Pearls of Rashi – Chukas

This week’s Torah portion, Chukas, tells that[1] “This is the statute (Chok) of the Torah which Hashem commanded saying, ‘Speak to the Jewish people and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.’” A “Chok,” translated as a statute, is a Divine commandment which cannot be grasped by human understanding. It can only be understood with G-dly intellect. The law of the “Red Cow” is the statute of the Torah. It is the most outstanding of all “Chukim” (plural of “Chok”). Through this procedure one who came into contact with a corpse can become ritually purified.

There are various levels of spiritual impurity. Each is the result of contact with death in one form or another. Hence the most serious form of spiritual impurity is contact with an actual corpse. The only way to remove this defilement is through the “Red Cow.”

Rashi comments on the above verse, citing the words “and have them take for you.” He writes that “It will always be called in your name; the cow which Moshe prepared in the desert.” We have written many times that Rashi is very “stingy” with the words he uses. He only writes that which is absolutely necessary. What need is there to tell us that Moshe prepared the cow “in the desert?” We all know that whatever Moshe did after the exodus was done in the desert! He received the Torah and carried out all of Hashem’s commandments in the wilderness!

As is the case with everything in Torah, this comes to teach us an important lesson. One can ask how it is possible to purify a Jew who has descended to the lowest level and is found in an impure environment. The answer is that he must keep in mind that the “Red Cow” was prepared in the desert. The desert is a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specifically that all subsequent cows would be prepared. Rashi writes that each cow is called by Moshe’s name. With the power of Moshe, the leader of the generation, we have the power to purify each and every Jew. This is true regardless of how far he has fallen, and whatever his surroundings are.

We must use that power in order to sanctify ourselves and all of those around us. In that manner we will certainly bring Moshiach now!

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 19:2.

[2]. Parshas Aikev, Devorim 8:15.

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