MidrESHET Hayil

Friday, June 14, 2013

Parashat Hukat- It’s Not WHY, It’s HOW….Seriously, Ask the Cow


Shabbat Kodesh Parashat Hukat
Hadlakat Nerot NY 8:09pm
Mossai Shabbat Kodesh 9:19pm
Rabbenu Tam 9:41pm
Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!
Parashat Hukat- It's Not WHY, It's HOW….Seriously, Ask the Cow

Once, on a road trip, we decided to take two cars to get to our destination. One of the cars had GPS navigation and the other car didn't. We decided to play it smart and appointed the car with navigation to lead the way, and we in the second car would just follow without knowing directions ahead of time. While the first car was cruising along leisurely, those in the second car were sitting on the edge of their seats, anticipating what the car ahead would do, trying to figure out the way. In the middle of this frustration, we actually started laughing. Two people, going to the same destination, using the same route had completely different experiences getting there; one was blasting Shwekey's CD along the entire route, while the other car was making noise of its own. The only difference was that one knew directions ahead of time while the other didn't.

We learned that sometimes, the destination isn't what matters most. How we get there has the most profound effect on us.

When Miriam Haneviah passes away, the Be'er Miram, the well that existed in her merit, ceased to provide water for Am Yisrael. Moshe Rabbenu was now given the task of providing water for Kelal Yisrael. How would he achieve this? HaKadosh Barukh Hu instructs him to speak with a rock and water will come flowing out of it. What did Moshe Rabbenu do? He wants to get water from the rock, so he hits it. If Moshe Rabbenu was not told the motive behind why he should speak to the rock, he would have certainly spoken to it directly with no problem, doubts or frustration. But since he knew the reason for interacting with the rock was to draw water from it, he ended up hitting it, thinking that this will achieve the goal. He calculated that as long as the end product is acquired, he could reach it any way he sees fit. But we all know that sometimes, the destination is not of prime importance; the way we get there makes all the difference.

Sometimes when we know WHY we are doing some things, we tend to cut corners, thinking, eh, as long as I get there it doesn't matter how. We put ourselves on auto cruise and don't do much work to get to where we must go. Not good.

A king of Benei Yisrael has certain missvot he must follow. Among them are not to have too many horses, not to have too many wives, and not to have too much silver and gold. Shelomoh HaMelekh was the wisest of all men. Had he not known the reasons for these missvot, he would have kept them impeccably. But the Navi tells us that he didn't. Why?Because he knew the reasons for these missvot.

One of the reasons why a king cannot have too many horses is because the best horses in the world are bred in Egypt, and HaKadosh Barukh Hu does not want us returning there. Shelomoh HaMelekh said to himself, Okay, so I won't take horses from Egypt, I will get them from elsewhere. I'm sure Syria could hook me up with a few stallions. And so, Shelomoh HaMelekh began to amass more and more horses, and sure enough, he collected too many for a king to have. He rationalized his actions. He figured, as long as I get to the right destination, it's okay if I bend a few corners along the way. He missed the point.

When we are given a reason for why we should or shouldn't be doing something, we start rationalizing and compromising different elements of a missvah that we, in our limited minds, don't think are important, and then we miss the whole point. We can even technically do the missvah but completely the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. It's not an easy thing to do. Even Shelomoh HaMelekh faltered with this.

This is why there are some missvot that we will never understand. Built into the Torah, into the system of missvot, are certain commandments called hukim, which by definition we are not meant to understand. One of these hukim is that of Parah Adumah, the Red Cow, which is what our Parashah this week is named after.

HaShem says, You want to become pureDon't ask questions. Burn this Red Cow, mix in some ingredients with its ashes and sprinkle it on yourselves and wait a few days. It'll do the trick.

Does it help me whatsoever if I understand the reason why this works? Absolutely not. Does it lose its value even if I don't understand it? Certainly not. Will I still do this missvah? If only I would have such a zekhout! (Be'Ezrat HaShem soon in the Beit HaMikdash, Amen!!)

Even Shelomoh HaMelekh, who knew all the reasons behind each missvah, did not know the reason behind Parah Adumah.  He tells us, 'Amarti ahkimah, ve'hi rehokah memeni; I thought I could become wise, but it is beyond me'. We don't always need to know the reason behind everything.

This is probably one of the reasons why we do not know exactly what Olam Haba is. If we thought we knew what it was, we would start making our own calculations. Oh, this missvah is definitely worth Olam Haba, but that one so isn't worth it! We would know what we are 'giving up' so to speak and become ready to negotiate. We would overlook certain missvot that seem smaller in our eyes, because in comparison to the grand scheme of things, the investment just doesn't seem worth it. Oh, Gan Eden is only a garden? I rather do what I want here on this world, I never liked flowers anyways, I get allergies in the Spring. It doesn't work this way!

Sometimes, it is not about WHY we do things, it is HOW we do them. HaShem wants something from you? DO IT! What does it matter to you if you know the reason or not? Don't you trust that HaKadosh Barukh Hu knows better? If as intelligent human beings we tend to act based on reason, you don't think our Creator would, too?  When the GPS asks me to make a right onto Main street, do I pull over and ask, Khanoom GPS, can you please explain to me the rationalization behind what you just told me to do? No! Yalla! I make the right and move forward. The GPS knows better than me. I'm not going to start questioning its every statement.

Don't ask WHY you should do a missvah, ask HOW you can do it. You don't understand the reason for kashrut? Don't worry, just keep it! The Reason for Shabbat? Do it either way! (and of course, learn about these beautiful missvot as well; the point is not to hold back from doing a missvah only because you don't know the reason for it). You will reap heaps and heaps of both personal benefit and reward, specifically because you did it without knowing or asking why in the first place. Remember, even the wisest of all men didn't know the reason behind every missvah.

Life isn't meant to be in cruise control. Sometimes we have to put in some energy and effort to get to our destination.  Make the missvah yours. In the end, you want to know who led the way back from the road trip? The car that didn't have a GPS navigation.

Be'Ezrat HaShem, may we all develop the koah and Emunah Shelemah to keep and internalize EVERY SINGLE ONE of HaKadosh Barukh Hu's missvot, whether or not we understand the reason behind it. May we do them the way HaShem requires of us and not only the way that is most comfortable for us. May we very soon be zokhim to be sprinkled with the ashes of the Parah Adumah in the Beit HaMikdash, Amen!
Wishing everone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!
Ariellah Samimi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

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