Chukat: What Heals the Ill, but Infects the Healthy?



What purifies the impure, but impurifies the pure?

Some years back, a red heifer – named Melody – was born on a farm in Israel. Immediately she made news as no one had seen a perfectly red cow for some two thousand years.

While Melody stood in her stall chewing cud and swatting flies, a furious debate swarmed around her red being. Some saw her as an imminent threat to peace in the region, fearing that she would embolden extremists to destroy the Muslim Dome of the Rock and start building the Third Temple. Others debated whether she was actually “red” or really more kind of “auburn.”

Before long, however, Melody sprang some white hairs on her snout and tail and was disqualified for Temple duty. Alas, she proved to be more of a red herring than a red heifer

Every year – as this week – we read in the Torah about the commandment of the red heifer, which defiled the pure while it purified those defiled by death.

A strange rite indeed, and even in the Temple times rarely used. So we might wonder what possible relevance does the mysterious red heifer have to our modern times?

A powerful teaching, an analysis of the Hebrew parah adumah, coupled with a piercing story and the piercing words of the Frierdiker Rebbe (whose 138th birthday and 91st anniversary of his liberation we celebrate this week) about misplaced humility – offers us fascinating psycho-spiritual lessons from the Torah’s red heifer, and it brings down some important lessons for today’s war against assimilation.









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