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                            PARSHAT  CHUKAT


Parshat Chukat begins with the classic "Chok" -  the decree of the Torah that has no apparent logical explanation. It talks about a Red Cow used to purify people. The animal was to be entirely red in color, perfect without blemish and one that never wore a yoke for doing work. Bamidbar 18:2.

 

We tend to classify the commandments into several categories. There are those that we understand, and naturally agree with, and can immediately recognize their benefits. We might have even thought of them ourselves. For instance: Refraining from murder or robbery, and honoring one's parents. Another type of Mitzvah is one that we never would have imagined by ourselves until the Torah taught it to us. Once we learn about this Mitzvah, however, we recognize its benefits. Keeping the Shabbat as a Holy day with all its intricate laws is something that man, perhaps, would never have considered. Once he observes Shabbat, however, the benefits become apparent. Once again, these are Mitzvot that we can justify logically. 

 

Then there is the "Chok."  No reasons, no logic, no obvious benefits ... just pure faith. Consider the yoke that is placed on an animal's back. These Mitzvot should not be regarded as a burden upon us rather the analogy suggests that the animal has no idea what is behind its master's will. It submits itself entirely to that will and the yoke ultimately enables it to fulfill its destiny. We accept the "yoke" of the Torah in pure faith and that enables us to fulfill our destiny. 

 

In a sense, all Mitzvot are "Chukim" even though we THINK we know their reasons. A rationale may help us a bit, but it's hardly the basis of our relationship with Hashem. At its highest level, faith requires us to come to Hashem purely out of love and without the incentive of the reward that comes along with doing a Mitzvah. As Pirkei Avot teaches (1:3): don't be like the laborer who's serving purely for the reward. There is only one reason to do any Mitzvah and that is … Hashem said so. 

 

A great Rabbi once looked up to heaven during his davening and with great fervor cried, "Dear Hashem, I don't want your reward - I want you." 

 

Kol Tov!  Our best to you...it's all good. 

Shabbat Shalom, CM 

 

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In this week's Parshah, we find Moshe Rabeinu being challenged once again. He had enough difficulty trying to get the people to obey logical laws. What do you suppose he must have thought when Hashem told him to teach the people about a Red Cow? 

 

 
 

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