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Lesson of Chukat

The Red Heifer, Kabbalah - Chukat

The lesson of Chukat opens with an explanations of how the impure and the unclean should be ritually cleansed with the ashes of a red heifer. Many commentators asks about the connection of the red heifer and the rest of the Bible. A surprising number of them conclude that we simply aren’t meant to understand what is being said here. But Kabalistically, not understanding what is being said here contradicts everything we know to be true, so obviously there is more to this than meets the eye. In a letter to Rav Berg, Rav Brandwein speaks about the two questions that Korach asked Moses: ” Must a talit ( prayer shawl) that is all blue have tzittzit ( fringes on the 4 corners) ? and ” Does a house that is full of only holy books need a Mezuzah?” 

blameWhen we look deeper into Korach’s questions we can see that what he was really saying was, ” I don;t care why the creator has given us these precepts. I don’t care about transforming myself. I transfer the responsibility for my actions to the creator, and if things don’t go the way that I want them to, it is the Creator’s fault, not mine.” The bottom line was that Korach felt the belief without action was enough.

But not even God can do our spiritual work for us. The Light of the  Creator can certainly guide and assist us, but we alone must do the actual work. Only we ourselves have the opportunity to create and to control what happens in our lives and, indeedm the entire world. There is no coercion in spirituality, so the Light can not come into our lives and help us without an invitation from us to do so. We are not alone in our work to grow and transform, but we need to initiate the process. We must be determined to do everything it takes to change our attitude and behaviour and to face our fears. Then, when we ask for help from the Creator, the Light will come in.

let the light in

Korach wanted to be alone in his life, in effect claiming that he knew all the spiritual reasons why people have to do certain things and not others, and that he didn’t need any help. But the Light of the Creator is the energy that sustains us and gives us life. Without it, we have nothing, and unless we do the work of transforming ourselves, the Light cannot be revealed. We must ask why things are happening to us, and we must take responsibility for doing our spiritual work.

Two unanswered questions still remain from our reading of Chukat: What is the connection to the red heifer, and what is the meaning of: ” He who was impure becomes pure and he who was pure becomes impure?” The sages explain that one’s self regard is the issue. Whoever thinks of himself as pure is really impure, while whoever things of himself as impure will become pure. The red heifer relates to both aspects of this which is why it has the power to cleanse the biggest impurity of all – death. The red heifer has the power to free us from death and to bring immortality. It has the power to nullify and neutralize the effects of the sin of worshiping the golden calf, which was the introduction of death. Today, we still worship golden calves. in form of our addictions and desires that remove us from the Light. by connecting to this section we are not just reading about something that happened many years ago; we  are being given the power to remove death in every form from our lives- whether physical death, emotional death in our relationships, or psychological death in the form of inner conflict and emotional pain- and replacing it with the life force of the creator.

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