Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week’s Energy for Parshas Chukas- Rav DovBer Pinson

Re-Entering Life by Rav DovBer Pinson
 In this week’s Torah reading, Miriam and Aaron, sister and brother of Moshe, pass on. The Torah then speaks of the Tuma/impurity of death and the ritual purification of the Parah Adumah/ Red Heifer for those who have come in contact with death.
The Torah reading opens with the words; “Hashem spoke to Moshe… take a perfectly red unblemished heifer… slaughter it… The heifer shall then be burned…Anyone who touches a human corpse shall become impure…(if) he does not purify himself, he has defiled the Temple…Take for that impure person from the ashes of the burnt offering (the red heifer) and it shall be placed in a vessel with spring water…take the hyssop and dip it into the water and sprinkle it on him…”(19:1-18)
This, in short, is the ritual of purifying a person who has become impure through contact with a corpse. There is a sprinkling with a solution of the red heifer ashes and spring water on specific days, followed by immersion in a ritual pool of water.
Tahara/ Purity and Tuma /impurity are intrinsically related to the life/death cycle, and are clearly unrelated to personal hygiene or disease. Tuma is connected to all forms of “death” and the mortality of life, both literally and figuratively. Conversely, Tahara is connected to “life,” both literally and figuratively, and immortal forces of life, such as the Temple and spring water.
Life is movement and possibility. Death is an ‘end’, a state of stagnation.
In death, at least in the physical realm, there is a stopping, a ceasing of hope, a cessation of movement and possibility. To be impure implies a connection with a ‘hopelessness’ consciousness. Purity, on the other hand, is all that is related with life, fluidity and newness, and all that stems from a place of possibility and hope.
The Beis HaMikdash/ Temple functioned as a place ofHischadshus/Renewal. It served as a space in which one could recapture a sense of awe in creation and the Creator. To enter the Temple, one had to be ritually pure, vested with life and possibility.
Every moment in creation is brand new, freshly born, from Ayin/pure potential, no-thing-ness to Yesh/existence.
Each breath, a new Divine enlivening force enters, and is exhaled into creation.
The Temple, being the epicenter of all space, is the place in which this renewal spirit is realized. As a demonstration of this reality, the Showbreads never grew stale, the bread in the temple always tasted completely fresh even if baked a week before.(Chagigah 26b). Everything of the Temple was fresh and new.
The Temple in Jerusalem was built upon the site on which Yaakov/Jacob once slept and dreamed of the ladder and angels. (Bereishis. 28:12-18).When he awoke from this dream, he proclaimed, “Surely Hashem is in this place; and I knew it not.” If Yaakov had been aware of the holiness and purity of the place on which he stood, he would not have been able to sleep. Sleep is a minor form of death, static, stagnant – Yaakov was troubled that he had not tapped into the renewal spirit of the place and was able to go into a space of ‘death.’
Though the ultimate mystery and paradoxical nature of the Red Heifer is beyond our comprehension (Midrash Rabba, 19:3) the specific symbolism is very pronounced. Ashes and water are mixed and sprinkled. When ashes and water mix it creates a form of soap, a cleansing, but there is something deeper occurring. Water is fluidity and life, pure and renewed.
Water is the primordial state of creation, when creation exists in the cosmic womb as pure potential. Ashes represent the end of an old and the potential of a new, the dust returns to dust and thus a new cycle of life begins.
There is Afar/earth and there is Eifar/ dust or ash. (Bereishis, 18:27)Earth represents the Ayin/ no-thing-ness of the Yesh/ existence, as the earth contains the potential of vegetation, yet, Eifer/ash is the deeper Ayin, the Ayin that is relatively beyond Yesh, pure potential. The ritual sprinkling of ash and water reconnects us with the cycle of life and potential of the new.
With all this symbolism and ritual though, it is imperative that we remember, in the words of our Sages “The corpse does not defile, nor does the water purify, rather it is a Mitzvah of the King of Kings.”
Ultimately, it is our connection to Hashem, the source of all Reality, of all Life, the One who brings death to the living and brings the dead to life that offers us renewal, hope and thus Tahara, a fresh breath of life.
 To live in this world is to be touched continuously by both life and death.
All people experience some form of death within their lifetimes, unfortunately it is often tragic and heartbreaking.
Sometimes it is a symbolic death, an ending.
In either sense, death can seem a hopeless ending, a place that is cut off from all possibility of growth.
The energy of the Torah reading this week is the infusion of openness and newness into a place of hopelessness.
Just as ashes return to the earth and begin a life cycle anew, the ashes of the red heifer mix with the water to create a state of purity and life, allowing those who have been in contact with death to find new breath and life in their future.
To move forward from a place of Tuma, we must first immerse in water – fully enveloping ourselves in our primordial state, and reconnecting with the unity of Hashem, source of all – both life and death. From this place of oneness we can find our innate breath and source of life and move forward into life and hope.
This week become aware of how a death, real or symbolic, may be holding you back from life.
This can even be a holding on to a perception, or a way of being, that can be preventing you from growth and forward movement.
Be open to newness of ideas, and new ways of approaching the old ideas.
Come back to your life with an open mind, an open heart and the constant possibility of forward movement.   http://iyyun.com/

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