As far as international current events go, today was not the best of days. With terror attacks striking 3 continents, one begins to wonder just what exactly this world is coming to. 

 The cause for, and reasoning (if any could be found) behind terror attacks are much discussed topics. Poverty, lack of education, revenge, religious intolerance and delusion are among reasons you might hear. "If only they were given a chance to be educated instead of indoctrinated" or "If only they would think for themselves and get the religion out of their heads, we'd be much better off" are common arguments. Belief and religion are oft seen as backward setting, outdated and even dangerous trends.

 The prevalent, modern way of thinking suggests that the more educated, freethinking and ideologically independent the individual, the more tolerant and understanding he or she will be.

 There is much merit to such a viewpoint. The Torah describes the human soul, as opposed to the animal kingdom, as "the Soul of Thought". A human being's greatest gift is his or her intellect, and objective understanding of the world around us. Freethinking, speculation and critical analysis are very positive traits. But is there still room for good-old faith?

 This week's Torah portion begins with telling us about the red heifer, a sacrifice whose ashes were mixed with water and used to purify those who came in contact with a dead body or other ritually impure objects. This Mitzva is so mystifying that even the wisest of men, King Solomon, writes that he failed to grasp any reasoning for it. Yet the Torah calls this Mitzva "the Great Law of the Torah".

 What is so great about the sacrificial red heifer? Precisely the fact that it was done with complete faith and dedication. No reason was ever found for it by the greatest of Jewish sages, yet it was kept alive by the Jewish people for generations out of their love for God and his Torah.

 No matter how freethinking we are, we always need a foundation. A rock solid moral base that cannot be shaken. "Do not kill" is one of the ten commandments, even though it is quite an easy concept to explain logically. For pure human logic alone can be very tricky, even dangerous. Nazi Germany was full of logic and free-thinkers...

 Of course we need to think for ourselves and never be afraid to ask, debate or criticize. But true faith is a foundation that enforces and encourages thought. Judaism is the furthest thing from the blind fanaticism we see causing so much suffering. Tens of thousands of Torah volumes, filled to the brim with endless logical arguments and debates, fill Jewish libraries and schools. It's logic, with  a core essential foundation: Now that we know that God gave us a mission to perfect his world through Torah and Mitzvot and acts of goodness and kindness, we seek out, with our own minds and talents how to reach that goal.

Rabbi Avrohom