Chukas

This Shabbos we read Parshas Chukas. In Parshas Chukas the Torah tells us of the laws of the red heifer. The law states that if a person was in contact with a dead body, he or she are not allowed to enter the Temple until they have the ashes of this heifer sprinkled onto them. In what is one of the hardest things to understand in the Torah, we are taught that this process that makes the impure person pure, renders the Kohain who is officiating over it ritually impure. The fact that the very same action can make the pure person impure, and the impure person pure, is pointed to as a Chok, a decree whose reasoning is not understood by human beings. Even King Solomon, the wisest of all men, said that he did not understand this law. The Ohr Hachaim points out that observance of this type of law, a Chok, where we donít know its reason, is a testimony to true commitment to the Almighty. When we keep a mitzvah because we understand it, it is possible that out motivation to do so is simply because it makes sense to us, and we feel it is the right thing to do. On the other hand, when we keep a Chok, a decree with no apparent reason, we show true commitment to doing what Hashem has told us simply because this is His will.

In a beautiful observation, the Bais Yitzchak tells us that in this mitzvah there is another special lesson. Before the Kohain involves himself in getting the ashes of the red heifer ready to be sprinkled on the person who is ritually impure, he himself is pure. By involving himself in this ritual, the Kohain himself becomes impure. While the person he is helping gains from this procedure, the Kohain himself loses. Often people say they canít help someone else because they will have to sacrifice time, energy, or money. The behavior of the Kohain, who allows himself to become ritually impure to help another Jew become pure, teaches us the importance of helping others, even if there is a sacrifice on our part. This lesson of selfless care for others, is an example that we hope we absorb from the Kohain and carry into our daily relationships with our fellow Jew.