Parashat Re’eh / פרשת ראה

Parsha Summary for Parshas Reeh

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.


1st and 2nd Aliyot: Moshe instructs the Chosen People to eradicate any remnant of idolatry and strengthen all aspects of service to G-d. All offerings must be brought to the “Chosen” place, the Bais Hamikdash, so that worship is an act of humility and selflessness, rather than a self-indulging “need”. An even greater danger to our uniqueness is the innate desire to compromise and assimilate Torah values with other forms of worship. (the Chanukah bush syndrome)

3rd and 4th Aliyot: Moshe forewarned the Jews against incorporating any pagan practices, and against the false prophet, idolatrous missionaries, and the Ir Hanidachas – the Apostate City. These must be destroyed along with their material belongings. When using the wo​_rld in accordance with the wishes of the Creator, we declare the existence of a Creator who has a divine purpose for creating the material world. When we misuse the physical in the service of “gods who are not G-d”, we negate the Creator’s purpose for creating the universe. Therefore, they and all their belongings must be destroyed.

5th, 6th, and 7th Aliyot: The remainder of the Parsha, details those Mitzvos that set us apart from all other nations: Kashrus; Maasros – Tithes; the Shmitah – sabbatical year; the laws regarding lending money; the Eved Ivri – a Jew who is a slave; the consecration of the first-born animal, and a review of the main Yomim Tovim – holidays: Pesach, Shavouth, and Succoth.

Rav S.R. Hirsch points out that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are not reviewed in Sefer Divarim because there were no changes in the practices of those Yomim Tovim when living in the desert or living in Eretz Yisroel. (Intro. to Divarim)

Parashat Re’eh (פרשת ראה): The Three Pilgrimages…

By Rav. PhilJ Alcide, PhD

Blessing before reading the Torah:   

 

Praise Hashem, to whom our praise is due! Praised be Hashem, to whom our praise is due now and forever! Blessed is Hashem our God, Ruler of the universe, who has chosen us from all peoples by giving us the Torah. Blessed is Hashem, Giver of the Torah.

Reading: “שלוש פעמים ׀ בשנה יראה כל־זכורך את־פני ׀ יהוה אלהיך במקום אשר יבחר בחג המצות ובחג השבעות ובחג הסכות ולא יראה את־פני יהוה ריקם איש כמתנת ידו כברכת יהוה אלהיך אשר נתן־לך”

Transliteration

  • “shalosh pe’anim bashanah yera’eh kal zekhurekha et penei adonai eloheikha bamaqom asher yivchar b’chag hamatzot ub’chag hashavuot ub’chag hasukkot v’lo yera’eh et penei adonai reqam ish kematenat yado k’birkat adonai eloheikha asher natan lakh ” (Devarim 16 : 16-17)

Translation:

  • “Three times a year all your males should appear before Hashem your God in the place that He will choose: on the Festtival of Matzot, on the Festival of Shavuot, and on the Festival of Sukkot. And he shall not appear before Hashem empty-handed, everyone according to what he can give, according to the blessing that Hashem, your God, gives you.” (Deut.16: 16-17)

Blessing after reading the Torah:

Blessed is the Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has given us a Torah of truth, implanting within us eternal life. Blessed is the Lord, Giver of the Torah.

This week’s Parshah covers a lot of material. We would be dizzy if we were to go over them all right now. We would be amazed as well. Yet, I choose to focus on a very small section that will do just as much. Please, accept my apology. Why three times a year? Why only male must appear? Where is the place to appear? Why not empty-handed? These are some of the questions that I will explore with you but before that let us make a b’rachah (say a blessing):

  • Baruch Atah adonai eloheinu Melekh ha-Olam yihyu l’ratson imrei-fi v’hegyon libi l’fanecha adonai tsuri v’goali [Amen]
  • Blessed are you Hashem our G-d, king of the universe. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you Hashem, my Rock and my Redeemer [Amen]

It is interesting to note that during the forty years that the Israelites lived in the wilderness they were never commanded to appear before Hashem any number of times a day, a week, a month, or a year. However, it is only before they enter the Promised Land that they are reminded to present themselves three times a year “before Hashem” and “at the place He will choose.” This command is known in our circles as “shalosh regalim” or three pilgrimages.

Pilgrimage

What is a pilgrimage? What purpose does it serve? In the Encyclopedia Britannica (2011) we read:

  • “A pilgrimage is a journey undertaken for a religious motive. Although some pilgrims have wandered continuously with no fixed destination, pilgrims more commonly seek a specific place that has been sanctified by association with a divinity or other holy personage…Given its presence in so many different cultural and historical contexts, no single meaning can be attributed to the act of pilgrimage. Structural similarities are discernible, however, across disparate traditions of sacred travel. Pilgrimage usually entails some separation (alone or in a group) from the everyday world of home, and pilgrims may mark their new identity by wearing special clothes or abstaining from physical comforts. Frequently, pilgrimages link sacred place with sacred time…Apart from involving movement across physical and cultural landscapes toward a sacred goal, pilgrimages frequently involve ritual movements at the site itself…A factor that unites pilgrimage locations across different religions is the sense, variously expressed, that a given place can provide privileged access to a divine or transcendent sphere…In all religious traditions, hierarchies of sites are evident, as some places are regarded as more sacred than others.”

Why three times a year?

In the book of Joshua we read:

  • “So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book, and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh. And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions.” (Josh.18: 9-10)

This establishes the Israelites as sedentary people now. They are no longer wandering in the wilderness. In the book of Ecclesiastes we read,

  • “And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Eccl.4: 12)

The number three here seems to serve at least two purposes in relation to the pilgrimage. The first one is that it is an opportunity for the Israelites to show gratitude to Hashem. The second one is an opportunity to show that they have confidence in Hashem as a partner in the covenant (Exod.34: 24). A third one is to confirm the everlasting character of the covenant through the principle of the three witnesses (Deut.19: 15). Therefore, the three pilgrimages are the eternal witnesses and testimony of what Hashem has done for the Israelites. This is very important to remember.

