The Rashi of the Week: Parshas Ki Siso & Poroh

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Leading up to Pesach, we read four special additional Torah Portions. This week we read Parshas Poroh, which tells us of the Red Heifer, which was a part of a process used to purify one who became defiled by contact with a corpse.

The portion begins by telling us that[1] “This is the statute (Chok) of the Torah which Hashem commanded saying, ‘Speak to the Jewish people and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.’” A “Chok,” translated as a statute, is a Divine commandment that human understanding cannot grasp. We can only understand this with G-dly intellect. The law of the “Red Cow” is the statute of the Torah. It is the most outstanding of all “Chukim” (plural of “Chok”). Through this procedure, one who came into contact with a corpse can become ritually purified.

There are various levels of spiritual impurity. Each is the result of contact with death in one form or another. Hence the most severe state of spiritual impurity is contact with an actual corpse. The only way to remove this defilement is through the “Red Cow.”

Rashi comments on the above verse, citing the words “and have them take for you.” He writes that “We will always call this by your name; the cow which Moshe prepared in the desert.” We have written many times that Rashi is very particular with the words he uses. He only writes that which is necessary. What need is there to tell us that Moshe prepared the cow “in the desert?” We all know that whatever Moshe did after the departure was done in the desert! He received the Torah and fulfilled all of Hashem’s commandments in the wilderness!

As is the case with everything in Torah, this comes to teach us an important lesson. One can ask how it is possible to purify a Jew who has descended to the lowest level and finds himself in an unclean environment. The answer is that he must keep in mind that Moshe prepared the “Red Cow” in the desert, which was a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specifically that we prepared all subsequent cows. Rashi writes that each cow is called by Moshe’s name. With Moshe’s power, the leader of the generation, we can purify every Jew. This is true regardless of how far he has fallen and whatever his surroundings are. 

We must use that power to sanctify ourselves and all of those around us. This way, we will indeed bring Moshiach now!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 19:2.

[2]. Parshas Aikev, Devorim 8:15.

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