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Rambam (Hil. Mikvaot 11:12: "It is clear and revealed that tumaah (impurity) and Taharah (purity) are a divine decree". The lesson in Avodat HaAdam (5734 Vol XIII, 13 Pg. 66)  


1. In conjunction to what is stated in the beginning of our Parsha (Num. 19:2):

“This is the statute of the Torah”

The Midrash cites the verse:

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean one?”

And continues with many examples in the aspect of Tuma (impurity) where we find contradictions (דבר והיפוכו)

(e.g. a “baheret” (a very intense white blemish that resembles snow on human skin) the size of a gris (a small coin) on a person is Tuma whereas if it spread over his entire body completely, it is Tahor/pure, and others).

And he concludes:

“Who commanded so, who decreed so? Is it not the Master of the world (יחידו של עולם). . G-d said, 'I have engraved a rule, I have decreed a decree, and you have no permission to transgress what I decreed (חקה חקקתי גזרה גזרתי אי אתה רשאי לעבור על גזרתי), as it says, "This is a Chok (rule) of the Torah."

Since the Midrash cites many aspects of the statutes regarding Tuma and Tahara, in the same section with the statute (of our Parsha) of Parah Adumah. Moreover, it is in continuation to what is stated, “This is the statute of the Torah”.  This proves that the Midrash explains that, “This is the statute of the Torah” is alluded to (not (just) in the statute of Parah Adumah, but rather (also) the “statute” in the general aspect of Tuma and Tahara. Namely, that there is a common thread (צד השווה) in all the examples – which also includes the aspect of Parah Adumah.

In other words, the “statute” of Parah Adumah is not just a decree of the specific laws of the Heifer, but rather it is also a decree in the general aspect of Tuma and Tahara that comes through the Heifer.

As the Sages state, “a corpse does not defile and the water does not purify, rather G-d said, 'I have engraved a rule etc., as it says, "This is a chok (rule) of the Torah."

This is explained more generally in the words of Rambam:

“It is a clear and apparent matter that the concepts of purity and impurity are Scriptural decrees and they are not matters determined by a person's understanding and they are included in the category of Statues/Chukim. “

This means that even though, “This is the statute of the Torah” is spoken, with regard to the impurity of a corpse (לטומאת מת) and its purification, like the plain meaning of the verses. Nevertheless, this also comes to allude to the ‘statute’ that exists within the general aspect of Tuma and Tahara.

2. It is known, that all aspects of Torah contain a lesson in the Avodah of each and every person of Bnei Yisroel – in all places and at all times. This is as it states, “the Torah is eternal”.

Moreover, even the Mitzvot, and the laws of the Torah that were followed just in the time when the Temple stood etc., are just related to their physical observance. However, spiritually, even these Mitzvot are above the boundaries of time and place.

The same is in our case:

The primary fulfillment of the laws of Tuma and Tahara is in the time when the Temple stands. However, the subject of their aspects in spiritual Avodah, exist and are relevant in all times and places.

Another point in this:

The lesson of “This is the statute of the Torah” is relevant to each person, even to those who “do not understand what they are saying” (לא ידעי מאי קאמרי)

For even they recite a blessing on the Torah – from the word Hora’ah – lesson – when they read this Parsha (in the Written Torah). However, in the study of the particulars in the Oral Torah – one recites a blessing only when one understands the study. From this it is understood, that the lesson to each and every person is not from the detailed laws (which are above the understanding of a simple person) but rather, from the general aspect (מכללות הענין) of “This is the statute of the Torah”.

3. This can be understood by prefacing the well-known explanation in the verse, “This is the statute of the Torah” (for seemingly it should have said, “this is the statute of the Heifer”).

Namely, that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah has a theme (תוכן) that is found in the “Torah”, in general. This is what is meant by, “This is the statute of the Torah”. Namely, that this statute regarding the Heifer is the statute of the entire Torah.

This has been explained at length (c.f Likkutei Sichos vol. 4 pg. 1056). For they are dependent upon each other:

This Mitzvot, being a “statute” (even with regard to the other Mitzvot in the category of Statutes), is therefore (and in this itself) the entirety (כללות) of all the Mitzvot.

