“REPENT! The end is drawing near!” So says the preacher in Stamford Hill. We laugh her off (and rightfully so). She is crazy after all.
How do I know when Hashem has spoken to someone? Hearing intelligent words from a rabbi or another person can be convincing, but what if they instruct me to do something I do not (and cannot understand)?
Though we have already been commanded to be careful not to wear shatnez (and other ‘chukim’, super rational mitzvot0 we are only, properly introduced to the concept of Chukim in this week’s portion. The law of the Red Heifer – ParahAdumah, how it is prepared and how it brings purity to one who has come into contact with the dead, is called ‘the chok of the Torah’. Why is that after forty years in the desert, we are now being taught that mitzvoth (or at least certain ones) are beyond (our) understanding? Is there a connection between this and the prior Torah portions?
I believe that Behaalotchah, Shlach and Korach, all demonstrate our belief in Moshe and in his uniqness. Miriam and Ahron spoke ill of Moshe because they assumed that he was a prophet just like them. G-d responded, “If there be prophets among you…I will speak to him in a dream. Not so my servant Moshe.. I speak mouth to mouth; in a vision and not in riddles…”. Moses is on a totally different plane. His prophecy is completely different than all other prophets.
The kabbalists explain the sin of the spies. The land of the seven nations (Israel) is connected with the Breaking of the seven Midot of the world of Tohu. Those tremendous sparks of holiness fell. The arrival of the Jewish people heralded an era of fixing and elevating those sparks. Midot can be intense and leave no space for another view point. Think of your child in a temper tantrum… The spies were afraid to enter the Land and face those challenges. “VayahasKalev et Ha-Am El Moshe”, “Kalev silenced the people towards Moses”. The words “towards Moses” seem superfluous. Kalev attempted to silence them by connecting them to Moshe. Moshe is ultimate humility, the very emitome of it and symbolises complete subservience to Hashem. G-d’s will is to conquer the land (and our Midotetc) and we certainly can.
The Talmud tells us of an Arab who told Rabbi..about an amazing thing in the desert. Rabbah bar bar Hana bent down to listen to listen, and he heard a voice (Korach’s voice), emanating from the bowels of the earth, saying, “Moses and his Torah are true, but Korah’s company are liars.”and heard a voice (Korach’s voice) emenating from the bowels of the earth “Moshe Emet V’Torato Emet”. Moshes is true and His Torah is true too.
If we see (and accept), Moshe superior prophecy, His humility and the truth of His teachings, we will be ready to accept Chukim. All that he teaches us is the word of Hashem whether we understand it or not.
Let us hearken to do the words of our Chachamim, representatives of Moshe. Though we may not always understand their pronouncements we accept that they have superior knowledge and humility not to be making anything up on their own.