young man paused, looked up, and replied ‘Throwing starfish into the ocean.’

‘I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?’ asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, ‘The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.’

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, ‘But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!’

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, ‘It made a difference for that one.’

Every life is immeasurable.

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