The Mitzva of Para Aduma discussed in our Parsha is the quintessential chok; a Mitzva which we cannot comprehend it’s reason. One aspect of the Mitzva that seems incomprehensible is that although the Mitzva is performed to purify impure people, those involved in the process become impure themselves!
In fact, Shlomo Hamelech writes in Koheles that he understands the entire Torah except for Para Aduma. Additionally, the Medrash tells us that Hashem told Moshe, ‘only to you will I explain Para Aduma’. No one else will understand it until the days of Moshiach.
Why is Hashem withholding the meaning and significance of this Mitzva from us?
The Ba’air Yosef explains that it is in order to teach us a very important lesson, namely, that there are things in life that we cannot understand. There are paradoxes like righteous people suffering and wicked people having great wealth and power. Para Aduma is THE Mitzva which reminds us of this idea.
The Shibolei Haleket writes that twenty four cartloads of holy Sefarim were burned on the Friday of Parshas Chukas in Paris, in the year 1242. The Magen Avraham cites a custom to fast on the Friday of Parshas Chukas to commemorate that burning. Why do we follow the day of the week that it was on, and not the calendar date, like we do by all other fast days and Yomim Tovim?
In a dream, it was revealed to the leading Rabbis that this fast is observed specifically on the Friday of Parshas Chukas, the day right before we layn Chukas, because the Parsha starts off “Zos CHUKAS Hatorah” and the targum is ‘this is the DECREE of the Torah.’ The Parsha is symbolizing to us this principle, that there are things in this lifetime that we humans cannot understand.
May we all take this lesson to heart, and try to accept with simplistic faith all challenges and difficulties that come our way, even when they seem to be counterproductive and make no sense to us. May this serve as our continual attempt to atone for all the incidents where we questioned G-d throughout history.