Since this week the Torah portion of Chukat is read, I thought it would be appropriate to modify my classic essay on the topic of the Red Heifer, entitled Ruste Taurus, which is latin for "Red Cow." Here is a sample of the new additions to the essay:
Continue Reading Ruste Taurus...
The Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Fatiyah (1859-1942) offers a simple answer to the
famous question as to why he upon whom the waters of the Red Heifer are
sprinkled becomes pure, while the one who sprinkles the water becomes impure.
The degree of impurity of the sprinkler is such that he is merely required to
immerse into the Mikveh and wait for nightfall to become cleansed of his ritual
impurity. According to the Talmud, one who was ritually impure by coming in
contact with a dead corpse, must be sprinkled twice over the span of a week with
the water and ashes of the ruste Taurus, in order to become pure. After that
week of sprinklings, he need only immerse in the Mikvah in order to achieve
purity. Thus, the sprinkler and the sprinkled upon have the same degree of
ritual impurity at the end of the ceremony. The explanation is that the ashes
and water of the red heifer have a supernatural ability to transform anyone from
whatever status of impurity he is currently in to the status of a person who
requires immersion in the mikveh and nightfall (like the status of any Ba'al
Keri who experiences a seminal emission). Therefore, one who was so impure that
he had a seven-day impurity called Tamei Meis, lowers his level of impurity and
becomes a normal Tevol Yom, who only requires immersion and nightfall. On the
other hand, one who is pure raises his level of impurity to become like a normal
Tevol Yom, who requires immersion and nightfall. The ashes of the red heifer are
like a balance to equalize the equation between the pure and the impure. Rabbi
Fatiyah compares this idea to certain medicines, which if ingested by someone
healthy can sicken the person, but if ingested by the ill can heal them.