פ’ חקת תשע”ז
Volume 19, Issue 7
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
זאת חקת התורה אשר צוה ה’ לאמר דבר אל בני ישראל ויקחו אליך פרה אדמה תמימה
“This is the decree of the Torah which Hashem has commanded saying: Speak to the children of Israel and they shall take to you a completely red cow…” (19:1-2)
The order of the words seems odd. It should first have stated “speak to the children of Israel” and afterwards “This is the decree of the Torah…” Why was it reversed?
The Gemara (Tosefta, Sanhedrin, chap. 3) states that only a “beit din of seventy-one” [the highest judicial authority] can authorize the burning of the parah adumah. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 16a) also says that Moshe had vested in him the authority of a “beit din of seventy-one.” This explains the order of the phrases. It is part of the statutes of the Torah that Moshe be the one to “speak to the children of Israel” and instruct them to burn the red cow; otherwise it would not be permitted. (Chiddushei Maran Riz HaLevi)
זאת חקת התורה…ויקחו אליך פרה אדומה
“This is the statute of the Torah…and they shall take to you a red heifer.” (19:2)
QUESTION: Why does it say “Zot chukat haTorah” – “This is the statute of the Torah” – instead of “Zot chukat parah adumah” – “This is the statute of the red heifer”?
ANSWER: The laws concerning the para adumah are paradoxical. On the one hand when the mixture is sprinkled, a defiled person becomes cleansed. On the other hand, those who are involved in the preparation of the para adumah become defiled. The people appointed to prepare the para adumah may rationally argue, “Why should we become defiled for the sake of those who were not careful to avoid contact with a corpse?”
Through the statute of para adumah the Torah is teaching that a Jew must help another Jew even if it requires sacrifice. This is “chukat haTorah” – “the basic principle of Torah” – and though we may not easily comprehend it, we must practice it in our daily lives. (Vedebarta Bam)
קח את העדה והקהל את העדה אתה ואהרן אחיך
“Take the staff and gather together the assembly, you and Aharon, your brother.” (20:8)
Hashem commands Moshe and Aharon to take the staff and to speak to a rock to make water come out. The verse says hamateh – the staff, as opposed to matcha – your staff. Hashem is referring to the staff that Moshe and Aharon used to create many miracles.
They were not supposed to take the staff to hit the rock; rather they were to take this staff to remind Klal Yisrael of the great miracles that Hashem performed, and how He controls everything in this world. There shouldn’t have been any skepticism as to whether Hashem can make water come out of a rock. Hashem controls everything in this world, and can manipulate nature at will. (Siftei Kohen)
ויאמר ה’ אל משה ואל אהרן יען לא האמנתם בי
“G-d told Moshe and Aharon, ‘Since you did not have enough faith in Me’…” (20:12)
Whatever rationalizations may justify their conduct, Jewish leaders must decide how to act based on whether their actions will inspire the public to greater devotion to the Torah and its ways.
Similarly, when interacting with others, we should always consider the potential impact that our words or actions may have on their attitudes toward the Jewish people in general and towards the Torah’s message in particular. (Likutei Sichot)
דרך המלך נלך לא נטה ימין ושמאל עד אשר נעבר גבלך
“We will walk along the king’s road, turning neither to the right nor to the left until we have passed through your territory.” (20:17)
Moses’ message to the Edomite king is the same message that our Divine souls must convey to the material world so long as we are still in exile. “True, we Jews are physically the same as all people; we have physical needs that must be met by working and living in the physical world. Nonetheless, we will not let this fact obscure our true purpose in life: to fulfill our Divine mission of elevating and refining physicality. We will walk along our Divine King’s road; we will not deviate from G-d’s ways, either to the right or to the left!”
By remaining true to both our inner selves and to our Divine mission, we will merit witnessing the ultimate redemption of the world and its transformation into G-d’s true home. (Likutei Sichot)
This week’s parsha sheet is dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Katz in memory of his father, Gershon ben Eliezer HaKohen. For future sponsorship opportunities please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.