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Reviving the Dead

Friday, 12 July, 2019 - 3:54 pm

Sometimes, we might feel dead inside. Yes, we are physiologically alive. But, our motivation has been sapped, our movement is heavy and the outlook looks bleak.

The factors may be internal or external, but the dilemma is the same. How do I crawl out of this sad state?

***

This week’s parsha, Chukat, talks about the laws of ritual impurity and purity. There are many causes for a person to wind up in a state of ritual impurity. None of them have anything to do with hygiene or health.

Similarly, the path to ritual purity is not through a physician or shower.

The concept of ritual purification is described by the Torah itself as a supra-rational concept. In fact, it is the name of the parsha. The opening words, “Zot chukat haTorah,” mean “This is the supra-rational law of the Torah.”

The Torah goes on to prescribe the purification process for a person that has come in contact with a deceased body. A special mixture, including the ashes of a red heifer, are sprinkled on the person. Afterwards the individual is required to immerse in a mikvah, a ritual body of water.

This unique ritual perplexed the wisest of men, including King Solomon.

***

Although we cannot understand the nature of purification, we can still learn critical life lessons from the Torah’s instructions.

When I am feeling myself dead inside, it’s time for purification. The pathway to purification might be unknown. In fact, it might be illogical.

Taking heed of the Torah’s guidance, two steps to purification are evident.

Just as the ritually impure person – who had ‘touched’ death – was required to subjugate himself to the humbling ritual of the ashes of the red heifer, so too must I remove any sense of ego in order to rid myself of deathly depression and apathy.

And, I too need to immerse in the refreshing, life-giving waters. I may not know the perfect antidote to my emotional challenges, but throwing myself into ‘life-giving’ mitzvot, projects and Torah study will bring me purity.

It’s not always rational. It might seem irrational. But it is the path forward.

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