Parshas Chukas: The nature of the beast (or the cow!)

Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength!

What does one do about a bad character trait, a part of his nature that he’s not crazy about?
Well, many people would tell you to eradicate it.
But perhaps that’s not actually necessary.
Parshas Chukas discusses the laws of the Red Heifer used in the Tabernacle to purify people who were ritually impure.
The Torah is usually very specific when describing commandments. When the Torah speaks about the Passover Sacrificial lamb, it calls it ‘the statute of the Passover’. However, the laws of the Red Heifer are introduced as ‘the Statute of the Torah’.
Why the vague description? Wouldn’t ‘the statute of purity’ make a better headline?
The red heifer is an interesting creature. It’s ashes could ‘purify the impure and impurify the pure’.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein explains that this is really a principal that can be applied to the entire Torah. Generally, actions or deeds aren’t inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Those categorizations depend on the context in which the action was done. Take picking up an item. If the object was something you found in the street and you intended to return it, picking it up was the right thing to do. if you found that item in someone’s home, and you’re intention was to steal it, then that act becomes a sin.
The same hold true with character traits. Contrary to what we often think, a trait is only as good as the situation it is used in. When we are protecting the honour of G-D, anger may be appropriate (although, in this case, we would need to check ourselves uber-carefully first!). Kindness to the wrong people is misplaced, as history has shown us (think: the Munich Agreement).
Perhaps, therefor, the answer to the problem of having a nature that gets you into trouble is to channel it differently. Recent studies have found that lazy people are often more intelligent than those of us who are more active (which is certainly a compliment to the author of this post!). That doesn’t mean that lazy so-and-sos don’t need to pull their socks up. Rather, that same laziness that kept you in bed for an extra hour could allow you to spend time thinking and brainstorming in quiet times.
Let’s not change our unique natures, but use them correctly.

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