[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much. A special thank you to Aaron Friedman for always looking over the divrei torah.]
The Mitzva of Parah 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 we cannot understand. There are paradoxes like righteous people suffering and wicked people having great wealth and power. Parah 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 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 lain 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.
Editor’s note: Mazel tov to all of those who have finished Maseches Yevamos. Yevamos is not an easy Masechta to go through. It is a tremendous accomplishment. The Gemara in Yevamos (121a) tells a story of how Rabbi Akiva was drowning in the sea and he said that he grabbed onto a daf (a plank) from a ship. He held on to it and bowed his head before every dangerous wave that threatened to drown him. When Rav Meir Shapiro famously introduced the Daf Yomi, he referred to this story and said that the Yidden have survived throughout the long exile because they have held on to the daf- the page of the Talmud.
As Daf Yomi embarks Kesubos on Friday of Parshas Chukas, the same day that the 24,000 sefarim were burnt, let us remember Rav Meir Shapiro’s lesson. It is the daf that has saved us throughout the generations. Our connection to Hashem and His Torah has protected us from our enemies time and time again. Even if one is not learning the daf, let us try to hold on to something. It could be learning one Mishna, one pasuk, or one halacha a day. Let us strengthen our connection to Hashem and through that merit to have the ultimate redemption with Moshiach very soon!