This section of the Torah relating to the laws of the ashes of the Red Heifer includes the phrase: "This is the statute of the Torah." (Num. 19:1)

All the varieties of defilement in the Torah and their corresponding purification rites can be understood in terms of their relative proximity to death. Clearly, though, the most fundamental form of defilement is the absolute, unmitigated apparition of death itself: a lifeless, human corpse.

Death is the antithesis of holiness….

Death is the antithesis of holiness, for G‑d is the source of life and vitality. Thus, any contact with death or potential death produces the ritual defilement that excludes an individual from entering the Tabernacle (or later, the Temple), the realm of holiness. When confronted with the reality of death, we become exposed to the contagious influence of the law of entropy: the natural reality that everything is decaying, dying, headed toward oblivion, and that life is futile and meaningless. This depressing worldview is diametrically opposed to our divine mission, which asserts that there is purpose to life and affirms that fulfilling it is indeed possible and therefore results in a spiritual paralysis.

In order to regain entry into the realm of pure life, the individual must undergo a purification process, which serves to cure his depression (real or potential) and reorient him back toward the enthusiasm and vitality of holiness.

Because the defilement of death is the source of all others, its purification rite is the most extreme and most mysterious in the entire Torah. As we said, the law of nature indeed decrees that sooner or later everything and everyone will succumb to death. To defy this law is to defy logic, and, therefore, the rite of purification from death hails from a level of existence that defies logic; it is a "statute", a seemingly arbitrary expression of G‑d's will, devoid of logical rationale and even contravening logic altogether.

Based on Likutei Sichot, vol. 4, p. 1058

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