Why only male must appear?

The ancient Israelites never understood this to exclude women. In fact, in the book of Samuel we read:

  • “There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” (1 Sam.1: 1-7)

If women were not allowed appear before Hashem, then why did Penninah and Hannah go up with their husband Elkanah? Who was this man anyway? Why didn’t any of his wives ask him to leave the other as the ultimate proof of his love for her? Does the Torah forbid a man to have more than one wife? We must be very careful not to read in the Bible what is not there, things that are informed by anti-Bible biases. Interestingly, the text says:

  • “When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.” “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” (1 Sam.1: 21-23)

Here, as you can see, Hannah chose not to appear before Hashem simply because she was nursing a newborn child. However, she made clear that she would continue to appear before Hashem when the boy is old enough. Her husband agreed with her. He didn’t tell her that she was not commanded to go. What we understand is that women are exempt from performing certain mitzvot simply because of who they are, which determines the role that they play in the community. Men, on the other hand, do not enjoy the privilege of exemption under any circumstance. Therefore, the omission of women in the text is not due to sexism but to accommodate their exalted status. It is that simple. One must read the text in its context, as a Hebrew would read it in the light of his tradition. Also, men that were ritually unclean could not present themselves before Hashem even if they were commanded to appear.

Where is the place to appear?

Traditionally, the place has always been where the priesthood is quartered. The first place was Shiloh. After that, it became Jerusalem. Should we really focus on a particular place, a physical location? In the time of exile, as right now, and before that during the Babylonian captivity, where is the place? We cannot go to Jerusalem because we do not have a Temple there nor a priesthood. Yet the power of pilgrimage as a metaphor may be retained even in contexts apparently unfavorable to its practice. We must, therefore, understand why Hashem commanded us to appear before Him three times a year. Is there a place that Hashem is not? David, in Psalm 139, answered with a resounding “no”. The point of the pilgrimages then is to bring people together. It is not the physical place that is really the focus but the “unity of people”. Wherever people are united this is where Hashem chooses. This idea is clearly stated in Psalm 133, where it is written:

  • “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Ps.133: 1-3)

The Three pilgrimages have one thing in common. They are all “Shabbat days”. In other words, they are set apart for a particular purpose. The place is “in time” because it is time that Hashem “made holy”. Man made a place holy. Which is greater: what G-d sanctifies or what man sanctifies? A place can be destroyed but time cannot be destroyed. We will always have the opportunity to appear before Hashem as long as we are alive. Let us briefly look at each pilgrimage:

Pesach or Passover began and remains a family holiday. It symbolizes in words and deeds the ideal of freedom (Gen.1: 26-27). It is associated with the Exodus from Egypt. On this holiday we are commanded not to eat yeast. The sages taught:

  • “Leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart” (Talmud, Berachot 17a)

Pesach, therefore, teaches us to subdue our appetite and control what we eat.

Shavuot or “feast of weeks” is traditionally known by many names each of which reflects the agricultural nature of the holiday celebrated in the Spring. The Bible nowhere associates the holiday of Shavuot with G-d’s revelation on Mount Sinai. The Talmud (Pesachim 68b), however, does make an association between the two. The connection was established when scholars, following the biblical account, calculated that the dates of the agricultural festival of Shavuot and the event at Mount Sinai coincided. In this Parshah, the reason for the observance of Shavuot is that “we were once slaves in Egypt”.

Sukkot or “feast of booths” was originally an agricultural holiday. We are told to remember that the Israelites people lived in booths when G-d took them out of Egypt. It marks the beginning of the rainy season. Therefore, it became known as a Day of Judgment for Rain.

Why not empty-handed? 

All three pilgrimages refer to the Exodus from Egypt, which is G-d’s greatest act of love to the Israelites. G-d gives because He loves. Therefore, we must demonstrate our love by giving back. This is the law. Therefore, Solomon taught:

  • “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of your crops.” (Prov.3: 9)

The three pilgrimages give us a framework to test our own obedience and gratitude. They provide us with an opportunity for spiritual growth. They invite us to take journeys without leaving our physical place. We are to go into the depth of our soul each time to meet with our G-d. Also, the pilgrimages provide us with opportunities for redemption. What are we to be redeemed from? Our sages, by linking Chametz (yeast) to the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination), teach us that we are to be redeemed from our evil inclination, the Yetzer Hara. Who can redeem us and how? G-d answers, saying:

  • “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen.4: 7)

G-d has already provided for us in all aspects of our lives. He gives us opportunities to prove ourselves worthy. He gives us the Torah, a Covenant of Peace, a Pact of Friendship. Now it is up to us to show Him how much we love him. Notice that out of 365 days we are only commanded to make three pilgrimages. The rest of the year concerns our treatment of others. We cannot present ourselves before G-d favorably if we neglect our neighbor or oppress them in any way. We are different and receive differently from G-d. Therefore, we cannot look at what others give to G-d when we want to present gifts to Him. How good has G-d been to you? How much has He given you? How much does he ask you to give Him?

Shabbat Shalom,

Reference

pilgrimage. (2011). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.

Parashat Chukat / פרשת חקת

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st Aliya: The laws of the Parah Adumah- the Red Heifer, are detailed.

 2nd Aliya: In Nissan of the 40th year, Miriam died. The well dried up and the nation gathered against Moshe and Aharon to complain. 

3rd Aliya: The “hitting of the rock” occurred and Moshe and Aharon were refused entry into Eretz Yisroel. 

4th Aliya: Moshe requested from Edom permission to travel through their land on the way to Eretz Yisroel. Edom refused. 

