“This is the statute of the Torah, which
G-d has commanded, saying: “Speak to the
Children of Israel, and they shall take for you
a perfectly Red Cow, which has no blemish, and
no yoke had been placed upon her.” (Numbers
Upon coming in contact with a deceased
person, the only way to purify oneself was
through the sprinkling of the Red Cow's ashes.
This week’s portion of the Red Cow is read in
preparation for the Korban Pesach – sacrificial
Passover lamb, of which only those who are pure
or purified can partake.
Commenting on the verse, Rashi says the
Toarh specifically calls this commandment a
statute “because the Accusers of the Torah and
the nations of the world aggrieve Israel by
saying ‘What is the reason for this commandment?
What reason is there for this?’ Therefore, the
Torah wrote it as a statute, which implies, ‘it
is a decree before me (G-d), you have no right
to reflect upon it.’”
The Sifsei Chachomim asks a question on
Rashi (Verse 2, letter 2). “Why is this
commandment so special, that it is a statute
that one has “no right to reflect upon it”?
There are plenty of statutes that are not
understandable, such as the laws of “Kela’aim”
(planting different vegetables near one
another), or “Shatnez” (wearing garments with
interwoven wool and linen).
Answering his own question, the Sifsei
Chachomim suggests the laws of the red cow are
unique because “this statute works in a
contradictory fashion.” The ashes of the red
cow purify the impure but render unclean those
who prepare the ashes.
Many Torah laws are perplexing and we
persevere to understand them. However, the
nature of the red cow’s ashes is impossible to
comprehend – how can something purify the
spiritually impure but have the opposite effect
on someone who is spiritually pure? Since the
Torah is indivisible, if one element is
paradoxical, the entire Torah is a paradox.
Therefore, the Torah call this a “Hok,” a
statute, warning us that it is inherently
contradictory and we only obey because it is a
By segregating the Laws of the Red Cow
from other laws, the Torah demonstrates the
importance of consistency. So too, we need to be
consistent when teaching Torah values to others.
The classic cliché “how can such a person who
seems to hold the banner of a ‘Torah Follower’
act in such a fashion” is such a strong argument
because of the inconsistency it breeds.
Understanding the importance of
consistency, and how the Torah and our sages did
their utmost to keep that virtue intact can be a
source of inspiration for how we live our lives
and treat others. There’s no such thing as a
For more Divrei Torah on the Parsha