Monday, March 24, 2014

the mystery of parah adumah

Why is the parsha of parah adumah considered such a mysterious chok when the Rishonim give reasons for it: it is the mother cow that comes to clean up the mess of the cheit ha’eigel?  Chasam Sofer explains that parhas parah was one of the parshiyos given to Bnei Yisrael at Marah, right after yetziyas Mitzrayim, before the cheit ha’eigel occurred.  How can G-d give a means of kaparah for a sin yet to occur without predetermining that such a sin will occur?  This, writes the Chasam Sofer, was Aharon’s complaint to Moshe in response to the eigel: “Atah yadata es ha’am ki b’ra hu” – You knew this was going to happen, because there already was a parshas parah.  The mystery of parah adumah is the great mystery of how yediya and bechira coincide.

It was the sin of Adam of eating from the eitz hada'as which brought death into the world.  Therefore, explains the Sefas Emes, for the parah adumah to serve as a metaheir for that tumah of death it must remain an unfathomable mystery, something that our da'as cannot comprehend.  The correction for the pollution of the eitz hada'as must come from a higher source than da'as itself.


  1. Let's go a tiny step further.

    Shlomo Hamelech said, אמרתי אחכמה והיא רחוקה ממני, which chazal say is
    referring to the Parah Adumah.
    The Brisker Rov [IIRC], understands this to mean that when Shlomo Hamelech
    ran into the "problem" of the Parah, he suddenly realized that היא, the entire תורה,
    was רחוקה ממני.
    Because, based on this Chasam Sofer, the entire concept of שכר ועונש and historical
    progression runs into the brick wall between ידיעה ובחירה

    And the only reason I am writing this is because I did.

    1. I think the C.S. in the Derashos explains that's why it's called chukas hatorah and not chukas haparah. But you made me realize there is one other point I should add to the post... I'm going to edit it now.

    2. Which explains the connection between the kabolas torah of Purim and ad d'lo yadah [bain tov l'rah].

    3. It all boils down to the assumption that belief starts as something that resonates inside; the philosophical justifications and fancy intellectual categories only come after the fact. Da'as is a product, not a cause.
      Maimonidean's would probably take issue with that.

  2. To combine the first R' Elchonon in kovetz ma'amorim, and the GR"A, emunah and the recognition of what is proper is within each individual - the chelek Elokah mi'ma'al. It is ga'avah and ta'avah that obscures it.

    Critically, [iterating a recent topic] emunah is in the lev - i.e., emotion. On Purim, the kabbalah stemmed from ahava.

    Thus, Shlomo HaMelech can be understood: I thought I could understand the Torah through chochma, but with that approach, it remained rechoka mimeni.

    Conjecture: the primary destructiveness of the etz ha'da'as was in creating an intellectual, as opposed to an emotional, approach to life. Note that in the ten Sefirot, it one counts Kesser, one cannot count Da'as, and vice versa.

    As in, חשבונות רבים is the antithesis of ישר