5th Aliya: Aharon died and Elazar succeeded his father as Kohain Gadol. They encountered the southern Canaanites (13 miles west of the Dead Sea) and bested them in battle. Following Aharon’s death, the protective clouds departed and the nation began to complain about the living conditions. Hashem sent poisonous snakes to attack the nation and Moshe was instructed to create the “copper snake on a stick” o miraculously save the bitten. 

6th & 7th Aliya: The nation traveled to Yeshimon – northeast of the Dead Sea. In the conclusion of Chukas, the nation was refused access to the lands of Sichon and Og and Moshe led them into victorious battle against them. 


Haftorah Rosh Chodesh 

This week’s Haftorah is from Yishayah Chap. 66 and reflects the fact that today is also Rosh Chodesh. Yishayah describes the ultimate downfall of all our enemies during the war of Gog and Magog. The Navi explains that this world is the manifestation of g-d’s presence and glory. Yet, we are incapable and sometimes unwilling to properly recognize G-d’s manifest presence. Even when the Bais Hamikdash stood the Bnai Yisroel did not appreciate their opportunity to be close to G-d and serve Him. The Navi forewarns that insincere expressions of devotion are tantamount to offering blemished sacrifices and G-d will punish those who lack sincerity and devotion. 

Nevertheless, the institution of the Bais Hamikdash and prayer are our only means for communication love and devotion. Therefore, those who truly mourn for the absence of the Bais Hamikdash and the Temple services will also merit to rejoice in her redemption and reconstruction. When the Bais Hamikdash will be rebuilt the nation will again be able to witness the Rosh Chodesh offering and service, and fully participate in expressing their commitment

Parashat Sh’lach / פרשת שלח־לך

Parsha Summary for Parshas Shlach

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.


1st Aliya: Moshe sends the Spies on their mission.

2nd Aliya: The Spies return carrying the massive fruits of the land. They deliver their negative report and the nation loses its faith in G-d and Moshe.

3rd Aliya: Moshe successfully argues for the life of the nation, and Hashem issues the 40 year decree of wandering and dying.

4th Aliya: The Spies die, and the nation is informed of their own punishment.

5th Aliya: The laws of the Mincha – meal offering are stated.

6th Aliya: The laws of separating Challah – the dough offering, and the communal sin offering are stated.

7th Aliya: The individual sin offering; the incident with the man who transgressed Shabbos by gathering sticks; his punishment; and the Mitzvah of Tzitzit, conclude the Parsha.

SHELACH

NUMBERS 13 (ONKELOS) — 1 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 2 Send thou men, that they may explore the land of Kenaan, which I will give to the children of Israel: one man for each tribe of their fathers shall you send, each one a ruler among them. 3 And Mosheh sent them from the wilderness of Pharan, according to the Word of the Lord. All those men were heads of the children of Israel; 4 and these are their names: Tor the tribe of Reuben, Shamua bar Zakur; 5 for the tribe of Shemeon, Shaphat bar Hori; 6 for the tribe of Jehudah, Kaleb bar Jephuneh; 7 for the tribe of Issakar, Igal bar Joseph; 8 for the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea bar Nun; 9 for the tribe of Benyamin, Phalti bar Raphu; 10 for the tribe of Zebulon, Gediel bar Sodi; 11 for the tribe of Joseph, the tribe of Menasheh, Gaddi bar Susi; 12 for the tribe of Dan, Ammiel bar Gemali; 13 for the tribe of Asher, Sethor bar Mikael; 14 for the tribe of Naphtali, Nachbi bar Yapsi; 15 for the tribe of Gad, Geuel bar Machi: 16 These are the names of the men whom Mosheh sent to explore the land.

17 And Mosheh called Hoshea bar Nun Jehoshua. And Mosheh sent them away to explore the land of Kenaan. And he said to them, Go up hither by the south, and ascend to the mountain, 18 and see the country what it is, and the people who dwell upon it, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19 and what the land is in which they dwell, whether good or bad; and what the cities they inhabit, whether open, or walled in; 20 and whether the land is rich or poor; whether it hath trees or not: and you, be of good courage, and bring of the fruits of the land. And the days were the days of the first grapes.

21 And they went up, and explored the country, from the wilderness of Zin unto Rechob, to come unto Hamath. 22 And they went up by the south, and came to Hebron; and there were Achiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, sons of the giants; (and Hebron was built seven years before Tanis of Mizraim). 23 And they came to the Stream of Grapes, and cut down there a branch, with one cluster of grapes, and carried it on a staff between two; and (they took also) of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24 That place was called the Stream of Grapes, on account of the grapes (athkela) which the sons of Israel cut down from thence. 25 And they returned from the exploration of the country at the end of forty days.

26 And they went and came to Mosheh, and to Aharon, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel at the wilderness of Pharan, at Rekam,and returned the word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they recounted to him, and said: We came to the land whither thou didst send us,and truly it doth produce milk and honey, and this is the fruit of it. 28 But very mighty are the people who inhabit the land, and the cities are fortified and very great; and we saw, also, the sons of the giants there. 29 The Amalkaah dwell in the land of the south, and the Hittaah and Jebusaah and Amoraah dwell in the mountain, and the Kenaanaah dwell by the sea, and upon the bank of the Jordan.

30 And Kaleb quieted the people for Mosheh, and said: Going, let us go up and possess it, for we are able to (do) it: 31 but the men who had gone up with him said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. 32 And they gave forth an evil report (name) about the land which they had explored to the children of Israel, saying: The country which we have passed through to search it, is a land that killeth its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of stature; 33 and there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which are of the giants; and we looked, in our own sight, as locusts, and so were we in their eyes.

NUMBERS 14 (ONKELOS) — 1 And all the congregation lifted up and gave (forth) their voice; and all the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Mosheh and Aharon; and the whole congregation said to them, that we had died in the land of Mizraim, or that we had died in this wilderness! 3 And why is the Lord bringing us to this land, that we may fall by the sword, and our wives and our children become a prey? Would it not be better for us to return into Mizraim? 4 And they said, a man to his brother, Let us appoint a chieftain, and go back into Mizraim.

