Vol 16.47 - Parshat Parah                         Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5740) "And why does Parah precede (Parshat HaChodesh) because it is the purification of all Yisroel" (Tal. Yerushalmi Megillah 3:5).

Explanation of the wording of Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvot pos. 113): "To make a Parah Adumah in order that its ashes be prepared etc" And the the wording of R' Saadia Gaon (in his Sefer HaMitzvot): "And a Parah as an everlasting protection";

Aspect of the ashes of the Parah and the constant need for it - in spiritual Avodah  



1. It states in Talmud Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:5):

“According to law, it should be that (Parshat) HaChodesh) precedes (Parshat Parah – the section of the red heifer), for on the first of the month, the Mishkan was set up and on the second day, the Parah was burnt. Therefore why does Parah precede it? Because it is the purification of all Yisroel" (בדין הוא שתקדים החודש לפרה)

This means that first we read Parah “to warn Yisroel to purify themselves, so that they make their korban Pesach in purity” and afterward - Parshat HaChodesh, for there is the Parsha of (the Korban) Pesach”.

From the wording of the Yerushalmi “Because it is the purification of all Yisroel“ it proves that this purification of the Parah Adumah relates to all Yidden. This is also understood from the subject of the matter (תוכן הענין) there. Namely that they enacted that one should read Parshat Parah – which the enactment of the reading is for all Yidden – before Parshat HaChodesh (even though “According to law, it should be that HaChodesh precedes Parah“) because of the reason that (Parah) is “the purification of all Yisroel“.

One must have an additional explanation and resolution of the aspect:

The reason that one must purify from a dead body (Tumat Meit), before we offer the Korban Pesach, relates only those who have incurred ritual defilement through coming in contact with a dead body (Tamei Meit). However, this is not “all Yisroel”. And on the contrary, when most of the Yidden are Tamei Meit, one must not rely on the Parah (the “purification of all Yisroel “) to allow them to offer the Korban Pesach, since the community (ציבור) may also offer the Korban Pesach, when they are impure.

Therefore why must all Yidden (where the law is that we follow the majority, not the minority) precede (the reading of Parshat) “Parah” before “HaChodesh”, because this is the “the purification of all Yisroel” and not HaChodesh before Parah (as it must be, according to Din)?

One must say that (according to Pnimiyut) that the statement that Parah is “the purification of all Yisroel” does not mean literal purification (from an actual dead body) but rather refers to such a purification that ”all Yisroel” require it for, in whatever condition they are in - and specifically this prepares them to the aspect of “HaChodesh” (and Pesach).

2. One can understand this by prefacing, that one finds an innovation in this Mitzvah of Parah Adumah:

Rambam states in sefer HaMitzvot that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah is “to make a Parah Adumah so that its ashes be ready for whoever is in need of them for his purification from the ritual defilement of coming in contact with a dead body. This means that the purpose of the Mitzvah resides not (just) in using the ashes when it is needed – when a Yid becomes Tamei Meit and must have the purification with its ashes – but rather that the ashes of the Parah must, at the very onset, be prepared for everyone who would need it. Thus at any time that a Yid would require this type of purification, he should immediately be able to purify himself with the ashes of the Parah.

The Rambam cites a verse there “it shall be a keepsake for the congregation of the Jewish people”. The meaning of this verse is that the ashes of the Parah must be prepared, kept (גרייט, משומר), for “the congregation of the Jewish people” - all Yisroel - whoever needs to rely on the purification of the ashes of the Parah.

The innovation of this is more than that:

Regarding a Tamei Meit, there is no (Biblical) obligation to purify himself. Even before the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Regel) when there is the obligation to “to purify himself for the Festival“, it

(In addition to that which, in this, there is a debate whether this is Biblical or Rabbinic, it)

applies (חל) just to those that are obligated to ascend to the Festival. This excludes others, for example, those who do not own land in Eretz Yisroel (or one who resides in the Diaspora). They are exempt from ascending to Jerusalem for the Festival (and from the Korban Pesach). He is also not obligated “to purify himself for the Festival“.

It therefore comes out that, that which the ashes of the Parah must be “ready for whoever is in need of them for his purification from Tamei Meit“ is (not just specifically for one who is obligated to use it for his purification, but also) for someone whose purification is dependent on his will. And when he awakens within himself, of his own volition, to purify himself – the ashes of the Parah must (also) be ready for him, so that he can purify himself immediately when he wants.

3. This aspect is also emphasized as well by R’ Saadia Gaon (in his Sefer HaMitzvot) who states that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah is that “the (ashes of the) heifer are kept always” (ופרה למשמרת בתדר) – meaning that the ashes of the Parah must be constantly prepared (- always) (גרייט בתדר - שטענדיק).

