In addition to the regular Torah reading this week, we read Parshas Parah, which is about the Parah Adumah (the Red Heifer). If one was rendered impure as a result of certain kinds of association with a corpse, he can only be purified through a procedure which involved being sprinkled with a mixture of ashes of a burnt red cow. Rashi explains (Megillah 29a) that this reading is read this time of year in preparation for Passover. At the time that sacrifices were brought, there was a special Passover sacrifice that every Jew brought, and one must be pure from spiritual contamination in order to partake in the sacrifice. This reading would serve as a reminder for anyone who has not purified himself yet, to make sure to begin the process in advance of Passover. Being that we unfortunately do not have the privilege to purify ourselves in this fashion nowadays, what significance does this reading hold for us ?
The Be’er Yosef (Parshas Chukas) explains that the Mitzvah (commandment) of Parah Adumah is unique in the sense that there seems to be no logical understanding to it. This Mitzvah is so beyond our grasp that even King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that he could not comprehend this Mitzvah, as stated in the Medrash (Bamidar Rabboh, 19:3). The fact that this Mitzvah seems so obscure isn’t a matter of coincidence, says the Be’er Yosef. This is precisely the point. The Torah purposely hid the meaning of this Mitzvah in order to ingrain in us a most vital lesson: We don’t have to understand. God’s wisdom is way beyond our limited comprehension, and our job is to put our faith in Him in the way He runs the world, without second guessing Him. Although there may be events which transpire in this world which seem to be confusing and unfair, our job is to accept that God’s wisdom is beyond our grasp, and not get flustered and shaken by such matters. Just as we cannot understand the meaning behind the Parah Adumah, we need not understand God’s judgements in this world either. Base on this, the Be’er Yosef (in the footnote from the son of the author) suggests that designating a special reading of this section in the Torah about the Parah Adumah is meant to impress upon us this very attitude. We should not expect to understand everything in this world. We must always follow God faithfully, without questioning His fairness.
The Belze Rebbe, Rabbi Aharon Rokeach, survived the Holocaust himself, but lost his wife and eight children during the war. One time, Rabbi Shimshon Aharon Polonsky, attempted to ask him for his opinion regarding events of the Holocaust. The Belze Rebbe was startled by the request and refused to speak about the topic. Instead, he said in response, “It is completely forbidden to talk about this because one might come to question God’s judgements.” When Rabbi Polonsky would recall this story, he would comment about how impressed he was with the Rebbe’s fear of transgressing this sin. This principle is most apropos for this time of year, as we near Passover. Passover is about imbedding in our consciousness our faith in God, by reliving all the miracles we experienced in the process of our liberation from Egypt. But it’s not enough to know that God exists. We must put our full trust in Him, no matter what we witness or experience. This is one of the most difficult struggles people face in life. When we experience pain, or we see other upstanding people suffering, we feel an outcry of injustice simmering within us. In truth, this could be attributed to arrogance. Why should we expect to be wise enough to always understand the great depth of God’s wisdom? On the contrary, we should expect to not understand everything we see. As one wise man once said after experiencing a personal tragedy, “A god of whom I can expect to understand everything he does, is not great enough to be my god.” Submitting ourselves to God completely without questioning His reasoning is the first step in achieving true loyalty to our Creator.