5 And Mosheh and Aharon fell upon their faces before all the assembly of the sons of Israel. 6 And Jehoshua bar Nun, and Kaleb bar Jephuneh, who were of the explorers of the land, rent their clothes. 7 And they spake to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying: The land, which we passed through to explore it, is a good land, most exceedingly. 8 If the Lord hath pleasure in us, even He will bring us into this land, and give us the land which produceth milk and honey. 9 Only be not rebellious against the Word of the Lord, nor be afraid of the people of the land, for they are delivered into our hand; their strength is departed from them, and the Word of the Lord is our helper: fear them not. 10 But all the congregation said that they would stone them with stones.

And the Glory of the Lord was revealed at the tabernacle of ordinance, unto ail the children of Israel. 11 And the Lord said to Mosheh, How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will they disbelieve in My Word, for all the signs which I have wrought among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence and consume them; and will make of thee a people greater and stronger than they. 13 But Mosheh said before the Lord, And the Mizraee will hear of it;—for Thou didst bring up by Thy power this people from among them, 14 and they will tell unto the inhabitants of this land; for they have heard that Thou, Lord, dost dwell in Thy Shekinah among this people, whose eyes behold the glorious Shekinah of the Lord, and that Thy Cloud overshadoweth them, and that in the pillar of the Cloud Thou conductest them in the day, and in the pillar of Fire by night. 15 Now if Thou shalt kill this people as one man, the nations who have heard the fame of Thy power will speak, saying: 16 Because there was not strength (enough) before the Lord to bring this people into the land which He covenanted to them, He hath killed them in the desert. 17 And now I beseech, let power be magnified from before the Lord, as Thou hast thus spoken, saying: 18 The Lord is far from anger, and great in performing goodness and truth: forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sins, pardoning them who return unto His law: but acquitting not them who will not turn, (but) visiting the sins of the fathers upon the rebellious children unto the third and unto the fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I beseech, the sins of this people according to the amplitude of Thy goodness, and as Thou hast forgiven this people from Mizraim until now.

20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word. 21 Yet, as I live, with the glory of the Lord shall all the earth be filled. 22 Because all these men who have seen My glory, and the signs I wrought in Mizraim and in the desert, but have tempted before Me these ten times, and have not been obedient to My Word,—23 if they shall see the land which I covenanted to their fathers, nor shall any see it who have provoked before Me. 24 But My servant Kaleb, for that there was in him another spirit, and that he hath wholly followed (in) My fear, him will I bring into the land whither he went, and his children shall possess it.—25 Now the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah dwelt in the valley.—Tomorrow, turn you and get you to the wilderness by the way of the Sea of Suph.

26 And the Lord spake with Mosheh and unto Aharon, saving: 27 How long shall this evil congregation be murmuring against Me? The murmuring of the sons of Israel which they murmur against Me is heard before Me. 28 Say to them, As I live, saith the Lord, even as ye have spoken before Me, so will I do to you. 29 In this wilderness shall your carcases fall, and all who are numbered of you, of all your numbers, from one of twenty years and upward who have murmured against me—30 if you shall come into the land in which I covenanted in My Word to cause you to dwell, except Kaleb bar Jephuneh, and Jehoshua bar Nun. 31 But your children, of whom you said they were for a prey, will I bring in, and they shall know the land which you have abhorred. 32 But your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; 33 and your children shall go about in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your iniquities until your carcases be laid in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you explored the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, you shall receive for your sins, even forty years, and you shall know (the consequence of) your murmuring against me.  35 I, the Lord, have made the decree in My Word,—if I will not do unto all this evil congregation who have gathered together against Me; in this wilderness shall they find their end, and here shall they die.

36 And the men whom Mosheh sent to search the land, and who returned to make all the congregation murmur against him, by bringing forth an evil name upon the land; 37 those men who brought out the evil name upon the land died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Jehoshua bar Nun and Kaleb bar Jephuneh lived, of those men who went to explore the land. 39 And Mosheh told these words to all the children of Israel, and the people bewailed greatly. 40 And they arose in the morning to go up to the top of the mountain, saying: Behold, we will go up to the place of which the Lord hath spoken; for we have sinned. 41 But Mosheh said, Wherefore do you transgress against the decree of the Word of the Lord? But it will not prosper. 42 Go not up, for the Shekinah of the Lord is not among you, and be not broken before your enemies. 43 For the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah are there before you, and you will fall by the sword; for, because you have turned away from the service of the Lord, the Word of the Lord will not be your helper. 44 Yet they would commit the wickedness of going up to the summit of the mountain, though the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and Mosheh, removed not from the midst of the camp. 45 And the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah who dwelt in the mountain came down and smote them, and pursued them unto Hormah.

NUMBERS 15 (ONKELOS) — 1 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 2 Speak with the children of Israel, and say to them: When you shall (at last) have come into the land which I will give you, 3 and you will make an oblation before the Lord, a burnt offering, or a consecrated sacrifice for the release of a vow, or in a free will offering, or in your solemnities to render an acceptable service before the Lord, from the herd or from the flock; 4 let him who offereth his oblation before the Lord bring for a mincha a tenth of flour sprinkled with the fourth of a hina of oil. 5 And wine for a libation the fourth of a hina shall he make upon the burnt offering, or hallowed sacrifice, for one lamb: 6 or for a ram he shall make a mincha of two tenths of flour sprinkled with the third of a hina of oil; 7 and wine for the libation thou shalt bring the third of a hina, to be received with acceptance before the Lord. 8 And when thou makest a bullock a burnt offering, or a hallowed sacrifice for the release of a vow, or hallowed sacrifices before the Lord, 9 let him bring with the bullock a mincha of three tenths of flour sprinkled with a half hina of oil; 10 and wine shalt thou bring for the libation the half of a hina, an oblation to be received with acceptance before the Lord. 11 So shalt thou do for one bullock, or one ram, or one lamb from the lambs, or from the kids. 12 According to the number that you perform so shall you do with each, according to their number. 13 All native born (Hebrews) shall do these things to offer an oblation to be received with favour before the Lord. 14 And if a sojourner who sojourneth with you, or whoever among you in your generations will make an oblation to be received with favour before the Lord, as you do, so shall he do. 15 One congregation and one rite shall be for you and for the sojourners who sojourn; it is an everlasting statute; as you are, so shall the sojourner be before the Lord: 16 one law and one judgment shall be for you and for the sojourners who dwell with you.

