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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!!
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
A project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807
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