It seems that every couple of years, somewhere in the world—in Israel, the United States or elsewhere—rumors begin to swirl that a para aduma, a red heifer, has been discovered. For weeks and months thereafter, the cow is observed very carefully. Chazal inform us that there were nine para adumas brought from the time of Moshe through the second Beit Hamikdash. The discovery of a para aduma today would potentially be a sign, some say, that the times of Moshiach may be upon us, as the para aduma is required for the process of ritual purification, needed by all to enter the Beit Hamikdash. In describing the requirements of the para aduma, the Torah says that the animal may not have any blemish, and must also have never worn a yoke. The Chozeh of Lublin explains that, on a deeper level, we can contrast these requirements with a person. As human beings, we all have blemishes. If a person is arrogant enough to claim that he or she does not have any blemishes, then he or she clearly does not have the “yoke of Heaven” upon them. Part of our service of Hashem is understanding His greatness and our imperfections. Only Hashem is perfect. For many of us, internalizing this thought makes us better and stronger people. It gives us the ability to overcome disappointment as well as mistakes that we make over time. The more we are familiar with ourselves and our shortcomings, the greater people we can be. This process of understanding who we are as individuals is actually part of the process of serving Hashem. May we strive to be self aware, thereby helping ourselves be better servants of Hashem.
By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler
Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ, and is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected]