פ’ חקת – תשע”ה
Volume 9, 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…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 stature 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)
וטמא הכהן עד הערב
“And the priest is impure until the evening.” (19:7)
Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki said that the essence of the para adumah (that is, the whole procedure of purifying those who were spiritually impure) is based on the concept of “Love your neighbor” – ואהבת לרעך כמוך.
His grandson, Rabbi Mendel of Vorki explained that this is because the priest who was involved in the purification process became impure himself by the same process that purified the person who came to him. When someone loses out himself in order to help someone else, that is the ultimate in love for one’s fellow man.
A person who is not willing to make any sacrifices for other people will always find reasons why it is too difficult for him to do acts of kindness for others. To help others, takes time, energy, and money. But when someone truly loves another person, he feels pleasure in all the sacrifices that he makes for the next person. The greater your love for someone, the more sacrifices you are willing to make. Therefore, the test of your love for your fellow man is the amount of sacrifices you are willing to make. A person who is not willing to make any sacrifices shows that he lacks love for others. Where do you stand? (Growth Through Torah)
זאת התורה אדם כי ימות באהל כל הבא אל האהל וכל אשר באהל יטמא שבעת ימים
“This is the teaching regarding a man who will die in a tent: anything that enters the tent and anything that is in the tent shall be impure for seven days.” (19:14)
We often convince ourselves of our ability to remain unaffected by negative influences, thinking that we can avoid their effects should we come into contact with them. However, we must wake up to the reality that we are convincing ourselves of a fallacy. Our verse shows that all it takes is a contaminated atmosphere – devoid of any living influences – to affect man.
One can have the strongest intention of remaining unaffected, but if he sets foot into the tent he becomes impure. He need not enter for more than a second to be affected and becomes impure for seven days. Not only must we take steps to distance ourselves from people of negative influence, but even from negative environments, because even if we try not to be affected, we are indeed affected – and thus infected by them. (Pirkei Torah)
ויך את הסלע במטהו פעמים
“And he struck the rock with his staff twice…” (20:11)
QUESTION: Why did Moshe strike the rock twice?
ANSWER: The letter of the word “sela” (rock) – spelled out in full are סמך-למד-עין . The middle letters of the name of each letter spell the word “mayim” (water). Thus, in a “sela” (rock) there is hidden water (mayim). Moshe, by striking the rock twice, knocked off the first letters as well as the last letters, leaving the middle letters, מים, and water flowed abundantly. (Be’er Mayim Chaim)
QUESTION: Why do we need to know how many times he hit the rock? Furthermore, why was Aharon punished for this action of hitting the rock if he was not the one that actually hit it?
ANSWER: We see form here that one who stands idly by while another is doing something improper and does not try to stop him is also guilty. The first time that Moshe hit the rock – Moshe alone is held accountable, for how was Aharon to know that Moshe was going to hit the rock? But after he hit the rock the first time, Aharon should have said something. The verse tells us that Moshe hit the rock two times to let us know that Aharon was held responsible for allowing Moshe to hit the rock the second time. (Gan Raveh)
על כן יאמר בספר מלחמות ה’
“Wherefore it is said in the book of the Wars of Hashem…” (21:14)
The nations of the world win their wars with sophisticated weapons and arms – ועל חרבך תחיה – He who lives by the sword – and this is the blessing bestowed upon Eisav. But the Jewish people have a different kind of shield, the book of the Wars of Hashem. The power of the written word will win our wars. לא בחיל ולא בכח כי אם ברוחי אמר ה’ – Not with soldiers nor with powers, but with My spirit, said Hashem. (R’ Meir Shapiro of Lublin)
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