17 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 18 Speak with the sons of Israel, and say to them, When you have come into the land into which I will bring you, 19 and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall set apart a separation before the Lord. 20 Of the first of your food you shall set apart a cake for a separation; as the separation of the threshing-floor, so shall you set it apart; 21 of the first of your bread (dough) you shall give the separation before the Lord in your generations.

22 And should you be in ignorance, and not do all these commandments of which the Lord hath spoken with Mosheh, 23 even all which the Lord commanded you by the hand of Mosheh from the day that the Lord commanded and thenceforward in your generations, 24 it shall be that if anything be hid from the eyes of the congregation and you do ignorantly, then all the congregation shall make a burnt offering of one young bullock, to be received with acceptance before the Lord, with his mincha and his libation, according to the proper manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering: 25 and the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was ignorance; but they shall bring their oblation before the Lord on account of their ignorance. 26 And it shall be forgiven to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and to the sojourners who sojourn among them; for all the people (were) in ignorance. 27 And if one sin ignorantly, he shall bring a female kid of the year for a sin offering; 28 and the priest shall make atonement for the man who hath erred in his sin through ignorance before the Lord, to atone for him, and it shall be forgiven him. 29 For the native born of the sons of Israel, and for the sojourner who sojourneth among you, one law shall there be for you, for him who acteth in ignorance. 30 But the man who doeth presumptuously, whether of the native born, or of the sojourners, he provoketh the Lord to anger, and that man shall perish from among his people: 31 because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath made His commandment vain, that man shall be utterly destroyed, his sin is upon him.

32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man stealing wood on the day of the Sabbath; 33 and they who had found him stealing wood brought him to Mosheh and Aharon, and to all the congregation. 34 And they bound him in the house of custody; for it had not been explained to them what they should do to him. 35 And the Lord said unto Mosheh, The man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 36 And all the congregation brought him forth without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Mosheh.

37 And the Lord spake to Mosheh, saying: 38 Speak with the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes upon the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that upon the fringes on the borders they put a ribbon of hyacinth. 39 And they shall be to you for fringes, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them, and not wander after the imagination of your heart, or after the sight of your eyes, after which you have gone astray. 40 That you may remember and do all My precepts, and be saints before your God. 41 I am the Lord your God who brought you forth from the land of Mizraim to be to you Eloha: I am the Lord your God.

Matiytyahu It Is a Didactic or Teaching Gospel. While giving the account of a number of miracles, the book is marked by several discourses of considerable length, as The sermon on the Mount, chapters 3-7, the denunciation of the *Pharisees not the school of Hillel, chapter 23, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, chapters 24-25, the address to the apostles, chapter 10; and the doctrines of the kingdom, 17:24-20:16. These portions and the parables noted above will indicate how large a portion of the book is taken up in discourses. The student can make lists of other and shorter sections of teaching.

* On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Yeshua. “ Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Yeshua replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Yeshua, “And who is my neighbor?”

Yeshua as Rabbi:

Part 1: What is a Rabbi?

Part 2: Was Yeshua a Rabbi?

Part 3: Yeshua’ Miracles

Yeshua, as an integral member of the culture he lived in, was not only a rabbi with s’mikah, but he also took part in the rabbinic culture of his day, interacting with others in that culture. As such, he was called on to answer a number of questions and to weigh in with his opinions on issues of import to that culture.

The Schools

Within his culture of early first-century Israel, there were seven primary rabbinic ’schools’ of thought, with followers – talmidim – in each school. These schools were named after the founding rabbi, even if that rabbi was no longer alive. Much like the discussion that goes on in these schools of thought within Judaism would debate key questions of theology and practice, often quite heatedly.

At the poles of thought within these schools, the most lenient (or liberal, though not in a modern sense) of the rabbinical schools was the School of Hillel. One of Hillel’s key teachings, recorded in the Talmud, is this:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

About ten years after Hillel’s death, Yeshua took this concept, building onto it in a positive fashion:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

At the other end of the spectrum, the School of Shammai was the most strict in its interpretations. The remaining five schools of rabbinic thought ranged between these two, Hillel and Shammai, with key nuances – emphases or de-emphases – from the other schools. When Yeshua began his ministry near the age of 30, he entered into this context, and as one might expect, he was asked to weigh in on the great debates of the day.

Question and Answer

Within the rabbinic schools, the primary means of debate was ask-assertive conversation rather than the highly expository method in Western/Greek culture. The reason for this is based on the theory that ‘if I tell you what you should believe, the answer you have is my answer. If, however, I ask you questions that lead to the answer, when you arrive at it, the answer will be your answer. As such, if you come into contact with alternative alternative answers, you will be much less likely to abandon the one I taught you.’

I saw this type of ˜questioning  in action in Sefat, Israel in 2006 in a small photography shop run by an elderly Rabbi. The artwork in this shop was literally amazing, and one of the men in our group asked the rabbi which of the pieces was his favorite. The conversation then went like this:

Rabbi: May I ask you a question?

Jon: Yes

Rabbi: Are you married?

Jon: Yes, why?

Rabbi: Do you have children?

Jon: Yes. (pause) Why?

Rabbi: Which of them is your favorite?

