Parashas Chukas 5780 – Path to Life!

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The Parashah begins by stating: “This is the law of the Torah that Hashem commanded, instruct the Bnei Yisrael to bring you a red heifer without blemish, and on which no yoke has been laid” The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh asks why this mitzvah is called the “law of the Torah”; it would have been more appropriate to call it the “chok of purity” because it relates to the laws of purity and impurity? The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh answers that the Torah teaches us that if we fulfill this mitzvah even though it is beyond our logic, then the Torah considers as if we have fulfilled the entire Torah, because it shows that we are willing to fulfil Hashem’s commandments unconditionally. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz explains; when a person fulfils a Mitzvah that has an obvious reason to it, it is still not clear that he is prepared to fulfill the Torah purely because Hashem commanded it. It could be that he performs the Mitzva because of ulterior motives or its reward. However, once the Mitzvah performed is one without obvious logic it confirms that the Mitzva was not performed because of outside motive but only because Hashem commanded it. This is a fundamental Torah principle – to perform Mitzvos with the only intention to fulfil Hashem’s will and not for their reward as stated in Pirkei Avos “Do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you.” As it is the only path to “life”. This can be illustrated with a beautiful story There once was an innkeeper who employed two assistants, a young boy and girl who happened to be orphans. When they grew older the innkeeper thought it would be a good idea to marry them to each other, a plan to which they both agreed. As they were extremely poor, the kind innkeeper provided them with money to cover the wedding expenses. The young couple traveled to the nearby town to make their purchases. As they approached the village, they heard a loud commotion. They asked the local townspeople what was going on, they were told that a family had not paid its rent to the poritz (landowner) for quite some time. As a result, the entire family was being led to prison. The orphaned bride and groom were overcome with pity and decided to try to ransom the poor family with their wedding money. The poritz accepted their offer and released the family. The young couple returned home and told the innkeeper that they were robbed on the way to the city. The kind innkeeper gave them again money for the wedding. The date was set and guests from the surrounding area were invited. Just a short time before the chuppah, a carriage full of unexpected guests arrived. Inside were several Torah scholars of regal bearing. Unbeknownst to anyone, these were the Baal Shem Tov and some disciples. Alighting from their carriage the Baal Shem Tov addressed the groom, without revealing his identity: “Mazal tov to you, nephew, I am your uncle. I came as soon as I heard you were to be married today.” One of the Baal Shem’s disciples introduced himself as an uncle of the bride. Another explained that he was the groom’s cousin. Each one of the scholars presented himself as a relative of the orphaned couple. As was then the custom, part of the wedding revelry consisted of announcing the gifts bestowed on the newly married couple. When the Baal Shem Tov was asked what he was giving, he replied: “I hereby bequeath to them the poritz’s village!” This announcement caused the celebrants to laugh, as everyone thought he must have had nothing to give and merely wanted to amuse the bride and groom. One disciple said he was giving the poritz’s mill; a second disciple announced the gift of the poritz’s river, and yet a third said he was giving the poritz’s forest. Shortly after the wedding the generous innkeeper suggested that the young couple open their own inn in a neighboring village. Again, he kindly provided them with financial assistance and helped them set up their own business. Not long after the inn was opened, the couple was awakened one night by a knock at the door. Standing outside was a gentile, who explained that he was the servant of a very wealthy and powerful landowner. He was sent on a hunting expedition with the landowner’s son, and unfortunately had an accident. The horse pulling the carriage had slipped and fallen into a deep ravine, dragging the wagon and the young boy inside down into the gully. Could the young innkeeper please help him rescue the child? The young man immediately threw on his overcoat, reached for this lantern and shovel, and followed the servant off into the night. Together, they managed to free the horse and carriage. The innkeeper carried the half-frozen child back to his house, changed his clothes, gave him warm food and drink to revive him, and put him to bed. The next morning, the boy was well enough to go home, accompanied by his father’s servant. When they reached the poritz’s estate they were given a joyous welcome, for the landowner had sent out a search party to look for the boy. The boy recounted how he was saved and taken care of by the Jewish innkeeper. The relieved father decided to celebrate his son’s salvation by throwing a huge party and invite the wealthier and most powerful surrounding poritz. The young innkeeper was also invited. During the party, after the landowners had more than their share of fine wine, they decided to show their gratitude to the Jew who rescued the boy by presenting him with their gifts. The poritz, the father of the boy, got up and announced that he was giving one of his villages (the very village which had been promised by the Baal Shem Tov) to the astonished young man. Another landowner, not wanting to be outdone, stood up and declared that he would give his mill (the specific mill promised by the Baal Shem Tov’s disciple) as a gift. Another presented the young man with the deed to his forest, another, his river. Each gave the young orphan the exact gift that had been promised by one of the mysterious guests who had arrived the day of the wedding. The struggling orphans had now become extraordinarily rich. This was, of course, the young couple’s just reward for accomplishing the precious mitzvah of redemption of the prisoners without ulterior motives. They sacrificed their future to save a family, a deed that the saintly Baal Shem Tov had seen with his holy vision. The Torah teaches us that this world is subject to mirror effects, what we see is not the actual reality but usually the opposite. To live one must die as stated in the verse “This is the Torah, when a person dies in the tent” (Numbers 19:14) The Talmud [Berachos 63b] explains the Verse according to Reish Lakish teaching: “How is it derived that the Torah is only retained by one who kills himself over it? As it is stated: “This is the Torah: When one dies the tent,” meaning the tent of study. The Kedushas Levi says that the deeper meaning of the Talmud is that one must nullify himself to deserve to understand and retain his Torah learning. The proper way to achieve it is taught by the commandment of the red heifer. To accomplish the Mitzvos with the unique intention to fulfil Hashem’s will. A gentile’s mind is geared horizontally, towards his future. A Jewish mind is geared vertically, towards Hashem. The future can only guarantee one outcome, death. Heaven guarantees eternal life!
-yes By Rabbi Shimon Friedman – Din Torah Of NMB, FL 305.399.0393 / rabbifridmann@badatzmiami.com990 NE 171 Street  |  North Miami Beach, Florida 33162  |  (305) 918-1502  | * *