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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Chukat

Take It On Faith

141
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The ultimate Chok – a Mitzva for which the reason is not readily apparent – is the Para Aduma, the Red Heifer which was part of the ceremony to purify those who came into contact with a dead body. Because the ashes of this cow served to purify the impure, while at the same time making impure the pure Kohen who administered it, it is considered the chok par excellence.

In fact, so inscrutable is this Mitzva that even Melech Shlomo, King Solomon, considered to be the wisest of all people, could not fathom it. And so he laments, in Kohelet 7:23: "I tried with all my wisdom to understand it, but yet it is still distant from me." And yet, we are told that Hashem did reveal the deeper meaning of the Para Aduma to one person: Moshe! Why is it that HE understood what Shlomo could not?

I suggest that while Shlomo is the paradigm of Knowledge; Moshe is the paragon of Faith. And Faith is what takes over when Knowledge reaches a dead end.

If we think for a moment about those Mitzvot which truly define a Jew, more often than not they are Chukim. Wearing a Talit, Tefilin or a Kipa, for example, make up our "uniform." And yet, just why we do so is not all that easy to understand. Kashrut, as well, has a major impact on the life of an observant Jew, & yet we really don’t have a clue as to why certain foods are permissible while others are not, or why we cannot mix milk & meat together.

Perhaps the message here is that not everything is within the scope of our understanding. As brilliant as we think we are, able to answer any question on any subject at any time (with the help of Google and/or our wives!), there are certain mysteries which we will probably never solve: Why do the righteous suffer? What effect do our prayers really have? What, exactly, awaits us when we leave this world? These are just some of the unknowns that Man has struggled to answer throughout time, with little or no success.

But not having all the answers does not mean that life is pointless, meaningless, or direction-less. It just means that certain areas are within G-d’s realm, & we can’t get there via our knowledge. But we can reach that place through Faith. Faith is the single, solitary vehicle that bridges the worlds, allowing us to connect to the eternal & function in a universe often too complex for our brains to compute.

Sometimes, when knowledge eludes us, we would be wise to just accept things at Faith-value.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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