And thus, he had his answer. To a westerner like me, it seems that it would have been simpler to say ‘I can’t pick one, because each has something I love’ (or something similar), but that answer would not have been nearly as personal as the one given by the elderly rabbi.

In a similar fashion, much of Yeshua’ teaching was in the form of questions and stories rather than simple exposition. On the occasions when we see him interacting with students/adherents to other schools, he uses this technique to point to an answer before giving exposition on the subject, as the answer to his questions often contain the answer he is giving. Also, in many cases where Yeshua is being questioned, it is out of an honest attempt to learn his teaching on a subject, not always to trap him.

The Debates

When Hillel died in 10 A.D., the Shammites took over the Pharisee role within the Sanhedrin and became the primary religious influence in Judea, whereas in the Galilee region, where Yeshua lived and was raised, the teachings of Hillel held sway. With this in mind, the pharisees that opposed Yeshua we often identified as Judeans (or were located in Jerusalem in Judea), whereas the ones sympathetic to Yeshua or his followers (like Gamaliel, Hillel’s grandson) were Gallilean.

According to Josephus and other Jewish records, there were a number of key debates being waged between the rabbinical schools. These included divorce, who is my neighbor, hand-washing, marriage in the afterlife, the greatest commandment, healing on the Sabbath (Shammai taught you shouldn’t even pray for the sick on the Sabbath, let alone heal them!), the purpose of the Sabbath and whether Gentiles could be saved. The animosity shown between the Shammites and the Hillelites are hard to understate, with comparisons to the classic Calvinist/Arminian debate holding similarities, with the Shammites holding to a strict fundamentalist view of scripture and practice and the Hillelites holding to a much more lenient, contextual view which emphasized the balance between love for God and love for your neighbor.

As such, it is interesting that in the eight key debates that Yeshua entered, he sided with the School of Hillel – or went even farther than Hillel – in seven and only sided with Shammai in one case (that of when divorce is acceptable).

For instance, in the debate of “who is my neighbor?”, Shammai taught that only God-fearing, observant Jews were ‘neighbors’ (thus, the only ones worthy of love). Hillel, on the other hand, taught that everyone – including one’s enemies – were ‘neighbors’, with the exception of the hated, apostate Samaritans. And so, when Yeshua was asked (in the scripture above), “Who is my neighbor?” he entered this debate:

In reply Yeshua said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”

It should be noted that the priest and the Levite were both obeying Torah by not touching a dead or nearly-dead body and becoming unclean, so they were following the law, as interpreted by Shammai and other strict rabbinic schools of thought. According to Pharisee teaching, though, all life was sacred and the proper thing to do would have been to stop and help the man or bury him (thus becoming unclean for a time) if he died. A number of commentators suggest that the expert in the Torah was likely expecting Yeshua to make the “good guy” a pharisee, thus siding with Hillel on the issue of the importance of life above ritual cleanliness.

Instead, though, Yeshua said:

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” [Note: he couldn’t even SAY the word ‘Samaritan’]

Yeshua told him, “Go and do likewise.”

And so, Yeshua’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” was everybody, including the most despised apostate you can think of, going further to the ‘left’ of Hillel.

So, when viewed within the context of his world, this is just one more example where we can get a view into why Yeshua was asked certain questions, how he interacted with his world, and some of the political/religious backdrop that ultimately led to his death, burial and resurrection.

 

What’s in a Name_ הושע becomes יהושע _ Sefaria Source Sheet Builder

 

WHETHER IT WAS FOR TWO DAYS


A person might ask: Since we are expecting Mashiach at ever
moment, how can we possibly immerse ourselves in the
drudgery of everyday life and even make plans for the future? If we
are truly excited about the coming of Mashiach, how can we be
excited about serving God in the world as it is before Mashiach comes?
The answer to these questions can be found in the way that the
Tabernacle was dismantled and erected in the desert. Often, the
Jewish people would stay encamped in one place for a considerable
period of time—as much as 19 years (Rashi to Devarim 1:46) —so the
need for fully erecting the Tabernacle, with all the labor involved,
was understood. But “sometimes, the cloud remained for (just) a few
days… and sometimes the cloud remained from night until morning,
and when the cloud rose in the morning, they traveled” (v. 20-21) .

MONTH OR A YEAR …” ( V . 22)

So what was the point of the hundreds of man-hours involved in
erecting the Tabernacle, if it was to be dismantled soon afterwards,
sometimes the following day?
The Talmud explains that since ”they encamped by the word of
God, and they traveled by the word of God” (v. 23) , each encampment
was not considered to be transitory in nature, because the direct
Divine command to camp at that point, “conferred it with the
importance of a permanent settlement” (Eruvin 55b) .
Likewise, while it is true that our current work is transitory in
nature, for Mashiach is about to arrive at any moment, nevertheless,
since in our daily work we are following “the word of God,” we
should view what we are doing as having the utmost importance and
be enthusiastic in carrying out the tiniest detail.
(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Vayigash 5747)

Parshas & Haftorah Beshalach

Parshas Beshalach

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel (Children of Israel – Jews) had left Mitzrayim (Egypt). The closest route to Eretz Yisroel (The Land of Israel) was along the Mediterranean coast up into Israel. However; this territory was occupied by the Philistines. The Bnai Yisroel were not ready for a battle, so Hashem (G-d) lead them toward the Sea of Reeds. Pharaoh was informed that The Bnai Yisroel appeared to be lost, and he strengthened his resolve and that of his people and pursued the Jews into the Desert.

2nd Aliya: The Egyptians caught up to the Jews as they were camped by the edge of the sea. (Imagine the thundering sound, and cloud of dust that 600 charging chariots must have made and you can begin to understand the pure terror that must have struck the hearts of the people.) Moshe reassured them that they only had to trust Hashem and stand silently as His awesome majesty wiped out the might of Mitzrayim.