The reason is:

The essence of all the Mitzvot is the Supernal Will (רצון העליון), which is above the level of wisdom and reason. Even the Mitzvot  that have a reason, the aspect is not that their essence is wisdom, but rather that that the Supernal Will, blessed be He, is drawn and enclothed in the level of wisdom and reason.

However, their essential essence (מהותן העצמי) even after they have become enclothed (in physicality), is the Supernal Will.

Therefore, the fulfillment of all the Mitzvot – even those that are understood according to wisdom and reason – need to be specifically in this manner:

One must fulfill them not because intellect and comprehension dictate, but rather (like the text of the blessing on Mitzvot) because “He commanded us” – namely, because this is G-d’s decree of – the Supernal Will.

This is the intent of the verse “This is the statute of the Torah”:

Although Mitzvot are divided, in general, into three categories, Statutes, Testimonies and Judgements. Nevertheless, the essential essence of all the Mitzvot of the Torah – even the category of Testimonies and Judgements - are a “Statute”.

Moreover, they are all in the level of “This is the statute (of the Torah)”.  The statute of the Parah Adumah, that even Shlomo, the wisest of all men, said regarding it, “I said I would be wise, but it is far from me” - is completely above the realm of wisdom.

4. Because of this aspect (Will and Statute) of the Mitzvot – we find many things that are equal in all Mitzvot.  So much so that the Sages state, “One should not sit and weigh the Mitzvot of the Torah etc.”

The difference between the power of will, versus the power of wisdom (and specifically the internal powers of the person), is explained in many places:

Wisdom comes with division (בהתחלקות)

“Both in general division, where one intellectual concept is not similar to another, as well as specific divisions within each concept itself, that specifically comes with many details.

However, will does not have the level of division.

Neither general division nor specific division. In other words, besides that which it (will) does not possess the division in the details of the aspects. For in each part of the matter, his desires is equal. So too, it (will) is not divided with general division (בהתחלקות כללי) in the aspects that he desires. One does not say that in this thing, the will in is a certain manner; and in this, the will is in a another matter. For will does not change according to the manner of the aspects that one desires”.

The same is regarding the Mitzvot of the Torah. Since they are the Supernal Will, they do not have division. Therefore, “there are times that a part of the Mitzvot is not anything, and there are times where a part of the Mitzvah is like the entire Mitzvah” (ולכן לפעמים מקצת מהמצוה אינו כלום ולפעמים חלק מהמצוה היא ככולה).

5. This point is expressed in the general law of Tuma and Tahara:

(as aforementioned, (par 1). Namely, that “This is the statute of the Torah” (also) refers to all the impurities and purities).

  1. From the Torah (מה״ת), it is impossible that Tuma should rest just on part of the body. If a person touches (with one of his limbs) something that defiles, the entire body is defiled, though the contact.
  2. A person is defiled through any (כלשהי) contact with Tuma. In other words, even if it is just an outward and superficial (שטחית) relation to the thing that defiles. Nevertheless, he becomes impure through this, with the same force, that he would become impure though eating an impure thing.
  1. On a deeper level:

In this contact itself – there is no difference whether he willingly touched it, or whether the contact was unwittingly or even by accident - where “the Torah exempts him”

This means, not only a slight physical contact, but even if spiritually, it was just a “touching” in an extremely remote manner – for it was not his intent, or it may have even been against his will – nevertheless, he becomes defiled through this.

  1. Even the result of the Tuma that defiles the person, is absolute (with regard to his connection to holiness). The Tuma does not just cause within him a specific lack in his relation to holiness. Rather, he goes out through it. All his visible relation to holy aspects are severed. He may not eat a holy thing (the holy thing is not able to be absorbed in – the blood and flesh of his body). Moreover “he may not come to the Temple”.

The reason for all this is:

In the aspect of Tuma and Tahara, the Supernal Will visibly illuminates. Therefore, it is visibly seen and recognized in them the lack of division and the change between many and few (רב למעט). There is no difference from the perspective of the manner of the relation of the person to the Tuma. For even through an outward relation (whether it be physical – a slight contact, or spiritual – even by accident (אונס)) to the impure thing, he becomes entirely impure (both physically – all of his body as one; as well as spiritually  – the severing of his visible relation to holiness).

