The Creator speaks to Moses and Aaron, saying “this is the decree (chukat) of the Torah which the Lord commanded (…)” (Numbers 19:1). The sentence emphasizes Divine authority with the words “decree” and “commanded”, meaning that nobody has the right to challenge or question such decree, according to Rashi. This is also applied to all God’s Commandments in the Torah. How can we question or challenge the will of our Creator? How can we dare to question the air that keeps us alive? Still, it seems that our free will (given to us also by God’s love) has the choice to challenge His works. Or is it rather our ego’s choice?
This particular decree refers to sacrifice a red cow that its ashes are empowered by God in a “burnt purification offering” (19:17) in order to clean those who have been in contact with a corpse. We understand this as being in contact with death, that which separates us from true life. Why a red cow and not one of the other animals mentioned as possible offerings in the Tabernacle or Temple? This is one of the Divine mysteries that none of our Sages have been able to decipher, including the cleverest man who ever lived: King Solomon. In the literal meaning we understand that it is a special animal, “a perfectly red unblemished cow upon which no yoke was laid” (17:2).Like other qualified animals, it may represent a human trait that, when transformed through fire (God’s love) has the power to redeem us from death.
In this context, that particular transformed human trait has that power. Mystic Sages relate the ashes of the red cow to the final Redemption when death will be vanished from the world. The point here is not to determine a particular human trait that we have to direct in order to achieve our final Redemption. The point is that we must direct all our traits, all levels and aspects of consciousness to God’s will, which is being and doing His ways and attributes. This is what truly redeems us from the darkness of materialistic illusions.
The preeminence of God’s will, as a decreed principle, is reaffirmed again in the episode when Moses doubted His transforming and redeeming power: “Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and speak to the rock in their presence so that it will give forth its water. You shall bring forth water for them from the rock and give the congregation and their livestock to drink.” (20:8).
In this verse we learn that the staff represents the direction that our higher awareness (Moses and Aaron) demands from all aspects and dimensions of consciousness (the twelve Tribes of Israel represented by the rock). God wants us to speak to the rock so that it may give forth its water, what keeps us alive in the desert where we are free from the illusions of the world. This water is Love concealed in the darkness of the lower aspects of our consciousness.
When love speaks, the concealed Light is revealed and our awareness is able to realize our Oneness with the Creator. All we have to do is to be love, to manifest love and to speak love, for God’s love is the fire that transforms the negative aspects of consciousness into expressions of love. Only love has the power to reveal love concealed in the obscure dimensions of Creation. And this water, this revealed love, nurtures not only our spiritual awareness but also the material aspects of our lives (“for them and their livestock to drink”).
Our higher consciousness (Moses and Aaron) is not free from making mistakes. Our sense of righteousness can make us harsh and tough when we discipline our mind, thoughts, emotions, passions and instincts. We seem to have great difficulty in harmonizing all aspects of consciousness in our battles to defeat ego’s fantasies and illusions. However, we know God’s love liberates us from ego’s domains, from the bondage in Egypt. Therefore knowing this Truth implies trusting this Truth. Moses’ transgression by striking and not speaking to the rock, as God commanded Him, questioned His transforming and redeeming power even in the hardest and darkest dimensions of our consciousness.
Moses, our beloved teacher and the greatest of all Jewish prophets, questioned God’s love by challenging his people’s abilities to embrace His will as their Essence and true identity. Moses had every reason to doubt his people’s commitment to be God’s chosen to create for Him a place to dwell in the world, a commitment to fulfill the mission to reveal love as Light from the darkness of the material world.
This doubt was based on the several times the children of Israel, in spite of amazing miracles, questioned their Redeemer’s guidance. The lesson to learn here for Moses and Aaron, as the symbols of our higher Divine awareness, for Israel, and for the rest of the world is that the power of God’s love is boundless, all-encompassing, and eternal.
Love as the material manifestation of God’s love is everywhere, manifest and concealed, and our mission in this world is to reveal His Presence where and when He is concealed. Only those who are permanently aware of God’s attributes are the ones who allow Him to fight our battles in order to conquer the nations (the lower aspects of consciousness) and settle forever in the Promised Land.