Beyond Our Comprehension

Parah Adumah is the quintessential chok.

It is metaheir temei’im umetamei tehorim — it “cleanses the contaminated and contaminates the pure.” The notion of the very same process purifying the impure and also contaminating the pure is incomprehensible to humans, with their limited understanding.

This is the basis of our relationship with Hashem: Recognition of the limitations of mortals and the infinite greatness of our Creator.

In Perek 92 of Tehillim, Moshe Rabbeinu addresses one of the fundamental paradoxes of history: “When the wicked bloom like grass and the doers of iniquity blossom…” In other words, why do good things happen to bad people?

Moshe Rabbeinu prefaces this with the words, “How great are your deeds, Hashem; exceedingly profound are Your thoughts! A boor cannot know, nor can a fool understand…”

At first glance this would seem perplexing: Even the wisest of all men cannot grasp the profound thoughts of Hashem, so why does the passuk refer to a boor and a fool?

The meforshim explain that that is exactly what a fool doesn’t know and a boor doesn’t understand. The fool and the boor think that they can know and comprehend the reasons of Hashem. A wise man recognizes that that is beyond the scope of his comprehension.

The Slonimer Rebbe the Beis Avrohom, zy”a, points out that the Torah does not say Zos chukas haparah — “this is the statute of the parah,” but rather Zos chukas haTorah “this is the statute of the Torah.” This teaches us that mitzvas parah adumah is a metaphor for the entire Torah. The Torah too “cleanses the contaminated”; when studied for the proper reasons, it is the most potent tool for spiritual elevation. But, as Chazal tell us, the study of Torah can be a fatal poison when it is learned for the wrong reasons.

Furthermore, the essence of the Torah is so lofty that this too is beyond the scope of human understanding. Even the Baal Shem Tov, who merited that Achiyah Hashiloni, a navi from the time of the Melachim, came to him to reveal the hidden secrets of the Torah, declared that despite all his vast knowledge of Torah he served Hashem with emunah peshutah, belief without any calculations.

The Midrash tells us that Hashem revealed to Moshe Rabbeinu the reasoning behind the parah adumah. Nonetheless, Moshe served Hashem as an eved ne’eman, a loyal servant, with emunah peshutah, a belief that the ways of Hashem are above human understanding.