KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
By Rabbi Chaim Lobel
Chapter 19, Verse 2) "This is the statute of the Torah,
which G-d has commanded, saying: 'Speak to the Children
of Israel, and they shall take to you a perfectly red
cow, which has no blemish, upon which a yoke has not
Commenting on the verse, Rashi states that this
particular commandment is a statute of the Torah
"because Satan 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
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).
Answering his own question, the Sifsei Chachomim
suggests that the laws of the red cow are unique because
"this statute works in a contradictory fashion." The
ashes of the red cow purify the unclean, and those
preparing the ashes for the unclean become unclean
themselves. Furthermore, what power do these ashes have
to simply purify an unclean person. We may not
understand how ashes can purify a person, but it
seemingly defies logic that those same ashes would
render a "clean" person "unclean".
Following the Sifsei Chachomim's reasoning, a person
could appreciate that there are heavenly decrees beyond
our understanding yet still feel uneasy if the decree
appeared inherently illogical. Therefore, as Rashi
explained, do not aggrieve when the nations of the world
question this commandment because "it is a decree before
me (G-d), you have no right to reflect upon it."
But there are many decrees we don't understand. Why
would an individual who has "Emunah" (faith) and "Bitachon"
(trust) in G-d only be aggrieved when he is not able to
properly justify this particular decree to the nations
of the world?
It seems that, since this statute defies logic, it
automatically makes one uncomfortable in acting upon it.
Certainly, this difficulty would be inflated when
questioned by the nations of the world. G-d, however,
reassures us that this is a statute not to be reflected
upon. It is our limitations that do not allow us to
understand all the reasons for G-d's decrees.
When philosophizing of reasons for G-d's laws, we should
try to understand what we can but appreciate what we
cannot. One should always try to understand what we can;
realizing our limitations is one of them.
Lobel is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Aberdeen, Congregation Bet
Tefilah, Aberdeen, NJ.
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