Red Heifer

Shalom Aleichem!

Mazel tov to QC alum Shachar Lobl on his upcoming marriage to Temima Zuker! Shachar will receive his Aufruf aliyah (being called to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding) tomorrow at Cong. Degel Israel (services 9am). Special Aufruf Kiddush Farbrengen will follow services in our home. If you are in Queens for Shabbat, please come say L’chaim and wish Shachar a mazel tov!

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Mazel tov to Joel Lieber on his upcoming marriage to Ilana Strauss!

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Mazel tov to QC alumni BethAnne & Michael Avezov on the birth of their second daughter!

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Mazel tov to QC alum Gedalye (Corey) & Rose Breier and Zalman & Michelle Breier on the birth of a grandson/son!

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Mazel tov to Zishy & Esther Rachel Barth on the Bar Mitzvah of their son Aryeh!

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In synagogues across the world, two Torah scrolls will be read from this Shabbat. In the first Torah, we will read the weekly Torah portion of Shemini. In the second scroll we will read an additional reading, called Parshas Para (Numbers ch.19), which details the laws of the Red Heifer.

The verse states: “This is the rule of the Torah that G-d has commanded you to say [to the people]; speak to the Israelites and have them take for you a totally red-haired, unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was ever laid.”

Since the passage only discusses the laws of the Red Heifer, wouldn’t it be more accurate for the verse to state, “This is the rule of the Red Heifer,” instead of the “rule of the Torah?”

The reason why the passage is introduced as the rule of the Torah, is to indicate that there is something about the Red Heifer that is intrinsically connected to the entire Torah.

The rite of the Red Heifer, in brief, entails burning the animal and then mixing the ashes with water. Fire and water allude to the mystical concept known as Ratzo V’Shov (literally, running & returning), the constant state of flux that the soul experiences.

The nature of fire is to ascend upwards, while water always descends to the lowest place. The Red Heifer is, indeed, the rule of the Torah, for it is these two motions that enable one to fulfill the Torah.

The soul is like fire, in that it yearns to ascend upwards and connect to its Source. The soul desires to be close to the Almighty. Yet, as the soul approaches its Supernal Source, it comprehends that it was not created for its own spiritual delight. As water descends to the lowest place, so too, G-d desires that the soul descend into the world and fulfill the Torah and the Commandments.

These two motions go hand-in-hand: When the soul ascends, it draws inspiration for its challenging mission of fulfilling the Torah while clothed in a fleshly body. And on the other hand, as the soul descends below, it yearns to once again return to its Source.

This cosmic running and returning is the spice of life. L’chaim!

Shabbat Shalom,