In this week's Torah portion, God tells the Jewish people about a fascinating law they need to follow. The commandant is that if the Jewish people find a cow that's completely red in color, they should burn the cow and use the ashes for a purification process. God tells the Jews that all the people involved in doing this will become spiritually contaminated themselves, but the ashes that result from this burning are then collected and:
"the ash of the cow... is for purification." (Numbers 19:9)
A LIFE LESSON
The law of the red heifer is considered to be a paradox. God said that anyone who's involved in the preparation of producing the ashes from the red cow - whether he is the one who slaughters it, burns it, or collects its ashes - becomes spiritually contaminated. However, the ashes themselves can then be used to purify someone. The very same ashes that made a Jew impure are the exact same ashes that are used to make someone pure. While on the surface this seems highly illogical, there is a powerful life-changing message for us to appreciate in this day and age.
We all engage in some sort of behavior that we want to change. Whether it's our unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, unproductive thoughts, destructive actions, or poor character traits - there are things we all do that we truly wish we didn't.
And we've all reached the point at some moment in our lives when one of these things gets out of hand. We just get fed up with what we're doing, a mental line gets crossed, and we know a serious change must take place. A newfound desire to take action occurs because we see clearly that this behavior is preventing us from living a happy life. Before the change, we first hit rock bottom in this specific area, and experienced a sense of "impurity".
But here's the thing. It was this impure behavior that got to a point where a change had to take place. Therefore, it's actually the negative behavior itself that causes you to change. Sometimes it's the negative association and impact of your poor behavior that serves as the catalyst for this change to take place.
So the very act that was so impure is now the very same act that allows you make a real change.
The ashes of the red cow are impure - just like our poor choices are. But when the discontent or outright disgust of our past behavior becomes the strong impetus to finally take serious action, this negative behavior now becomes the pathway for a purification of your soul.
God doesn't want us to live a life of regret or to beat ourselves up for making the same poor choices over and over again. But God does want us to grow and change, and He's giving us an amazing insight on how to do it in the most healthy way. And that's when you think about your negative behavior and you truly get fed up about it, instead of getting upset for your inability to change, use your frustration, pain, and discontent as the very reason to change.
By doing this, you will have elevated your past impure actions into one of purity. Always remember, God demands that we become great. And He's giving us an amazing vehicle to get there.