The posuk in Sefer Koheles (7:23) says, “All this I have tested with wisdom; I thought I could become wise, but it is beyond me.” Shlomo Hamelech, in this posuk in Sefer Koheles, is referring to the “sod,” the hidden mystery and meaning, of the Parah Adumah. Although he attempted to understand its hidden meaning, it was beyond him.
Chazal in Medrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 19:3) reveal that what ultimately served to be beyond Shlomo’s understanding was the inherent contradiction that exists among those who are involved in its process. Those who are sprinkled with its ashes mixed with water become tahor, while those who are involved in its developmental procedure are subject to tumah. Yet, the words of Chazal in Bamidbar Rabbah (19:6) reveal that Hashem told Moshe, “Lecha, to you, Moshe, I will reveal the hidden meaning of the Parah Adumah.” Chazal aren’t merely teaching us that Moshe had a greater understanding of aspects of Torah, but rather, what Moshe was zoche to was a function of the way he related to ultimate chochmah.
The Sefas Emes explains what Chazal are revealing to us.
There are many laws in the Torah that, to the superficial gaze, are at least difficult, if not impossible, to understand. Yet, Rashi on the posuk which begins Parshas Chukas cites the words of Chazal that the Soton and the nations of the world challenge the Bnei Yisroel as to the meaning of the way the Parah is able to bring about taharah and dispel tumah. Tumah is a result of the unfortunate reality of misah, death, which was a direct result of the chet of Adam Harishon. When Adam ate from the forbidden fruit of the Eitz Hadaas Tov V’ra, the tree that from the eating of its fruit man will now be composed of good and evil, he brought death upon himself. That which is pure good relates to Hashem, and just as He is eternal, so was that to be the destiny of man. But evil is not a true metzius. Rather, it is something that provides the capacity of bechirah, free will, within the system of Olam Hazeh, but will eventually cease to exist. Thus, just as the nochosh in the Gan challenged Adam’s total obedience and acceptance of the ratzon of Hashem of not eating from the tree, the nations challenge the Bnei Yisroel in terms of the meaning of the Parah Adumah.
The chet brought about by the nochosh brought death to man, while the ashes of the Parah remove the spiritual stench of death, the tumah that is the result of one who had some sense of a connection with one who died. Thus, the nations attempt to topple Adam – Klal Yisroel – by destroying their commitment to the mitzvah that somewhat removes the results of the chet – the tumah – at least partially. Their goal is to cause the Bnei Yisroel to fall prey to the blasphemous words that they heave upon them, for the state of absolute purity is based upon one’s absolute bitul hadaas, when one totally accepts the words of Hashem, and not necessarily through one’s own limited understanding and seichel.
In our terms, to the extent that man’s physical dimension plays a role in his etzem metzius, his perception of the reality of the absolute truth of Hashem can be flawed. Man’s seichel isn’t necessarily pure, but can be tainted by his connection to his guf. With regard to Moshe, the posuk (Bamidbar 12:3) says, “Now the ish (man) Moshe was anav mikol adam, the humblest of all men on the face of the earth.” The anivus of Moshe was such that he had no sense of identity that was not in terms of avodas Hashem. Generally, we are normal people, and the goal of our lives is to incorporate the Presence of Hashem within it. In Moshe, however, there was no personal identity not in terms of Hashem, and this served as the basic reason for why he was able to comprehend the contradiction that is inherent in Parah Adumah.
It wasn’t simply that Moshe was able to understand the sod of Parah through his great seichel. Rather, his state of existence provided him with a sense of identity of an absolute connection with Hashem. He was therefore privy to a kind of understanding that is beyond us, for our sense of understanding is based upon the lowly seichel of man. Thus, in his state of absolute connection, everything clearly exists as a function of Hashem Echad, and thus he understood the sod of Parah. But Shlomo was the “chochom mikol adam, the wisest of all men,” and therefore, no matter how great his chochmah, it was still in some sense stifled in that his seichel was a function of his being a mizug, a combination, of the physical and the spiritual.
The gematria of Amaleik is two hundred and forty, similar to that of the word safek, to exist in a state of not being sure. This was the spiritual poison that Amaleik inflicted upon the Bnei Yisroel when they were attacked on their march to Kabbolas HaTorah. Wondering about the validity of something that is absolute truth – that which Hashem is Echad – can only be possible when the seichel of the person is being governed by its connection to the guf. Moshe Rabbeinu sat atop the mountain in Parshas Beshalach (17:12) with his hands “emunah.” The Targum defines it as “prisin,” meaning that they were thrust heavenward in total acknowledgement that it is indeed Hashem in heaven Who is the Shoresh and Source for all that exists on earth. Moshe’s true realm was that of heaven, and thus he understood the sod of the Parah Adumah, because his seichel was a function of him actually being there. The key to understanding the essence of the Parah Adumah lies in the need to have emunah and totally believe in Hashem.
Rabbi Rapps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.