3rd Aliya: Moshe was told to stretch out his staff over the sea. Hashem separated the Jews from the Egyptians with a cloud cover and caused an Easterly wind to blow the entire night. As the waters parted, the Bnai Yisroel entered between the towering walls of water and crossed to the other side. The Egyptians chased after them into the parted waters of the sea.

4th Aliya: Moshe stretched his arm back over the sea and the waters returned to their natural state, drowning the might and glory of Egypt’s best. The Bnai Yisroel witnessed G-d’s awesome display of justice and they believed in the reality of Hashem and in the appointment of Moshe as His most trusted servant. Moshe, and then Miriam, lead the Bnai Yisroel in a spontaneous song of exaltation and thanksgiving. The incident with the bitter waters at Marah is detailed.

5th Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel struggled with the realities of their experience, attempting to balance faith with practical concerns for survival. The concerns for food and water were overwhelming and Moshe promised them quail and Maana. These “miracles” were introduced to the Jews as evidence of Hashem’s love, caring, honor and glory.

6th Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel were given strict instructions regarding the gathering and eating of the Maana. They were introduced to Shabbos, and an urn of Manna was saved for posterity.

7th Aliya: The nation traveled to Rephidim, and confronted Moshe over the issue of water. Moshe saw this as an unnecessary challenge to Hashem’s caring and love. Hashem instructed Moshe to hit the rock and bring forth water. The final episode in the Parsha was Amalek’s unprovoked attack on the newly independent nation. Yehoshua lead the attack against Amalek while Moshe, Aharon, and Chur (Miriam’s son) stood atop the battle field with Moshe’s arms stretched heavenward. Hashem commanded us to eradicate and never forget Amalek’s evil.

Haftorah Beshalach
Shoftim 4:4

This weeks Haftorah is found in Shoftim (Judges) chapter 4. It relates the story of Devorah the Prophet, who along with her husband Barak, ruled the nation for 40 years. The year was 2654 – 1107 b.c.e and the nation was subject to the rule of Yavin of Canaan and his evil General Sisra. In a decisive battle at the foot of Mt. Tabor by the brook of Kishon, Hashem delivered the armies of Yavin into the hands of Barak and the Bnai Yisroel (Children of Israel). Sisra, the general, fled the battlefield on foot and sought refuge in the tent of Yael (a non-jew). He asked for water but she gave him milk, and he then fell into a deep sleep. Yael took a tent stake and drove it through the skull of the evil Sisra.

Reminiscent of the destruction of Mitzrayim by the Yam Suff (Sea of Reeds) and the Shira which was sung by the Bnai Yisroel, Devorah sang a magnificent song filled with the praises and glory of Hashem. This Haftorah is the longest Haftorah in the course of the year.

Parsha Summary, Copyright © 2016 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.

Parshas Tazria-HaChodesh

Parshas Tazria

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st, 2nd and 3rd Aliya: The laws of purity and impurity as they pertain to childbirth are discussed. The basic laws of Tzaras, its diagnosis by a Kohain, the possibility of a quarantine, and the laws of Tzaras as it relates to healthy and infected skin are discussed.

4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th Aliyot: The laws of Tzaras as it relates to a burn, a bald patch, dull white spots, and the presence of a Tzaras blemish on clothing is detailed.


Maftir HaChodesh

This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read the section known as HaChodesh. The additional sections of Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and Chodesh are read prior to Pesach for both commemorative and practical reasons.

This additional section from Shemos, Parshas Bo, Chapter 12, is read on the Shabbos before the month of Nissan, or on the Shabbos of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This section is an account of the very first Mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation. It includes the concept of Rosh Chodesh – the New Moon, as well as the basic laws of Pesach and the Pascal Lamb. Being that Pesach starts on the 15th of Nissan, this section is read about two weeks before Pesach begins. As with Parshas Parah, Chazal wanted the reading of this Parsha to be a reminder that Pesach is almost upon us! Only two more weeks to make the necessary arrangements to get to Yerushalayim and bring the Paschal Lamb! Only two more weeks and your house had better be in order! (are you panicked yet?)

It is interesting that Hashem selected the Mitzvah of the New Moon as the first national Mitzvah. Basically, the Mitzvah required two eye witnesses to testify before Beis Din that they had seen the tiny sliver of the new moon’s crescent that is the very first exposure of the moon’s new monthly cycle. The Beis Din would then declare the start of the new month.

The most obvious consequence of this procedure was the 29 or 30 day month, otherwise identified by a one or two day Rosh Chodesh. A two day Rosh Chodesh is comprised of the 30th day of the previous month and the 1st day of the new month. A one day Rosh Chodesh means that the preceding month was only 29 days long making Rosh Chodesh the 1st day of the new month. This would have an immediate effect on the scheduling of Yomim Tovim and other calendar ordained activities. It underscores from the very inception of the nation that the Beis Din, representing the Rabbinic leadership of the nation, were the single most important factor in guaranteeing the practice of Torah throughout time. It was as if G-d would wait for Beis Din to notify Him when His Yomim Tovim were to be.


Haftorah HaChodesh
Ezekiel Chapter 45

This week’s Haftorah is from Yechezkel – Ezekiel Chapter 45 and is related to the reading of Parshas Hachodesh. The latter chapters of Yechezkel describe the future Bais Hamikdash and the service that will take place once Mashiach has come and the Jews have returned to Eretz Israel. The Haftorah describes the offering that the Prince (the King or the High Priest) will bring on Rosh Chodesh – the New Moon.

This selection from Yechezkel is especially appropriate for the Shabbos that precedes or coincides with the beginning of the month of Nissan. The month of Nissan is known as the month of redemption. Our exodus from Egypt took place in the month of Nissan. The Mishkan was first assembled on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The Mizbeach was inaugurated into service during the first 12 days of Nissan. Therefore, we hope that this year, in the month of Nissan, we will again merit to be redeemed from exile, rebuild the Bais Hamikdash, and again inaugurate the Mizbeach by bringing the Rosh Chodesh offering in the service of G-d.