There are Acharonim that want to rule based on the precise wording of R’ Saadia Gaon “the (ashes of the) heifer are kept always” that he means

(Not the part of the ashes that “Yisroel was sprinkled with“, but rather)

the part of the ashes which is “placed in the Chayl“

(Note: The Chayl was a wall ten cubits high surrounding the Temple Courtyard where they put away for safekeeping a portion of the ashes from every red heifer that was burnt. The ashes were divided into three portions: one was placed in the Chayl one, on the Mount of Olives, and one, was divided among all the priestly guard posts).

For specifically on this part of the ashes (which is “placed in the Chayl“) does the verse state: “It will be a keepsake (למשמרת) for the congregation of Israel“ (like the wording of R’ Saadia Gaon “the ashes of the heifer are kept always“) – as the Sages learn from that which, one must preserve a part of the ashes from each Parah, “for a keepsake“ in the “Chayl“.

According to this it comes out that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah, in its entirety, (according to the view of R’ Saadia Gaon) is in that portion of the ashes (that was placed in the Chayl). Yet, seemingly, how can one say that the primary aspect and purpose of the Mitzvah is

(Not in the part of the ashes which is used for the purification of Tamei Meit, but rather)

in the part of the ashes which remains held “for a keepsake“?

Therefore they explain, according to what is apparent in many places, that they used to take from the ashes which were stored in the Chayl to sprinkle on the Kohen Gadol before Yom Kippur (and similarly, when the Kohen Gadol burned a new Parah Adumah).

And this is the main Mitzvah (of the Parah Adumah) since for non-kohanim (Yisroelim/ישראלים), and even lay kohanim (כהנים הדיוטים), there is no obligation that them, (as an individual) must purify themselves. Specifically a Kohen Gadol, who, solely, can perform the Avodah of Yom Kippur, is obligated with the sprinkling of the ashes (before Yom Kippur) in order that he be able to perform the Avodah. It therefore comes out that, the proof of the Mitzvah of the ashes of the Parah is in the portion of the ashes which is placed in the Chayl – “for a keepsake”.

However, this explanation in the words of R’ Saadia Gaon, require major examination since:

In addition to that which according to the aforementioned, the words “the ashes of the heifer are kept always“ is just a sign (סימן) to know what part of the ashes, is required for the Mitzvah – However, they do not explain the essence of the Mitzvah (תוכן המצוה).

For the Mitzvah (even in that portion) is

(not that, which the ashes are “for a constant keepsake”, but rather)

 in their sprinkling on the Kohen Gadol

(which is just at remote occurrences; a few times before Yom Kippur – once a year) and when we make a new Parah Adumah, which from the days of Moshe Rabbeinu was just eight times)

Yet, it is a positive Mitzvah upon all kohanim to perform the Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash each and every day. And when the individual does this, he fulfills a positive Mitzvah. And kohanim act with alacrity (כהנים זריזין הן) and they would run to the Avodah, so much so, that they had Mesirat Nefesh. Therefore the purification of the Parah Adumah is a necessary aspect (ענין הכרחי) for them. If so, why should the main Mitzvah of the Parah Adumah be in the portion of the ashes that was placed in the Chayl, from which one (just) sprinkles the Kohen Gadol?

4. Therefore it is probable to say that it is the opposite:

The intent of R’ Saadia Gaon with “the ashes of the heifer are kept always“ is like the aforementioned words of Rambam. Namely that the primary Mitzvah of the Parah is, that the ashes of the Parah should constantly be prepared “for whoever is in need of them for his purification from the ritual defilement of Tamei Meit” – “a constant keepsake“.

It is not a question from that which R’ Saadia Gaon uses the expression “for a keepsake” (which according to the exposition of the Sages means the part of the ashes that is placed in the Chayl, as aforementioned) – since his intent, with this wording is

(not according to the aforementioned exposition of the Sages, but rather)

according to the simple understanding of the verse, that “It will be a keepsake for the congregation of Israel “ means (also, or completely primarily) the general ashes which one must have prepared -“for one who needs it”.

And specifically since (the word) “who needs it” also includes the Kohen Gadol in the aforementioned times.

And as is proven from that which also Rambam cites a proof for this aspect – that the Mitzvah of the Parah Adumah is that “its ashes be ready“ - from the verse “It will be a keepsake for the congregation of Israel“.

For even that part of the ashes, which “Yisroel is sprinkled from” is included in the “It will be a keepsake” – “prepared for one who needs it”.

One must however, understand:

Why indeed, is the aspect of the ashes of the Parah, so relevant, so much so that one emphasized that it is not sufficient that the ashes be ready when needed, but that it must be “for a keepsake always” – always prepared – “for one who needs it“?

