Parah Adumah and the Kidnapping: Understanding Ends; Faith begins.

28 06 2014

bring back our boyss

Almost exactly two weeks ago, Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were kidnapped from a part of Israel that many of us hold very dear to our hearts. The Gush Etzion block has a remarkable history and present. Its residents, both native Israelis and Olim alike, live by values and ideals that we can only learn from and aspire to. The Mekor Chayim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion has a student and parent body who represent the elite of the Dati Leumi sector.

For two weeks Jews in Israel and around the world from Sydney to New York, London to Mexico, have been mobilised in efforts to bring the boys home. Davening, Tehilim rotas, learning, Hafrashat Challah circles, doing chessed etc. In fact anything we could possibly do, in an outpouring of emotion and solidarity to try to change the Divine decree and get these boys home.

But the harsh reality is on the surface at least, it seems these fun loving boys are no closer to being back home than they were on that fateful Thursday evening just over two weeks ago.

The Gemarah in Brachot on Daf 7a, discusses how even Moshe Rabbenu, who as the Rambam describes in the Moreh Nevuchim was the greatest prophet to ever live, even he couldn’t understand Divine Providence and why the righteous suffer. I found comfort in this Gemarah, when seeing the scene this week at the UN in Geneva with Rachel Fraenkel flanked by the other two mothers, pleaded with the world to try harder to get their boys home.

The law of the Parah Adumah – Red Hefer, is described by Chazal as the prototype of a Chok, is beyond human comprehension. Rashi says, it is a decree of Hashem, who gave us the Torah, and it is not for anyone to question. The Ramban explains that this particular Halacha invites the heretics as it is performed outside of the Bet Mikdash, as if to put off the ‘demons’ of the field.

Tosafot say that one should not try to understand the Parah Adumah, as the laws of the Torah are like a Divine kiss and we are not to questions the good intentions that Hashem has for us.

There is one aspect of the Parah Adumah that puzzles Chazal the most. Why is it that the ashes purify the people who had been contaminated, but those who are engaged in it ‘s preparation become contaminated. Even Shlomo Hamelech doesn’t understand this law, as he says in Kohelet, “I said I would be wise, but it is far from me”.

So what is the underlying message? Whilst Hashem has granted us many gifts, there are limits to what we can understand and fathom. We have done everything we can do , and still the boys are not home. But that doesn’t mean we should stop. It just means that we are more acutely aware of the boundaries in our ability to understand the will of Hashem. It is only when our understanding ends, that true faith begins. As the Gemarah I quoted above from Brachot concludes, we cannot fathom the will of Hashem and shouldn’t even try.

Hashem is infinite and beyond human comprehension. The greatest wisdom is realizing that there are limits to what we can understand and just accepting that Hashem cares about us, both on a national and individual level, even though it can seem otherwise.

Reb Nachman says that there is nothing as whole as a broken heart. This also applies to the Jewish People as a collective entity. There is nothing as strong and powerful as a broken nation. Because, when we as unit are broken we realise that it is only through Achdut and Ahavat Chinam that we can prevail and survive. As the Sfat Emet writes, it is only when there is Achdut and Ahavat Chinam that Amalek has no chance in defeating us. When we are divided as a Nation, then Amalek has a chance in beating us.

Bsurot Tovot,

Benjy Singer.
My Shteiblech.