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    Parashat Hukat begins
    with the command
    of the Para Aduma,
    the red cow which
    was slaughtered and
    then burned into ashes. These ashes were
    mixed with water that would be used to
    purify people and objects that had become
    impure through contact with a human
    The Torah introduces this Misva with the
    words “Zot Hukat Ha’Torah” – “This is
    the statute of the Torah.” Curiously, the
    Torah does not write, “This is the statute
    of the red heifer,” or “This is the statute
    of impurity and purification,” but rather,
    “This is the statute of the Torah.” Why is
    the law of the Para Aduma referred to as
    “Hukat Ha’Torah”?
    The Or Ha’haim Ha’kadosh (Rav Haim
    Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) explains this
    introductory verse by noting the Halacha
    established by the Gemara (Nazir 61b),
    and codified by the Rambam (Hilchot
    Tum’at Met, chapter 1), that the status of
    Tum’a is unique to Am Yisrael. A gentile
    who touches a corpse, or is under the
    same roof as a corpse, is not Halachically
    affected in any way. Although a human

    corpse generates Tum’a, it is only Am
    Yisrael that can be affected and rendered
    Tameh through contact with a corpse. The
    reason, the Or Ha’haim explains, is that
    Am Yisrael received the Torah, through
    which we became sacred. The forces
    of impurity are attracted to sources of
    sanctity because they can thereby “feed”
    off the Kedusha to sustain themselves.
    Therefore, these forces are attracted
    specifically to the Jewish Nation, which
    stood at Mount Sinai and received the
    Torah, thereby becoming sacred.
    The Or Ha’haim draws an analogy to the
    situation of two containers that are placed
    outside – one filled with sweet honey,
    and the other filled with dirt and refuse.
    The one filled with honey quickly attracts
    countless flies and insects, whereas only a
    few creatures are drawn to the container
    filled with trash. Similarly, the Or Ha’haim
    writes, our acceptance of the Torah makes
    us susceptible to the forces of impurity,
    and for this reason, only we can attain the
    status of Tum’a through contact with a
    human corpse.
    The Or Ha’haim explains on this basis the
    phrase, “Zot Hukat Ha’Torah.” It means
    that the laws of Tum’a are a function

    of the Torah, a consequence
    of our having accepted the
    Torah, whereby we became a
    special, sacred people, a status
    which makes us susceptible to
    The Or Ha’haim adds that this
    answers the question of why
    Hashem did not command Beneh
    Yisrael to purify themselves
    before offering the Korban
    Pesach in Egypt on the night
    of the Exodus. In preparation
    for this sacrifice, G-d issued
    two commands relevant to this
    offering: the law excluding from
    this sacrifice men who had not received a
    Berit Mila, and the exclusion of idolaters.
    However, G-d did not present the rule
    that those who are Tameh may not bring
    the sacrifice, a rule which applies to all
    sacrifices. Beneh Yisrael were not required
    to undergo purification before offering the
    Korban Pesach in Egypt. The reason, the
    Or Ha’haim explains, is that there was no
    Tum’a before Matan Torah. It was only
    after our ancestors received the Torah at
    Sinai that they rose to the level where they
    were susceptible to ritual impurity.

    The practical lesson for is that our unique
    status of Kedusha makes us spiritually
    vulnerable. Specifically because we
    have committed ourselves to Torah,
    a commitment which infuses us with
    holiness, we are fragile, and can be
    tarnished through exposure to Tum’a. We
    must be cognizant of the special status of
    Kedusha that we have attained through
    our dedication to Misvot, and understand
    the great responsibility that comes with
    this status, the obligation to carefully
    and vigilantly protect our souls from