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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

   18th Day of Adar II, 5749

Machne Israel Special Development Fund


Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Metzora

Maamar Matzah Zu

Tzivos Hashem/Pesach

6th Day Of Pesach, 5749

Shevi'i Shel Pesach, 5749

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5749

Maamar Vehechrim

Shabbos Parshas Acharei


Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

Eve Of Lag Baomer, 5749

Evening Following Lag Baomer, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

Address To The Women's Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 4th Day Of Sivan, 5749

1st Day Of Shavuos, 5749

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

Yechidus Following Shavuos

12th Day Of Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 13th Of Sivan, 5749

Sichos In English
Volume 41

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah
18th Day of Adar II, 5749
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  Motzoei Shushan Purim, 574920th Day of Adar II, 5749  


The ashes of the Red Heifer (Parah Adumah) were divided into three parts. As the Rambam explains:

And they used to divide all the ashes into three portions: one was kept on the Rampart, one on the Mount of Olives, and one was apportioned among all the watches of the priests. Those ashes which were apportioned among all the watches the priests used for sanctifying water of purification, and the ashes kept on the Mount of Olives ordinary Israelites used for sprinkling, and the ashes kept on the Rampart were carefully reserved, for it is said, And it shall be kept (as a keepsake) for the congregation of the children of Israel (Bamidbar 19:9), teaching that some of the ashes should be reserved.

So, too, they used to reserve on the Rampart some of the ashes of every red heifer they had burnt. Now nine red heifers were prepared from the time this commandment was received until the Temple was destroyed the second time: the first Moshe our master prepared, the second Ezra prepared, and there were seven from Ezra to the destruction of the Temple. And a tenth King Mashiach will prepare -- may he soon be revealed! (Laws of the Red Heifer, ch. III:end)

The purpose of the Red Heifer was to provide ashes for the purifying waters that were sprinkled on a person who had come in contact with a corpse. Why then was it necessary to set aside a part of the ashes "as a keepsake" for all the generations? Why is this mitzvah so different from other categories of tumah and purification. This question is further strengthened when we take note of R. Saadia Gaon's explanation that the role of the ashes "as a keepsake" is the main aspect of the mitzvah of the Red Heifer. How can we say that the part set aside as a keepsake is more important than the part that was actually used to bring taharah -- purification to a tameh person.

The Chassidic view of the Red Heifer sees in it the microcosm of the whole Torah and for this reason Scripture says: "This is the statute of the Torah," when it introduces the law of Parah Adumah.

The mitzvah of Parah Adumah included: (1) burning the red cow to the state of ashes and, (2) adding water to the ashes and using the mixture to sprinkle on one who had come in contact with a corpse.

In an esoteric way these two steps allude to the two steps in serving G-d of "rotzoh v'shov -- advance and retreat," raising up, and lowering down. The stage of burning the Parah Adumah represented the raising up, just as fire rises up. And the water represented the drawing down, for water flows down from a higher place to a lower place. Purification comes with the combination of both of these aspects. In this framewoek it becomes clear that the Parah Adumah was a representation of the statutes of the Torah, for in fact the structure of Torah and mitzvos is built on the two steps of advance and retreat.

The Jew's path of Divine service is made up of two movements, one is to rise from the inertial physicality by expressing a desire for G-dliness and by advancing with the burning fire of love, to come close to G-d as a sacrifice. Of this the Torah speaks when it says "Adam ki yakriv mikem -- When a man wishes to offer, from you, a sacrifice to G-d." Generally speaking this is the Divine service of prayer.

The second movement draws holiness and G-dliness into corporeal life, this takes place through Torah study and observance of mitzvos, for this draws holiness into physical things.

Looking at mitzvos in general we also see two paths -- the path of the positive commands which draw down and the negative commands which raise up (by being aloof from the prohibited things). In the permitted areas of Divine service, dealing with worldly matters that are not mitzvos, we also see two routes. On the one hand, one must take care not to allow passion and temptation to overwhelm even permitted acts by drawing holiness into the action -- and another approach is to raise the particular physical objects to become a conduit for knowing G-d.

