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B”H

Shalom and Bracha!
 

This Shabbat we read two portions, the weekly portion of Ki Tisa and a special portion for Parshat Parah. There is a theme that unites the two portions.
 

One of the themes discussed in the portion is the sin of the golden calf, Hashem’s wrath, Moshe’s extended begging for and attaining Hashem’s forgiveness, and the aftermath which included the second tablets, the revelation of Hashem’s thirteen attributes of mercy and Moshe’s face radiating with light.
 

The Zohar notes that Moshe was the first to truly fully give of himself when seeking forgiveness for others. When Noach was aware the calamitous flood was coming, he prepared his exit strategy. While doing so, he rebuked the people of his generation. We don’t find him praying for them.
 

When Avraham became aware of the imminent destruction of Sodom, he prayed for them. His tenacity could even be viewed as inappropriate. His prayer, however, was contingent on the merits of the people of Sodom and the surrounding cities. If ten of them were righteous, he begged for the cities salvation. Moshe prayed unconditionally. He emphatically stated that even if the deeds of the Jewish people were evil, they had the intrinsic good of the forefathers and must be spared.

Further, Moshe raised the stakes with ultimate self sacrifice. If You Hashem will not forgive them, erase my name for the Torah! Moshe had the highest appreciation of the significance of Torah. (Commentaries explain that his sacrifice was actualized. In last week’s portion Moshe’s name is not mentioned even once!)


Moshe’s love for the Jewish people exceeded his love for the Torah. This self sacrifice affected Hashem’s forgiveness.
 

It is worthwhile to note that in fact Moshe gained from his self sacrifice. The Moshe hewed the second tablets from sapphire, and all of the shards remained in his possession. Moshe perceived Hashem’s attributes of mercy, which were hidden to him until that time. Moshe was elevated to the point that his face radiated constantly. The second tablets came with many new depths in Torah that had previously not been revealed.
 

From all the above we see a poignant lesson. We must be ready to make tremendous sacrifices for Ahavat Yisrael, for the love of our fellow Jews. Even if they are estranged (serving an idol is pretty estranged) they are the children of the forefathers and must be kept as part of the Jewish people. By doing so, we endear ourselves to Hashem and reach new spiritual heights.
 

Parshat Parah

This is echoed in Parshat Parah.
For the Maftir, a special portion, Parshat Parah, is read. Parshat Parah describes the Mitzvah of the Parah Adumah, the red calf, which was a necessary purification to enter the Temple in Yerushalayim and partake in the offerings. Since the entire Jewish people participated in the Passover offering, about which we read next week, this week we read about the necessary preparation.

All of the Mitzvot connected to the Temple, in addition to their application in the time that the Temple stood, have teachings and meanings in our daily lives. Parshat Parah, in addition to the general reminder that Pesach is approaching, and that we must prepare our spirits and our deeds for the rebirth of the Jewish people that occurs on Pesach, has a very specific teaching as to the necessary prerequisite to the service of Pesach.
 

Whoever came into contact with a dead body was forbidden to enter the Temple until he was sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer mixed with fresh well water. The ashes were prepared in a very elaborate ceremony and kept for future generations. This ceremony has been performed nine times and the final time will be when Moshiach comes.


The Mitzvah of the red heifer presents certain paradoxes. Unlike all offerings in the Temple, the red heifer was slaughtered outside of the Temple, and outside of the walls of Yerushalayim. However, the Kohen had to constantly face and see not only the Temple, but also the inner sanctuary. This was so significant that the Temple wall facing the Mount of Olives was built lower than the other walls of the Temple in order that the inner sanctuary would be visible from the Mount of Olives.

Whoever was involved in preparing the red heifer became ritually impure, and had to go to the Mikveh and wait until the next day before reentering the Temple. The ashes, however, were retained at a degree of sanctity that surpassed even that of the sacrifices.
 

Coming into contact with death represents straying from the path of Torah. The Torah is the tree of life and separation from the Torah cuts us from our bond of life. When we see a fellow Jew who is astray from his heritage, the Torah tells us that it is our duty to help him. The red heifer was prepared outside of the Temple to teach us that we must be ready to make personal sacrifices and leave our own ‘sanctuary’ in order to ‘purify’ another.

Even the Kohen Gadol, who is supposed to spend his time inside the Temple had to leave the Temple to purify another Jew and include him in the Temple. However, we must constantly face the inner sanctuary. When reaching out to others, we can easily make a mistake and provide a diluted Judaism, thinking that it’s better than what they have now.

Facing the inner sanctuary reminds us that our goal is to bring people to the Torah, not change the Torah to suit people.
 

As aforementioned, the Parah is the prerequisite for Pesach. The birth of the Jewish people, their survival, and final redemption all depend upon self sacrifice for Jewish continuity.
 

The tenth Parah Adumah will be brought by Moshiach. May he be speedily revealed!!

Shabbat Shalom,
 

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Zevy Geisinsky and Shani Schochet on the occasion of their engagement. May their wedding be at a good and auspicious time and may their home be imbued with the love of the Jewish people and all of the blessings that love elicits.

There is a great Pesach website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays

A project of Chabad of Great Neck

400 East Shore Rd.

Great Neck NY 11024

516 4874554 fax 516 4874807

If you have received this in error or would like to unsubscribe, contact me at RabbiBiggs@gmail.com


 
   
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