5. The answer is that everything in physicality, results and is drawn down from its spiritual aspect. The same also applies (and one could say that, on the contrary - it applies even more so) to Torah and Mitzvot - that the details of every Mitzvah, physically, are detailed according to the nature of the Mitzvah, as the Mitzvah is in spirituality.

The same is in our case:

 The reason that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah is in this manner, that it must “be ready for whoever is in need of them“ is taken from that which the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah, in its spiritual Avodah, is an aspect which is constantly demanded (פאדערט זיר שטענדיק). It must be “prepared” for each and every person in their Avodat HaShem.

The explanation of this is:

The aspect of Parah Adumah – is Teshuvah. In spirituality, Tamei Meit means that, through sins, it becomes “your iniquities were separating (between you and between your G-d) “. And when there is no “But you who cling to the L-rd, your G-d” there is also, G-d forbid, no “alive etc.” However Parah Adumah, the aspect of Teshuvah, purifies the Yid and reconnects him to his root and source in the Living G-d.

(This is as the Sages state “let the cow come and atone for the episode of the Calf“. This means that the Parah purifies for the spiritual defilement of death (the result of the aspect of sins). For each one of the sins, is (ultimately) derived from the Sin of the Calf (חטא העגל) which is the head and root (ראש ושרש) of all the sins (after Matan Torah).

This explains why in Parah Adumah, we find two extremes:

  • From one side, all of its making was specifically outside - outside of the three Jewish encampments (in the desert), unlike the sacrificial offerings which had to be brought “within” (פנים) the Tabernacle confines.
  • On the other side, the sprinkling of the ashes had to be specifically done “Directly facing the Tent of Meeting“ as it states “He . . focuses his gaze on the entrance to the Sanctuary (היכל) when sprinkling the blood.”

The reason for the above is that Teshuvah combines two extremes that are similar to it:

The innovation of Teshuvah is to atone for and refine the “outside,” (i.e., that which is outside the domain of all the encampments – to holiness). It atones and purifies (also) premeditated sins (זדונות), which are from the three completely impure Klipot (ג׳ קליפות הטמאות לגמרי) (not like regular Korbanot which just atone for inadvertent sins (שגגות)). And the power to atone for premeditated sins (outside all the encampments) is taken from a very lofty, “inside” (פנים) place.

Specifically G-d (who is above Torah) says the answer and advice and command “ענטפער ועצה וציווי “ of “Let him do Teshuvah he will be forgiven” (whereas Torah, of its own accord and level states “Let him bring a guilt-offering” which atones for inadvertent sins).

6. One could think that this aspect of Teshuvah only applies to someone who has already transgressed, and defiled and left the path (חטא ופגם ועבר את הדרך), that only he needs to make use of the Parah Adumah that is made on the “outside.” However, when a Yid behaves in a manner of “G-d made man upright”, in the proper path, the Avodah of Tzaddikim - what connection does Parah Adumah have to him?

It is indeed true, that even he must rely on Teshuvah, as the Alter Rebbe explains in many places that Teshuvah is not just for sins and that even a Tzaddik must do Teshuvah. However this is (not a Teshuvah over sins etc.) but it is the Avodah of Teshuvah for “and the spirit returns to G-d, Who gave it“(וְהָרוּחַ תָּשׁוּב אֶל ה' אֲשֶׁר נְתָנָהּ) – meaning turning oneself to his root and source so much so that it is “to G-d Who gave it”. However, what connection does he have to the Teshuvah of the Parah Adumah, “outside of the three encampments” – he is found in the “inside” (פנים)!

One says on this that the Mitzvah of Parah Adumah is “its ashes be ready for whoever is in need of them“. This means that the purpose of the Mitzvah resides not (just) in using the ashes when it is needed “. It must be stored “for constant keepsake”. One must always have within him also the motion of the Teshuvah of the Parah Adumah “for constant keepsake” – since (in the simplicity of the matter) it states: “do not believe in yourself” (אַל תַּאֲמִין בְּעַצְמְךָ) meaning that one can never be certain of his righteousness.

This is especially so according to the principle that “there is no righteous individual in the land who does good and does not sin” (אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא). “Sin” (חטא), in this context, could at least mean lacking (חסרון) – incompleteness – meaning that he did not perform his spiritual service properly or at least completely. Consequently, even the most righteous individual must do Teshuvah for a deficiency in his Avodah.

And even when one is completely devoid of sin, and the only reason that the aspect of death can have dominion over him is just because of the “serpent's machinations” (בעטיו של נחש).

As is known from the explanation of the Arizal on the verse “you shall hang him from a tree“. That when one (a Tzaddik) does not possess any sin (which would incur death) it is “you shall hang him from a tree meaning that one must attribute (hang) his death to the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, which brought death into the world.

