Parshas Parah: The Reason for the Statute
By Rabbi Yonah Burr
זאת חקת התורה אשר צוה ד' לאמר ות"א דא גזרת אורייתא
This is the statute of the Torah That Hashem commanded saying
This Shabbos, we read Parshas Parah, which describes the unique procedure necessary to purify oneself to enable the bringing of the Korban Pesach. It is both a reminder of what happened, as well as a tefillah that we should merit the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash and with it, the purity necessary for us to merit bringing a Korban Pesach of our own.
This Mitzvah is known as the ultimate ‘Chok’- the unfathomable statute- how this ritual works, and why it is necessary. However, Rashi, citing the Medrash teaches us that this particular Mitzvah also serves as an atonement for the Sin of the Golden Calf.
“Just as you took gold to create an image, take this cow as an atonement. It should be red, just as we were red from sin. It must be perfect, unblemished, to restore us to our perfect state. It should not bear a yoke, just as we threw off the yoke of Heaven. Just as we crowded around Aaron to create for us an image, so too shall a Kohen perform this ritual; the cow should be burned, just as the golden image was burned”.
Every step of the process corresponded to the creation of the golden calf, and through this procedure, in addition to becoming pure, we gain atonement as well.
The Bais Halevi explains that precisely because it is a ‘Chok’ -- something that we don’t understand -- itself helps us achieve our atonement. We are prepared to serve Hashem whether we understand the reason for the commandment or not. That is how we demonstrate our true servitude towards Him. Mistakes are usually the result of poor judgement, and the atonement comes in part through refocusing and reprioritizing. We would like Hashem’s will to become our will, and we would like nothing else other than to be able to serve Him in purity.
Precisely by showing that we serve Hashem whether we understand the reason or not, we demonstrate our true servitude to Him.
How fitting it is to be reminded of this lesson as we enter the Pesach season. Pesach gives us the opportunity to relive the miracles of the exodus, rededicate ourselves to His service, and prepare for reaccepting the Torah!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!