6. This aforementioned aspect in the Avodah of each and every person is:

The sages state, “One should not sit and weigh the Mitzvot of the Torah”, and “Be as careful with a minor Mitzvah as with a major one”. This means that it is incumbent on a person to be scrupulous in each Mitzvot equally.

Even though there is room to claim:

How is it possible to be careful in a minute aspect of the words of the Sages (Sofrim) (בדקדוק קל של ד״ס) with the same care as one should be with the “severest of the severe” (חמורה שבחמורות)?

The non-carefulness in the “small minutiae” (of the words of the Sages, itself) is just an inadvertent “contact” (״נגיעה״ לבד) with evil. How is it possible to compare it to the non-carefulness of the “severest of the severe”? This difference of “light” and “severe” is itself stated in the Torah, which is the Torah of truth (Torat Emet).

To this, comes the lesson from the aspect of Tuma:

  • From the level of reason and comprehension of the Mitzvot, there are differences of levels in the Mitzvot (Statutes, Testimonies, and Laws; light and severe)
  • However, from the perspective of the essence of the Mitzvot which is the Supernal Will, there are no divisions.

In the Avodat HaAdam who fulfills the Mitzvot:

“Corresponding to the extent and specific nature of the blemish caused by the sin in the soul . . are the various purifying processes and punishments etc.”

(Similarly, this is with regard to the reward of the Mitzvot etc.).

However, from the perspective of the main point of the Mitzvot, which through their fulfillment there becomes a connection and attachment (tzavta v’chibur -from the word Mitzvah) with G-d, this is in all Mitzvot .

Therefore, even a “slight contact” with a thing that is opposite the Supernal Will affects the entire connection with G-dliness.

7. The aforementioned lesson, is relevant - and therefore demanded – from each and every person, even from the simplest of the simple.

(Which is why this lesson comes from the general import of the laws of Tuma and Tahara (and not from the detailed laws in this) –

For the connection is also to those who “do not understand what they are saying” (לא ידעי מאי קאמרי)” (as aforementioned par 2).

This aforementioned feeling in the fulfilment of Mitzvot  – namely that even the carefulness in the minutest aspect of Mitzvot is something that is relevant to one’s entire connection to G-dliness – comes from part of the Essence of the soul that is above reason and intellect. This is like the well-known saying “a Jew does not want and is not able to be separated from G-dliness”. This feeling is within each and every one of Bnei Yisroel.

Even though it is impossible, as is understood, to constantly stand at this level – namely, where his connection to G-d, due to the essence of his soul, is visibly illuminated within him, - during his Avodah throughout the entire year and throughout the entire day. For Avodat HaShem is specifically in an ordered manner.

Nevertheless, when he awakens this in his soul, at specific times in the year,

(Among them being when he reads this Parsha in the Torah. For then he is like “one who delves into the laws of the korban Olah is as if he offered the Olah”).

And  a trace of this is recognizable in his Avodah that is according to reason and intellect throughout the entire year and the entire day.  Then, he feels the great severity and lacking by contact whatsoever, with something that is undesirable.

8. This aforementioned lesson, exists even with regard to a person’s Avodah with another:

When one endeavors to draw close the hearts of Bnei Yisroel to G-d and to His Torah and Mitzvot, it is possible that he thinks in his heart, that if he is able to accomplish in influencing the other to be careful in stringent Mitzvot, or in general Torah and Mitzvot observance, that it is sufficient. And there is no necessity to endeavor with such a great and involved effort, even to the point of exhaustion (מיצוי הנפש), in order to influence the other to be careful even in the minor minutiae of the Sages.

To this comes the aforementioned answer:

Just as it is from the side of the undesired (הבלתי-רצוי), namely that through the slightest contact with an evil thing, it may affect, G-d forbid, one’s entire connection to G-d. So too, it is on the positive side. It is possible that through influencing another to be careful in the aspect of Torah and Mitzvot, even if it is in the level of slight “contact”, he is taken out, through this, from his condition, that is in the depths (בעומק תחת) and he is raised higher and higher (מעלה מעלה), until the highest high (לעומק רום).

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Tzav, Parshat Parah, 5733

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