Chukas opens with the decree of the Red Heifer. Concerning this chukah (a command that has no rational explanation), the Torah states:1 “This is the chukah of the Torah.”

By using the terminology “This is the chukah of the Torah” rather than “This is the chukah of the Red Heifer,” the Torah is indicating2 that of all the inexplicable chukim , this is the most inexplicable. Thus we find3 that even King Solomon, the wisest of men,4 who understood the divine rationale underlying the other chukim , could not fathom the reasoning behind the command of the Red Heifer.

Accordingly, we must understand the statement of the Midrash5 that “G‑d told Moshe: To you I shall reveal the reason of the Heifer.” This seems to indicate that there is a reason for the chukah after all.

This being so, why couldn’t King Solomon fathom it? Additionally, why didn’t Moshe reveal this reason to the Jewish people, as he had done on other occasions6 when G‑d revealed something to him, and Moshe in his goodness revealed it to the nation?

We must therefore say that Moshe did not reveal the reason for the Red Heifer because its rationale is truly incomprehensible to a created being.7 This is why even King Solomon could not fathom it. G‑d in His true limitlessness revealed to Moshe something that a created being could never fathom on his own.

But this leads to yet another question. Why did G‑d not reveal the reason to the Jewish people with the same infinite power that He used to reveal it to Moshe?

One of the interpretations8 of “This is the chukah of the Torah” is that the decree of the Red Heifer is the Torah — a foundation for the entire Torah and its commandments. Even the rational commands are expressions of Divine will,9 and as such they transcend man’s logic; just as no created being can comprehend its Creator,10 it is impossible for any created being to comprehend His will.

This is why the rationale for the Red Heifer remained concealed from all Jews; it was necessary that at least one command remain in a state of chukah, thereby indicating that the rest of the mitzvos were also chukim.11

This is crucial to one’s spiritual service. For if all mitzvos were to have descended to a rational level, their performance would be governed by human understanding. It would then be impossible for a Jew to attain mesirus nefesh , total self-sacrifice for G‑d, a level that transcends the limitations of human intellect.

But according to this, it would seem that G‑d’s revealing of the reason to Moshe was detrimental to him; he was now able to comprehend the rationale for all the commandments, so wasn’t his power of mesirus nefesh stifled?

Moreover, how can one possibly say that a divine revelation could cause a deficiency and inadequacy, rather than being a source of betterment and advancement?

Moshe had attained the level of supernal wisdom,12 a level suffused with self-abnegation, for which reason he was fully capable of receiving the most sublime revelations of G‑dliness.13

Thus, the revelation of the reason for the Red Heifer in no way impeded his ability to perform mitzvos with mesirus nefesh , for that which was revealed to him was not a logical reason. Rather, G‑d’s infinite divine will was revealed within Moshe’s intellect, so that it became Moshe’s essence.

Only one who exists apart from G‑dliness must toil to attain total self-sacrifice for G‑d. Moshe, however, was steeped in G‑dliness; it was his entire being. Thus his very essence displayed mesirus nefesh.14

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, pp. 229-237.