The perfection of a Jew's Divine service is a path which fuses these two approaches together. An example of this would be the case of R. Akiva and other sages who entered the esoteric "Pardes." R. Akiva "entered in peace and left in peace." Chassidus explains -- why mention that he entered in peace, they all entered in peace? The answer is that Rabbi Akiva left in peace because when he entered his intention to rise included the goal of coming back down again. His was an advance to be followed by a retreat.

Another point however should be noted. After leaving in peace something must remain of the previous advance and sometimes you must actually enter the Pardes in totality. Thus, the halachah rules: "Our sages have taught that everyone needs the therapeutic powers of the Pardes (orchard) to the degree that he can understand and know." (see Laws of Torah Study, Alter Rebbe 1:4) This includes the esoteric teachings of the Torah.

Being the embodiment of the statutes of Torah also fits with the role of the Parah Adumah in bringing purification from tumah.

A Jew's role in Torah and mitzvos, in the mundane and gross world, closely resembles the act of spiritual purification -- symbolized by the Divine service of teshuvah by which the world is cleansed of its impurity. The problem began with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, when the power of evil gained strength, and sinfulness in our era embolders the powers of evil. Our sins cause a breach between man and G-d and not being so closely bound to life admits the shadow of the impurity associated with death. How do we rectify the world and remove the impurity of death? With the ash of Parah Adumah, the statutes of the Torah which represents all our positive acts of Torah and mitzvos. All through this pattern of Divine service there must be the two movements of advance and retreat and this brings purification.

Now we can see why part of the ash had to remain "as a keepsake."

Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity are important rules of Torah the basis on which the soul is elevated above the body and given its proper prominence. Consequently, in our work of observing the statutes of Torah we must be infused with Jewish unity, so much so, that it becomes part of the mitzvah of the Red Heifer. Consequently, part of the ashes of the Parah Adumah and of every Parah Adumah remains as a keepsake for all Jews, of all the generations, and from that ash the kohanim who will burn the future Heifer's will themselves be purified; from the ashes that was set aside for all the generations. In a sense all the Jews will draw the power to carry out their Divine service to do teshuvah and to bring taharah in the place of the tumah of death -- all this being accomplished by the general approach of Torah and mitzvos in the manner of advance and retreat.

The activity and all the ritual involved in processing the Parah Adumah included very precise and very careful observances. Yet the goal of this intricate and important precedure was to help a person who had become tameh by contact with death. Despite this condition other Jews had to relate to him with love and unity. Furthermore, the process of his becoming tahor also tied him to all Jews in all the generations, so that the theme of ahavas Yisrael becomes part of the Parah Adumah process. We may even say that specifically because of the severe descent of one who was tameh could such an ascent be effected and so perfect a purification be accomplished by the Parah Adumah, in a way that associated it to all generations.

The keepsake phenomenon also had two aspects (1) each Parah Adumah set aside a part of its ashes to be a keepsake till the time of Mashiach, (2) each Parah Adumah became part of that tradition which traced its association back to the first Parah Adumah which Moshe made.

This gives us some insight into the aspect of Torah statutes relative to all Jews. A Jew's Divine service must be individual, and yet it also should be "a keepsake" for later generations to emulate, to influence his children and grandchildren as well as other children to help set up a blessed generation involved in Torah and mitzvos.

This will ensure that in the future the Jewish people will follow Torah and mitzvos.

On the other hand, in the present, one must recognize the connection to the past generations and feel the connection to parents and ancestors till the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of our nation. One's present activities are a result of the training received from one's parents and from faithful Jews of earlier generations. They prepared the way and cleared the air so that we can do our work in Torah study and mitzvos and in serving G-d in all ways.

