PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 3
3 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
0 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 87
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1245
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 4670
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Shoftim / Judges 11:1 - 33
This week we study Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
our last episode Moshe's name was cleared and Shevet Levi
was declared the winner in an all-out rebellion by Korach and his
Hashem rewards the descendants
of Aharon with 24 presents from Bnei Yisroel. But only
pure Kohanim can partake in these gifts! What if a Kohain
touches a dead body and becomes tamay? What if any Jewish
person touches a dead body and becomes tamay? How will
he become pure again?
Don't have a cow.. have a "Parah
Adumah" - a red cow.
commands any tamay person not to enter the Camp of the
Shechinah. He must wait seven days. On the third and seventh
days a Kohain sprinkles him with the ashes of a Parah
Adumah, a red heifer, or red cow, mixed with water. Then,
on the seventh day he goes into the mikvah and is pure
Why the red cow?
That's Hashem's secret.
A Mitzvah that has no explanation is called a "chok."
whose reasons and logic are not understood by human intelligence.
These Mitzvot may not make sense to us but have great
meaning to Hashem. We keep them because of our love for
Hashem and purely because He has commanded us
to do so.
|The first Parah
Adumah is prepared by Aharon's son, Elazar. He finds a red
cow. But not just any red cow. It has to be a PERFECT red cow -
completely red - not even two black hairs. If the cow was ever harnessed
to a yoke, even if it did not do any work, it's no good; also, it
can't have any mum or defect.
These cows don't come along
too often. There were altogether nine Red Cows from the first
one to the destruction of the second Bait Hamikdash.
See the Midrash Maven for more details.
Miraculously, they do find
one Parah Adumah in the camp of Israel. Elazar takes the
cow beyond the clouds, outside of the camps and has it slaughtered
while he watches. Then Elazar dips his right index finger into
the Parah Adumah's blood and sprinkles it seven times
toward the Mishkan.
Next the Parah Adumah is burned - all of it, including
the skin, blood and body. A Kohain ties a stick of cedar
wood and a bunch of aizov grass together with a red wool
string. He then tosses this bundle into the fire. Elazar and the
assistant who burned the cow are now tamay until that
evening. They must go to the mikvah to become pure again.
A third assistant who is not tamay now comes to collect
the ashes of the Parah Adumah. He too, becomes tamay
The ashes of the Parah
Adumah are split into three portions that are put into three
The ashes of the Parah
Adumah are mixed with fresh spring water. This combination
is sprinkled on a person who is tamay on the third and
seventh day of tumah.
- One part is placed on Har Hazaytim, the Mount
of Olives, for Bnei Yisroel's use, and to mix with
the ashes of future Parah Adumahs.
- The second part is divided among the Kohanim to
use in purifying a Kohain who becomes tamay.
- And the third part is put away for safekeeping as per Hashem's
flashes forward forty years to say goodbye to Miriam, Moshe's sister.
On the 10th of Nissan, 2487, Hashem Himself takes back
the soul of Miriam, who will be 125 years old. Even though she is
a great person, only Moshe and Aharon show up at her funeral. This
angers Hashem. For 40 years, in Miriam's merit, water sprang
from a rock in the middle of the desert, and the Bnei Yisroel
have the nerve to ignore Miriam's death!
So Hashem shuts off
the water and throws Bnei Yisroel into a panic.
3 million men, women and children
and no water! Moshe and Aharon, meanwhile, are in a tent mourning,
when the Eirev Rav (remember those troublemakers? - they're
still around), storm in and complain about the dried up well.
Moshe and Aharon run for the Mishkan where they take
a prayer position. The Cloud of Glory descends over the tent and
Hashem assures Moshe and Aharon that the people will
have their water.
Moshe is commanded to take
the same stick that he used during the Egyptian plagues, and at
the splitting of the Red Sea. He is to gather the people by the
rock that once spewed forth water. Here he will SPEAK to the rock,
telling it to once again bring forth water.
But something goes very wrong.
The rebellious people begin to mock Moshe. Moshe, in turn, becomes
confused. Instead of talking to the rock, he hits it twice. Water
gushes out and keeps gushing as long as Bnei Yisroel
remains in the desert.
The Bnei Yisroel are satisfied but Hashem
is not. Moshe has disobeyed Hashem's command and, small
a mistake as it may be, since he is such a great tzadik,
the sin is magnified. Aharon too, stood by as Moshe hit the rock
and didn't stop him. Hashem swears that Moshe and Aharon
will both die in the desert. They will never step foot in Eretz
The place where Moshe hit the rock is called "May M'rivah,"
which means "the Waters of Dispute." Here, the Jews argued with
Moshe and Aharon till they "flew off the handle" causing them
to die in the desert.
|The Jews are camped
in Kadesh near the Kingdom of Edom. Edom is one of the last treks
of land Bnei Yisroel must pass through before entering
Moshe sends messengers to the
King of Edom requesting peaceful passage through his kingdom.
But the king flat out turns them down with a threat of war. Moshe
sends messengers a second time and the king moves his armies to
the borders of Edom. The Jews are on alert, but Hashem
tells Moshe that now is not the time to fight. Bnei Yisroel
is not prepared to do battle and Hashem does not want
to destroy Edom at this point in time.
