Parah Adumah is called a חק, a mitzvah that there is no revealed reason or explanation available. Such a chok arouses much curiosity of the unknown especially since the essence of the mitzvah is a paradox. The ashes and water of the red heifer purifies the person it is sprinkled upon yet it defiles the sprinkler himself. This mitzvah of Parah Adumah especially, can be extra frustrating since there was one person, Moshe Rabbeinu, who actually was told the reason and the spiritual explanation behind it. No one wants to live with a paradox and it begs a solution to the contradiction. Since there is no obvious interpretation we must live with the paradox by calling upon our resources of emunah that in truth, it all makes sense but we are just not privy to it.
This concept is hinted in the word אדומה which are the letters אלף and דום. The letter aleph means to learn wisdom as it is written אאלפך חכמה. The word דום means silent. The word אדומה , doesn’t only describe the color red of the heifer but also conveys the inability to understand the workings of this paradox able mitzvah which its comprehensibility is silenced and not available for public knowledge.
What can we possibly gain from fulfilling such a mitzvah which makes no sense at all? The answer is that we can gain atonement and cleansing from the chait of the Aitz Hadaas. The Sfas Emes writes (Parah תרמז) טומאת מת , the defilement that is activated with the contact of a dead person, is rooted in Adam’s eating from the Aitz Hadaas. With his eating he brought death into the world. He ate from the tree of Knowledge in order to gain a divine and G-dly understanding of life and the universe. Hashem forbade him from attaining such wisdom. By not listening, he brought upon himself and the world a downfall that until the coming of Moshiach is irreparable. Tumas Meis is a constant reminder of Man’s crossing the “red” line into a realm of knowledge that is beyond his vessels and faculties to comprehend.
If the seeking of such knowledge causedטומאת מת , then emunah without using rational intellect will rectify this tumah. Therefore the ashes of the Parah Adumah purifies one who had contact with a corpse for it is a paradoxical mitzvah and listening to Hashem’s words with a ritual, which to the human mind is total irrational, is a tikkun for the sin of the Aitz Hadaas which caused Tumas Meis.
Chazal say that the Satan and world nations ask us about this mitzvah, what טעם reason and explanation can be given to this enigmatic mitzvah? Their questioning is repeating exactly what the Nachash did to Adam and Chavah in Gan Eden. The Nachash told Adam since you are created in the image of Hashem therefore you deserve to share in His intellect as well and know the טעם of His command. Had Adam refused to listen to the apikorsis of the Nachash but rather held on to emunah and restrained from going after the intellect, he would have been able to eat from the Aitz Hachayim and live in OlamHabah of eternal life as the passuk says צדיק באמונתו יחיה. The emunah that a person possesses brings him to a higher level of closeness sometimes more than he could gain with mere intellect and wisdom alone
After Matan Torah, AmYisrael were on the level of Adam Harishon before the chait, and death for them was uprooted. However, after the chait of the Aigel, they once again fell to the point of after the chait of Adam אני אמרתי אלהים אתם אכן כאדם תמותון and death returned to Man. How were these two sins parallel to each other besides with the decree of death? By the chait of the Aigel the Torah describes the remarks of the people when Moshe Rabbeinu failed to descend the mountain asכי זה משה האיש לא ידענו מה היה לו . “We don’t know what happened to him so therefore we need a replacement”. This statement is difficult to understand. Rashi says כי זה משה האיש that the word זה means that they could see Moshe as if he was before their eyes? This comes to tell us that the Satan made a mirage of Moshe being carried in the heavens that they could actually see him dead (see Baal Haturim). As Rashi writes before this, that the Satan created a darkness and confusion in the world conveying that Moshe Rabbeinu has just definitely died and the veil of darkness is a result of his demise. So why then did they say that they didn’t know what happened to him and they need a replacement?
We can answer this question with a gematriah that “מה היה לו” adds up to 101. משה is the revealed letters of his name. The hidden letters are מ ין א which is also gematriah 101. AmYisrael knew the fact that he died even though they weren’t aware that Moshe’s death was only a Satan production, but they sought to know and understand the hidden information and the reason for his sudden death which were the details that they were not privy to. Such as how did Moshe die in heaven and why did Hashem take his life if he was such a giant tzaddik? Such questions should not be asked especially when it happened in shamayim in the presence of Hashem. It is as if one is second guessing Hashem and wants to know what is Hashem’s thought patterns. The question of מה היה לו was inappropriate and the gematriah including its three words is באמונה indicating they should have had emunah and not ask.
This is tantamount to the chait of Adam who felt himself deserving to acquire the knowledge of Hashem as an equal. This inappropriate drive of curiosity overstepping their boundary was the gateway to making the עגל who would serve as source of rational answers to all their questions. This is indicated with the gematriah of עגל which is one higher than אמונה. Their request of עשה לנו אלהים can literally be translated as to “Make for us to be Elohim” just like the Nachash said to Adam and Chavah והייתם כאלקים.
The chait of the Aigel was due to their lack of emunah and their desire to understand everything even Hashem. Chazal say תבוא האם ותקנח צואת בנה that the פרה אדומה which is the mother of the עגל the calf, will come and clean up the excrement of her son. According to what we explained the Aigel came about because of the lack of emunah. The mother which is ParahAdumah functions on emunah and not logic as it is a paradox. Just as the ParahAdumah corrects the chait of the AitzHadaas, so too it rectifies the chait of the Aigel. אם and ובנה equals 104 the same as באמונה.
After the chait of the Aigel the Torah says לא תשתחוו לאל אחר with an enlarged letter ר. By Shema Yisrael ה’ אלקינו ה’ אחד the letter ד is enlarged. Avodah Zarah is an enlarged ריש which symbolizes theראש the intellect of Man. Don’t worship gods for even if they have a big ר they can never answer the questions satisfactorily since their intelligence is limited as much as they are. Even the artificial intelligence of the super sophisticated computer programs which also has become an avodah zarah cannot 100% render the correct absolute answers because it is man’s limited and biased intelligence which was the data programed. Rather choose to believe in the אחד the דלית which means “there is not”. For with emunah in Hashem there are no questions to begin with.
אין כאלקינו and afterwards we see מי כאלקינו. It really should be in the reverse order asking first מי כאלקינו and then answering אין כאלקינו. The answer is that only when one has the immovable emunah shelaimah of אין כאלקינו , then he can ask the intellect to give him answers as well.
Curiosity is not a definite cure for everything. Curiosity peeping into the privacy of others can be damaging and cause serious harm. Sometimes when you get the urge to be curious and you find yourself stepping over the red line obtaining information or knowledge, one must gird himself with emunah and acceptance and realize that even though I am created in the Tzelem Elokim and I possess a neshama, I am not Hashem and I will never be like Him. This information that I seek is none of my business. It is Emunah that can and will bring me closer to Hashem when knowledge is not available. After all, for the Yid knowledge is not to be acquired for the sake of being knowledgeable and impressive but rather to bond deeper with Hashem. Emunah will take you to that destination as well.
– Rav Brazil