"And they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish." (19:2) Rashi cites his rebbe, Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan who explains that symbolically, the Red "Cow" came to atone for the sin of the Golden "Calf," as if to imply, "Let the mother come and clean up the mess left by her child." This explains why the commandment was directed to Aharon, the one who contributed to the creation of the molten calf. This explanation begs elucidation. What does making the Golden Calf have in common with the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, which serves as the paradigm of a chok, a mitzvah for which the rationale is not even remotely discernable. If so, how does the "mother" clean up for her "child?"


The commentators explain that we must first delve into the nature of the Golden Calf and Klal Yisrael's sin in creating it. Moshe ascended Har Sinai due to return in forty days. According to the people's calculations, he was late in returning. Immediately, the people conjectured that he was not coming back. Moshe was gone. They could not wait, and they proceeded to replace him with a golden calf, which they subsequently served amid frolic and debauchery. What do these unconscionable actions teach us? It tells us that during this time, machshavah, rational thought, seichel, common sense, was suddenly suspended. They did the irrational and absurd. Without thinking, they allowed their emotions, their inclinations, to take hold and guide them. Had the people stopped to think - even momentarily - they would have realized that Moshe would return. He was late, but he would return.
It is not as if they did not have other potential leadership. Aharon was available, and so was Yehoshua. Why ignore them in order to create a golden calf? Is this not ludicrous? The people were not thinking. They had lost all sense of rationality.
Hashem rewards and punishes middah k'neged middah, measure for measure. Thus, when the people acted in an irrational manner, Hashem gave them a mitzvah which is beyond human comprehension, one for which there is no sensible rationale.

Hashem gave Klal Yisrael a mitzvah which they cannot question, which they have to accept with complete equanimity. It is as if Hashem is telling the Jewish People, "

When you were prepared to sin with the Golden Calf, you did not think; you did not care; you just acted. I am giving you a mitzvah which you will not question; you will act in accordance with My wishes."
There are many acts in life which we perform without knowing or understanding the reason. We take medicine without knowing how it works. Yet, we take it because we trust our physician.

Are mitzvos any different?

This should be especially true when we place our trust in the true Physician, the One Who truly heals us all.

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