Parsha Summary, Copyright &copy 2016 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.

Parshas Shemini

Parshas Shemini

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st & 2nd Aliyot: The Parsha begins on Nissan 1, 2449. The seven-day inauguration of Aharon and his sons was completed and the ceremonies for the Mizbeach’s consecration had begun. Over 40 offerings would be brought on that first day, each requiring the direct ministrations of Aharon. Aharon blessed the nation with the standard priestly blessing after which Moshe and Aharon blessed the nation with the special Bracha of Psalm 90.

3rd Aliya: The deaths of Nadav and Avihu are recorded at the very same time that fire descended from heaven to light the Mizbeach. Their cousins removed the bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the courtyard of the Mishkan. Moshe instructs Aharon and his two remaining sons, Elazar and Isamar, that they are forbidden to overtly mourn the deaths of Nadav and Avihu in the standard manner. It is from here that we are taught the standard practices of tearing Kriyah and of mourners not cutting their hair.

4th & 5th Aliyot: Moshe instructs Aharon and his sons to continue the service of the Mizbeach’s consecration. The first recorded difference in Halachik rulings is recorded between Moshe and Aharon as it pertained to the eating of the Rosh Chodesh offering. (Note 16-20, Stone Edition ArtScroll pg. 595)

6th Aliya: The basic laws of Kosher and non-Kosher animals, fish, and fowl are recorded. Note that verses 11:4-7 is one of the established proofs for the divine authorship of the Torah.

7th Aliya: The basic laws of purity and impurity are recorded. It is important to clarify that the Torah does not associate “Tummah” impurity and “Taharah” purity with good and bad. The entire process involves the concept of life and death and the symbolic emphasis that the Torah places on serving G-d with optimism and vigor. So long as there is life there is the opportunity to grow in our relationship with G-d.

The question of “Why are we commanded to keep Kosher?” is answered in 11:44-47. The Torah clearly states that the reason to keep Kosher is to emulate G-d’s sanctity. Sanctity “Kedusha” means being set apart and different. Just as G-d is apart from all things and divine in every way, so too are we to be set apart from all other nations and be different in the manner of our eating.


Maftir Parah

This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read the section known as Parah. The additional sections of Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and Chodesh are read prior to Pesach for both commemorative and practical reasons. Shekalim, the first additional section, dealt with the 1/2 Shekel and the public sacrifices. The reading of the second section, Zachor, facilitated our fulfillment of the Mitzvah to remember the evil of Amalek. The two sections of Parah and Chodesh are directed toward our preparations for Pesach.

On Parshas Parah, we read the section found in the beginning of Parshas Chukas known as Parah. This section discusses the necessary steps that had to be followed to remove the impurity which caused by having had contact with a dead person. This process involved a seven day period during which the impure – Tameh person underwent a process involving the ashes of the Red Heifer. The process was facilitated by a Kohen, and had to take place in Yerushalayim.

The status of being Tameh restricted a person from entering into the Temple compound and / or participating in certain select activities. Although these restrictions are less applicable today because we do not have the Bais Hamikdash; nevertheless, it is incumbent upon all people, male and female, to keep these laws to the degree that they do apply.

In the time of the Bais Hamikdash it was required of every male adult to visit the Bais Hamikdash and offer a sacrifice a minimum of three times a year: Pesach, Shevout, and Succoth. However, it was even more important to be there on Erev Pesach to sacrifice the Korban Pesach – Pascal Lamb. Anyone who happened to be Tameh, from having had contact with a dead body, would have to undergo the process of the Parah Adumah – the Red Heifer, to remove the status of Tameh and be allowed to bring his Pascal Lamb to the Bais Hamikdash.

The Talmud tells us that the furthest point in Israel from Yerushalayim was a two weeks travel. If so, a person who was Tameh living two weeks travel away would require a minimum of three weeks to arrive in Yerushalayim with sufficient time to go through the one week process of the Red Heifer and be able to offer his Korban Pesach. Therefore, Chazal ordained the reading of Parah on the week before the reading of Chodesh as a public reminder to those who are Tameh that they must immediately arrange to get to Yerushalayim so that they can purify themselves in time to bring the Korban Pesach.

Summary of The Haftorah:

Haftorah Parah
Yechezkel 36:16

This week’s Haftorah reflects the reading of Parshas Parah. Yechezkel, the prophet, berated the people for their defection away from G-d. Their behavior defiled Eretz Yisroel rendering them unfit to remain within her boundaries. Therefore, the Jews had to be exiled from their land and dispersed among the nations. The exile and the consequent suffering while in exile would serve as a process purification process for the nation. In essence, the exile would be a national Parah Adumah – Red Heifer.

Central to the theme of the Haftorah is the fact that Hashem ultimately redeems the nation, “for His own sake.” While in exile the Jews are able to spread the word of G-d and teach His existence to the other nations. However, exile will also take its toll on the Jews. The Jews interaction with other nations will result in furthering the very defection which caused G-d to first punish the nation.

Among the mysteries of the Parah Adumah is the fact that the Kohen who administers the ashes becomes impure while the recipient of the ashes becomes pure. In essence this is the experience of the Jew in exile. The Jews have brought knowledge and understanding of G-d to the nations wherein which they were exiled, while at the same time suffering terrible persecution and assimilation through their association with the non-Jewish world. The nations have become pure while the Jews have become impure.

In the end G-d will redeem the nation and gather them in from the four- corners of the earth, “for His own sake.” The time will come when the purpose of the Jew in exile will have been fulfilled. Then, there will be no further reason for the Jew to remain among the other nations and G-d will renew His covenant with the Bnai Yisroel and return them to Eretz Yisroel.

Parsha Summary, Copyright &copy 2016 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.