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Friday, June 30

The Weekly Shtikle - Chukas

This coming Monday, 9 Tammuz, is the second yahrtzeit of my sister-in-law, Batsheva Yeres. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Batsheva Blima, a"h bas HaRav Moshe Yosef HaLevi, ybl"t.

The beginning of parshas Chukas deals with the mitzvah of the parah adumah, (which will not be referred to as the Red Cow or Heifer because it probably was not really red, but that's for another time.) Parah adumah is well-known as the textbook chok, mitzvah without reasoning. Sefer HaChinuch writes that he will not give a reasoning for the mitzvah of parah adumah as he does for most of the other mitzvos for even Shlomo HaMelech could not find the reasoning for it. R' Yaakov Kamenetsky writes, in Emes L'Yaakov, that to give a reasoning for the miztvah would be against the very reasoning for the mitzvah itself. That is to say, that the essence of the mitzvah of parah adumah is that there is no reasoning to it.


Rashi at the end of perek 19 parables the mitzvah of parah adumah, an atonement for the sin of the golden calf, to the child of a maidservant who had "soiled" himself in the palace of the king, that it is incumbent upon the mother of the child to come and clean up the mess. Ramban and Kuzari write that the sin of the golden calf was not pure avodah zarah. B'nei Yisrael feared that Moshe had died and were afraid of losing their connection with HaShem and formed the golden calf so that the Shechinah would rest on it. Nevertheless, it was avodah zarah. This was a sin of the intuition. They did not turn away from HaShem, per se, but rather, they devised new, foreign methods to receive His Presence.


Afikei Yehudah writes that the meaning of Rashi's parable is that the "palace of the king" refers to the mind. By committing this sin of the intuition, B'nei Yisrael soiled the mind. The way to repent for this sin was to be given a mitzvah that cleans out the mind by keeping it out of the picture. A mitzvah which the mind cannot begin to understand is the perfect atonement for a sin for which the mind was responsible. (See also Rambam at the end of Hilchos Me'ilah on the importance of refraining from trying to understand the mitzvos in one's mind.) 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Since we will all hopefully be saying Kiddush Levana this motzaei Shabbos: Let's Face It
Dikdukian: It wasn't thrown

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