Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Chukas-Balak

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This week’s Torah portion, Chukas-Balak, 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. Only G-dly intellect can understand it. 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 severe kind of spiritual impurity is contact with an actual corpse. The only way to remove this contamination 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 uses as few words as possible. He only writes that which is 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 the Torah, this comes to teach us a valuable lesson. One can ask how it is possible to purify a Jew who has descended to the lowest level and finds himself in an unclean environment. The answer is that he must keep in mind that the “Red Cow” was prepared in the desert. A desert is a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specially 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 can purify every Jew. This is true regardless of how far he has fallen, and whatever his surroundings are.

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

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

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

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

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