Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Ki Sisa - 5777

ATONING WITH PATIENCE

Purim has passed, and we are now preparing for Pesach.  We all have a long to-do checklist, but this week's special reading addresses the ritual purification with the ashes of the red heifer, needed for the bringing of the Korban Pesach.

The rabbis consider these laws as the quintessential CHOK -a law that is beyond human comprehension.  Yet, tradition teaches that the red heifer provides atonement for the sin of the golden calf.  The Sages use the following analogy: “Let the mother (cow) come and clean up the mess of her child (calf).”

Among the many fascinating laws that relate to the preparation of the red heifer ritual is the following one that appears in the Mishna: "There were courtyards in Jerusalem built on rock and below them was hollow because of graves of the deep.  [Stepping over a human grave causes ritually impurity, which can be blocked by a sufficiently wide space between the body and the covering; by building a courtyard over a hollow, one guarantees that any graves which are too deep to be discovered cannot make people in the courtyard above impure.]  They would bring pregnant women to there [these courtyards], and they would give birth there and raise their children there [to ensure that the children never become ritually impure].”

In other words, preparations for the red heifer service started years in advance.  It is very possible that this as well-long term planning- was to atone for the impetuous and impulsive acts that led to the making of the golden calf.

Shabbat Shalom