By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
The quintessence and fundamental nature of our devotion to G-d, which is the reason why we where created in the first place, is related to us in the commandment of the red heifer. We are commanded to burn the cow down to ashes, and mix the ashes in a vessel containing pure water, which is sprinkled on an impure person. The combination of “burning” the cow to ashes and “water” is what brings purification to someone who is seriously not pure.
Fire and water, express two opposite elements and very different natures. Yet it is these two factors that are necessary to restore purity, to someone who became impure, and therefore detached from G-d, the source of all blessing.
Fire is the only thing in this world that goes up. Everything yearns to go back to its own source. Fire is in a constant yearning to connect back with its source, which is up. While water, whose source is the ground, will always flow from however high it is, from up to down. Any possibility and avenue that water can find to go all the way down, it will find, and make its way there.
These two features, of fire and water, are at the root and foundation, they are the backbone, to our manner of worship and conduct in this world.
On the one hand, we are expected to feed our fire and spiritual side within, to the point that we experience a desire that nothing in this world is enough. We must reach a point where we want to detach ourselves from this world, because, we feel it is an obstacle and we want to connect with our root and source above. And at the same time, we are expected to live in this world and bring down, into this world, the light and water that are above, down to the farthest extremes of this physical world. So that, it too can be touched and affected, influenced and imbued, with the holiness of above.
The soul inside each one of us, the candle of G-d, and the body, which is mostly water, are exactly these two opposite expressions. The soul being a candle of G-d, desires all the time to go up and higher. By its very nature it seeks to attach to the more sublime and spiritual, while the body whose source is from the earth, is always pulling the person to materialistic and hedonistic pursuits.
A person must find peace between these two opposing forces that cause great inner conflict. On the one hand we run after things that give us immediate gratification, on the other hand we realize how self destructive and unfulfilling that can be, and we search for deeper and more meaningful pursuits.
On the one hand a person must never give up his aspiration and target for more spirituality, in all his accomplishments in life. Everything he comes in contact with, “in all your ways you must know G-d” there has to be a connection with G-dliness. In addition, he must draw holiness down, so that “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven.” Within his day to day pursuits, and tasks, he imbues each and every act of the day in line with G-ds instructions in the Torah – Bible.
The successful blend of these two opposing forces inside each one of us, is apparent in the two central practices of prayer and the study of the Torah – the Bible. Prayer is the special opportunity when we meditate on the greatness of G-d and feed our fire within, to yearn and cleave to G-d above. The study of G-ds wisdom in the Torah – Bible, is compared to the aspect of water. When a person studies the Torah, he is connecting with what is above, and draws down, G-ds wisdom, into all aspects of this lowly world.
The red heifer is a reminder and a strength. Only by combining the fire and water, which is possible only in G-ds world, we reach inner peace and purity.
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