Thus, the part of ashes put away as a keepsake has a practical message for us. In our Divine service in "advance and retreat" we must be connected to that "keepsake." We must not be satisfied with self-improvement or even with helping other Jews of our own generations -- we cannot be complacent in this -- rather our actions must also leave a remembrance for all generations so that they will continue to follow in the same spirit of Torah life. This will also include all the accomplishments of the bygone generations.

This pan-generational aspect is more important in our generation, the time of the "heels of Mashiach," which is also the generation which will shortly be redeemed by our righteous Mashiach.

In the golus period, when we seem not to be connected to the "Living G-d," one might fall into despondency. To dispel such emotions the ashes of the Parah Adumah inform us that they are set aside as a keepsake and interconnect the first Parah Adumah made by Moshe with the tenth Parah Adumah to be made by Mashiach.

Our action and Divine service through the generations continually stand as a keepsake even in this period of the heels of Mashiach. Moreover, the Divine service of Moshe's generation stood as a keepsake for our generation. As Chassidus explains that Moshe was humbled by the terrible tribulations which he saw we would undergo and survive with joy in the time of the heels of Mashiach.

The "ashes" of our actions through the centuries of golus remain a keepsake for the time of Mashiach and from it will be drawn the rejuvenation for the tenth Parah Adumah that Mashiach will sacrifice. This is consonant with the concept that the goal of the Messianic times depends on our action through the ages.

At the same time, in our activities we must feel this responsibility that our work will stand through the generations till Mashiach, for this is our goal and so we must not only believe in Mashiach but we must also long for Mashiach. No room for despondency in the golus, for with our Divine service here and now we will bring an end to the diaspora, for we are connected from Moshe to Mashiach and just as the midget on the shoulder of a giant sees farther than the giant, so too, we can bring Mashiach now.

Because of the greater descent, the ascent will be more intense and very soon. This idea is also found in the Parah Adumah. The Red Heifer was sacrificed outside of the Temple Mount -- in contrast to all other sacrifices which had to be offered in the Temple. Yet, when he sprinkled the blood the kohen had to see the doors of the Temple.

Allegorically speaking, when we stand in the darkest period of the diaspora at the heels of Mashiach we are on the outside and all we do is outside, yet G-d sees our actions as a Chatas sacrifice, a sin offering, which atones for inadvertent transgressions. And today all our shortcomings are unintentional. Or at worst by force of the evil inclination. Teshuvah converts the intentional to unintentional and the Chatas atones. And the Parah Adumah is even more efficatious than a plain Chatas, and its power stems from supernal sources. So that while all our activities are "outside"; yet we must direct our attention so that our actions should bring the Third Beis HaMikdash and even now all our actions are to be geared to create a mini-Sanctuary where G-d can rest. This personal sanctuary for G-d should be part of every Jew's home. Build houses for Torah, prayer and good deeds as indicated by the sprinkling of the Parah Adumah.

On this Shabbos Parah we must strengthen our resolve in our observance of "the statutes of the Torah" both in "advance" movement as well as the "retreat", both in positive as well as negative commandments, in a manner that they are united. Increase the good influence on others even those who are outside the camp and who must be encouraged to come close to G-d and Torah, through Torah and mitzvos.

Do it with love -- ahavas Yisrael -- and it will be a keepsake not only for this generation but also for all generations.

This will bring us to Shabbos HaChodesh the renewal of salvation, for in Nissan where we redeemed and in Nissan we will again be redeemed. And may it be soon and speedily, right at the start of the week "on the eighth day," (which was Rosh Chodesh Nissan), may it be with the Third Beis HaMikdash and the revelation of the Ten Crowns associated with the day and the crown of Mashiach.

We must increase our actions with the crown of Torah -- the esoteric teachings -- which are compared to the precious jewel that is the diadem of the king's crown.

Then we will proceed with our youth and elders, sons and daughters as one great assembly with all the synagogues and study halls including the House of prayer and study and good deeds of the Previous Rebbe, we will all go to the Holy Land to Yerushalayim, the Holy City, to the Holy Mountain and to the Third Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies.

  Motzoei Shushan Purim, 574920th Day of Adar II, 5749  
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