This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19.-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
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כִּי תִשָּׂא ● Ki Sisa
פָּרָה ● Parah
“Just a Cowincidence?”
Parshas Parah often coincides with Parshas Ki Sisa. If we were being cynical, we might suggest that Chazal have apparently capitalized on the lucky cow-themed coincidence (or “cowincidence”), as Parah Adumah refers to the purification ritual of the of the Red Heifer while Ki Sisa revolves around the Cheit HaEigel, or the sin of the worship of the Golden Calf. In this vein, the Midrash suggests that the rite of Parah Adumah atones for the Eigel HaZahav, using the analogy of a maidservant whose son soiled the king’s palace; so too here, the “mother” heifer should rightfully clean up the mess of her young calf [See Rashi to Bamidbar 19:22 citing Midrash Aggadah and Tanchuma, Chukas 8]. This is the homiletical teaching we’re likely to hear this week.
“Just a Cowincidence?”
The question is what we are to derive from this teaching? WAS it just a “cowincidence”? A “Moo-moo” here and a “Moo-moo” there? Or is there perhaps a more fundamental connection between Parah Adumah and the Cheit HaEigel?
Parah & Pesach
The more basic reason for the reading of Parshas Parah is its technical connection to Pesach [Megilah 3:4, 29A; Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim 685]. Since an individual could only participate in Korban Pesach if he was pure from Tumas Meis (impurity of a human carcass), the reading of the ritual of Parah Adumah which purifies one from Tumas Meis was a public service announcement and reminder before the month of Nissan for everyone to achieve and maintain their requisite ritual purity.
Perhaps the association between Parah Adumah and Pesach is even more intimate as the ritual of Parah Adumah involved the taking of an Agudas Eizov, or a bundle of hyssop, a rare practice among Temple rituals which was only first used during the original offering of the Korban Pesach. What this would seem to tell us is that, somehow, the rite of Parah bring us back to the very first Pesach we observed in Mitzrayim. The question is how exactly it does that.
The Unknowable Chok
Parah is also known as the “quintessential” Chok, or the prototype for a command in the Torah which the human mind was not designed to comprehend; it is a decree of the king that we must accept. According to tradition, Moshe Rabbeinu and Shlomo HaMelech struggled to grasp the depth of Parah Adumah. The question is what is so mysterious and unknowable about Parah?
Losing Our Way
The journey of Pesach, which took us from Yetzias Mitzrayim to Kabbalas HaTorah, is the foundation of our Emunah in Hashem and His Torah. Faith and trust in Hashem is only meaningful when it we maintain them precisely when we are at a loss for answers and feel like we have lost our way. It is specifically then that we must exercise our Emunah, follow Hashem and His mysterious Chukim that we will find our way, whether or not we are privy to the answers to our questions.
However, at the scene of the Cheit HaEigel, we panicked and lost our way. And as a nation, instead of maintaining Emunah in Hashem’s will, we sought to tweak Avodas Hashem in a way that perhaps made sense to us, but was in violation of the King’s decree. It was an about-face to Yetzias Mitzrayim and Kabbalas HaTorah.
Parah Adumah represents the path back home. But, how?
Faith in the Unknown
Parah Adumah is known for its paradoxical end result, that it is “Mitaheir Es HaTimei’im,” purifying the impure, while it is also “Mitamei Es HaTehorim,” or contaminating the pure. The Kohein who cleanses his fellowman dirties himself in the process. How is that fair? Perhaps, put differently, why should the “righteous” suffer while the “wicked” prosper? Moshe Rabbeinu was plagued by this very question. And the Gemara teaches that it was immediately after the Cheit HaEigel that Moshe Rabbeinu stood before Hashem and implored Him to divulge the secret to this very mystery of theodicy [Brachos 7A]. This is perhaps the enigma of the Parah Adumah. It is one of the oldest mysteries of life. And yet, Hashem would not provide Moshe a full answer to this mystery. THIS is the Tikun and rectification for the Cheit HaEigel. This is what restores the Emunah that we achieved through Pesach. Parah Adumah represents faith in Hashem’s will, even when we do not understand it. When we understand that we do not understand, and yet, we faithfully follow the Hashem’s decree, we will be back on our way.
May we all be Zocheh to successfully follow Hashem’s will, whether or not we understand it, and then we should be Zocheh to the answers to all of life’s mysteries as Hashem reveals them and the ultimate good to us with the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonder Shabbos Parah!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