The same story happens with the Land of Moav, the King refuses
to let Bnei Yisroel cross his land, and Hashem
does not allow Bnei Yisroel to destroy Moav at this point
in time. So the nation takes a longer route towars Eretz Yisroel.
|We are now in the
fortieth year of wandering, on the First of Av. Aharon
is 123 years old, Hashem send Moshe on a sensitive mission.
He must gently tell Aharon that it is time for his soul to return
to Hashem. The nation is camped at the base of Hor Hahar
Moshe and Elazar ask Aharon
to accompany them to the top of the mountain.They enter a cave
high up in the peaks where they find a bed with linens and a burning
candle by its side. Moshe removes Aharon's priestly garments and
places them on Elazar. Aharon lays down on the bed and is covered
completely by the Cloud of Glory. Then his soul departs.
Moshe and Elazar leave the cave. But neither one is prepared
for the mob that awaits them at the base of the mountain. Aharon
has always been a beloved national hero, known as a man of peace.
He is well loved and respected. When Moshe and Elazar return without
Aharon, the people accuse them of killing him.
Hashem orders the Malachim (angels) to lift
the coffin of Aharon high for the entire nation to see. Then the
Bnei Yisroel see the Shechinah "walk" before
the casket and mourn for him. Now, all of Bnei Yisroel
mourn Aharon's passing.
| Upon Aharon's death,
the Cloud of Glory that protects the Bnei Yisroel disappears.
The camp is exposed and the Jews are not used to this. From now
on, it is the Aron (Ark) that guides and protects the Bnei
Yisroel from enemies and dangerous scorpions and snakes. While
the cloud is down and everyone is preoccupied mourning for Aharon,
Amalek decides to attack.
They come up with a sneaky plan:
If they speak the Canaanite language, the Jews will think it
is a Canaanite nation attacking. Then they will pray to Hashem
to be saved from the Canaanites. Since the attackers are not Canaanites,
the prayers would not help. Meanwhile Amalek could keep fighting.
But the plan is foiled:
The Jews recognize the Amalekite clothing. They ask Hashem
for help in defeating "this" nation, since they can't be sure
who the attacker really is. Bnei Yisroel also promise
to give all the spoils of war to Hashem. Hashem accepts
their prayers and Bnei Yisroel defeats Amalek.
the edge of Edom the nation is very close to Eretz Yisroel.
When they learn that they'll have to backtrack through the desert,
the Eirev Rav and rebels within Bnei Yisroel start
to complain again about the taste of the Mann. Hashem
gets angry at this ungrateful group of people. A voice from Heaven
proclaims, "Listen all.. I took Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim
(Egypt), and gave them Mann. Look at a snake! Everything
it eats tastes like dust but it never complains. Let the snake punish
all those who complain about the Mann which has so many
Till now the Cloud of Glory, and then the Aron protected
the Jews from snakes and scorpions. Now, the snakes have free reign.
They bite the people who have spoken evil. Some die right away.
Others take ill. Moshe davens (prays) for the people. He
personally forgives them for their evil words. Moshe asks Hashem
to forgive them too. Hashem provides Moshe with a remedy:
Build a copper snake and place it at the top of a pole. If a person
is bitten by a snake, they must look up at the copper snake and
do Teshuvah. Only then he will be cured.
| The Bnei Yisroel
travel along the borders of Moav to reach a safe crossing into Eretz
Yisroel. Unknown to the nation, a miracle has occurred, saving
Bnei Yisroel from certain defeat: The travel path is surrounded
by mountains on either side and hidden in these mountains are soldiers
armed with arrows and rocks. There is no escape! The nation would
be buried in the valley.
When the Soldiers hide in the caves, Hashem commands the mountains to flatten on each side like fans. All the soldiers are crushed and the Bnei Yisroel are saved.The Jews might never suspect that their enemies plot is foiled except for a little flush job by the "Well of Miriam." Hashem causes the well to flood the space between the mountains. Bloody crushed bodies come streaming past the camp of Bnei Yisroel. The Jews now know of Hashem's miracle that has saved them from defeat, and praise Hashem by singing a Shira, a song of praise, for having given them the "Well of Miriam" and its constant water supply.
|The Emorite nation,
too, sits on the border of Eretz Yisroel. Moshe sends a
messenger to Sichon, King of Emor, to request permission to pass
through his land peacefully. But the nations of Canaan have paid
off Sichon. He refuses the request for passage. Instead, he decides
to try to destroy the Bnei Yisroel.
Sichon is a giant, one of those
who survived since the time of the flood. His army is fierce and
more powerful than Pharoh's ever was. But Moshe has a secret weapon
- Hashem's four letter name. When he pronounces this
name, King Sichon falls dead!
Meanwhile, the Jewish soldiers
fight the Emorite army. By sunset, the Bnei Yisroel still
have not finished the fight. So Hashem makes the sun
stand still in the sky until the war is won.
Word of the Jewish victory over Sichon and his army spreads
and the nations tremble. Only the giant, Og, Sichon's half brother,
ruler of the Kingdom of Bashan, is fierce enough to seek revenge.
Og is the strongest of all giants. Even though Moshe has faith that
with Hashem's help he will be victorious, he still worries
that Og may have a special merit for having warned Avraham when
Lot was captured. But Moshe's fears are put to rest when Bnei
Yisroel defeat Og and his armies through Hashem's
Will this be the final battle in the quest to reach safe passage into Eretz Yisroel? Will Moav finally move over and let Bnei Yisroel through?
Tune in next week as Moav
makes a move in the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Maven on Chukat
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