However this itself, namely that the sin of the Tree of Knowledge has an effect, is a proof that he has a connection to the “serpent’s machinations”.

Therefore he must do Teshuvah on this. And one could say that when he does not avert the “serpent’s machinations” that is within him, it is proper that he should afterward be one who falls from his level, G-d forbid.

And how much more so is this when he contemplates the saying of the Sages that “Every generation that does not have the Beit HaMikdash rebuilt in its time, should consider it as if it had destroyed it”. This can be interpreted in a positive manner as well. For it is a ruling (פסק דין) that an individual who performs “One good deed, tips the scales for his behalf and on behalf of the entire world to the side of merit, and causes for him and them salvation and rescue”.

And since he sees that we are still in Galut, and specifically in the Galut that has the re-doubled darkness of the heels of Moshiach. (חשך כפול ומכופל בעקבתא דמשיחא)

(an “outside” that has no outside more than it (א ״חוץ״ שאיו חוצה הימנו) )

and we still have not been delivered - it is possible that it all depends on his Avodah, as aforementioned.

And as long as the Geulah does not arrive, it is, G-d forbid, “As if he (the generation that is able to “tip” it) destroyed it”. This should evoke within him literal Teshuvah in the strongest form.

7. After all this one could think that:

While it is indeed true that the motion of Teshuvah must be prepared within him: “for a constant keepsake”, nevertheless, since he is an upright individual, it is sufficient for him to have just an additional aspect to his Avodah.

For he, from his own perspective, has no relation to the “three outside encampments”. And the reason that he also must have the Teshuvah of the Parah Adumah is (not something that he caused, but rather) due to the “serpent’s machinations” which is not dependent on his will and choice. He will indeed, forewarn this through doing Teshuvah on it – but he will not make this a foundation of his Avodah (יסוד בעבודתו) – for he is on a higher level than that!

One says on this that Parshat Parsha is “the purification of all Yisroel“. Every Yid must rely on the purification of the Parah Adumah. And moreover – this is the foundation of his entire Avodah (כללות עבודתו). For he must have within him the “HaChodesh” (and Pesach) and as it states in the Midrash that (the statute of the Parah Adumah is greater than the statute of the Pesach offering, since) “those who consume the Pesach offering require it (אוכלי הפסח צריכין לה)).

In spiritual Avodah, “those who eat the korban Pesach” refers to Tzaddikim.

And “those who eat the korban Pesach, require the Parah” means that even Tzaddikim need to do Teshuvah.

Even a Tzaddik, since he has “one that he loves“ and has free choice, even to do, G-d forbid, something that is contrary to the Supernal Will – this shows that he is indeed an entity (מציאות), and that he is not entirely united with G-dliness. It therefore comes out that even this Avodah of a Tzaddik has mixed within it an entity (ego) (אריינגעמישט א מצי­אות).

And therefore even a Tzaddik must rely on the purification of the Parah Adumah to “purify” himself from the feelings of his ‘self’ (הרגש מציאותו), through the motion of Teshuvah – the bitterness (פארביטערטקייט) for that which he is an entity and is not entirely nullified to G-dliness. And specifically through the Avodah of Teshuvah, so much so, that it is in a manner that nullifies his entity (מבטל זיין מציאות), can enable him to be “those who eat the korban Pesach“. The Avodah in a manner of passing over and skipping (פסח ודילוג) so much so that he “consumes” (אוכל) it and it is made “blood and flesh as his flesh“ (דם ובשר כבשרו).

8. This is spoken of regarding a Tzaddik, and how much more so, must the Avodah of the Teshuvah of the Parah Adumah, be regarding Benonim, who possess thoughts of sinning etc. For even though “as soon as it rises (in his mind) he immediately thrusts it aside with both hands etc.”, nevertheless since such thoughts occur to him, it shows that he has not yet fulfilled the oath of “be a Tzaddik“. Therefore he must do Teshuvah on this.

And how much more so, is it regarding those who are beneath the level of the Benoni. For even though “the rank of Benoni is one that is attainable by every man; each person should strive after it“, the heartfelt wish etc. is, however, known that “If I would, at least, be a Benoni” (הלואי בינוני). Therefore one must have the Teshuvah and purification over actual sins so that he should, afterward, be able to accomplish his Avodat HaShem, properly.

And through the Avodah of Teshuvah of Parshat Parah, one immediately comes to Parshat HaChodesh. For “one does not pause between Parah and HaChodesh”. For the aspect of Parshat HaChodesh is the month of Geulah. And through the Avodah of Teshuvah of Parshat Parah, it becomes “they shall immediately (without interruption) be redeemed”, as it states: “we will be redeemed in Nisan” soon mamosh.

MSichas and Maamer Motzai Shabbat Kodesh Parshat Parah 5738

Sichas Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh 5724



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