We really get into trouble, though, when we find ourselves altogether comfortable with a Text. It is so familiar to us, or so simple in our estimation, that we know exactly what it must be talking about. It is this kind of thinking that will limit our spiritual growth more than anything.
The Torah portion for this week begins with the sacrifice of the Red Heifer in Numbers 19. It is considered the most enigmatic portion of the entire Torah by Jewish scholarship. When people come into contact with a dead body, they must be washed with water that contains ashes from the red heifer. This means it takes someone who is clean (also considered holy) to be rendered unclean (unholy) in order to make others clean (holy).
At first glance, to those who believe that the Messiah has come, the answer is a simple one. This describes the role of the Messiah as being sacrificed on our behalf to cleanse us from our sins. But, why then, is the duty performed by "any clean man" and not specifically by the High Priest (our "intermediary" as described in Hebrews 9).
One of the rabbinical conclusions is that the red heifer is offered as a direct response to the golden calf. It's easy to scoff at this since the golden calf (Hebrew: ay-ghel / Greek: mos-kos) is describing a young bull, not an adult cow (Hebrew: paw-rah / Greek: damalis). It doesn't make sense to us... so we write it off as nonsense.
It's grown to be an acceptable conclusion in our culture: "I don't understand what you're saying, therefore it must be nonsense." If you think about it, it may be the most arrogant demonstration of our self-will. If we don't understand it, it must not be valid.
It is exactly this thinking that has caused much of Christianity to find itself defenseless against the encroachments of worldliness. The proponents of sin don't have to invalidate the Text. They simply have to bring the rationality into question. If they can ask, "What does this mean?" and cause us to doubt our conclusions (or force us to admit that we have none), then they legitimize for themselves everything that runs contrary to Scripture.
At the same time, when we only allow ourselves to acknowledge or consider only the most basic understanding that is consistent with our already established beliefs, we find ourselves doing the same thing.
The solution is not to accept everything that the rabbis (or any biblical scholars) hold. The solution is to recognize that God really is smarter than we are. There are things that we are not capable of understanding. And the things we think we know today, well, there's more to it.