Monday, July 2, 2012

Interesting Torah Lesson I Heard Last Week

I heard this Torah lesson from a rabbi at a nearby synagogue last week, was really impressed, and wanted to relay it to you:

It says that "Hashem looked at the Torah and created the world." From this we may deduce that the Torah is perfect; that it has no deficiencies and that it takes all factors into account. This (last) week's parsha talks about the red heifer, and how ritually sacrificing it and then mixing its ashes with water; then sprinkling this mixture on the "contaminated" party gets rid of the contamination. The interesting thing is that the priest doing the sprinkling would become contaminated in the process. This sounds dubious: why should someone perfoming a cleansing ritual become impure?

We find another apparent incongruity in the Ways of the Righteous. We're taught that pride is the axiom to G-d; that G-d and pride "cannot exist in the same world." At the same time, however, we see that pride is a significant asset when it comes to some very specific situations. I forget who the rabbi that presents this idea was, but he claimed that one needs a certain amount of pride in certain situations.

Perhaps, we see this when Moshe, known as "the most humble of men," stands up to Korach and those who join him in his rebellion. It would appear that anyone--but especially a leader of international proportions needs to be proud to a certain degree in order to withstand pressure from within.

We see from these two ideas that while pride is definitely a negative quality and the red heifer has the property of being able to purify, these ideas don't always hold true. The same may be said for just about anything. Besides the existence and onenness of G-d, there are no absolutes in the world. As Mahmonides teaches nothing is "black and white." We should always take the middle--or "golden" path.

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