Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Re’ah II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Re’ah, tells us that[1]When Hashem expands your boundary, as He told you (that He will), and you say, ‘I will eat meat.’ (Why will you say this?) Because you desire to eat meat. (Then,) according to the desire of your heart may you eat meat.”

Just what does the Torah mean by this? Moshe Rabbeinu was telling the Jews some of the laws that would apply when they finally reached their promised land. Rashi cites the words from this verse, “according to what your heart desires,” and explains the following. “In the desert, however, the meat of a non-consecrated animal was forbidden to them. They were only permitted to eat meat which they consecrated and offered as a peace offering.” During the years in the wilderness, they could not eat meat simply because they wished to. It was prohibited to have hamburgers for dinner simply because that was what they wanted to eat. Instead, they could only eat meat, which they first consecrated and brought as a sacrifice.

Just as everything the Torah says, this teaches us a great lesson in our service of Hashem. Throughout the forty years of wandering in the desert, the Jewish nation did not perform any physical activities. Hashem miraculously took care of all of their material needs. They ate Mon (Manna) from heaven and drank from “Miriam’s Well,” which followed them throughout their sojourn in the wilderness. Their clothing, which grew with them, was kept clean and pressed by the “Clouds of Glory.” Their sole occupation was to study Torah directly from Moshe Rabbeinu. When they did eat meat, it had first to be sanctified.

Once they entered Israel, they had to begin dealing with the physical world to elevate everything around them to G-dliness.

Shortly after this, the Torah warns us to[2] “be strong not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul. You shall not eat the soul with the flesh.” When we entered Israel, Hashem permitted us to eat even unconsecrated meat. Eating meat, which had previously been a Mitzvah, had become a mundane activity. Nevertheless, they had to take care not to eat the blood. The “boiling blood” of the physical should not be their focus. Instead, their enthusiasm should come from the opportunity to elevate the world to the Divine.

The same is true for each of us. We must certainly be involved with the physical world in which G-d placed us. However, our excitement should come from our ability to transform this world into a dwelling place for Hashem.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a sweet new year.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Pages 1108 – 1114


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
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, Devorim 12:20.

[2]. Ibid., 12:23.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Re’ah

Click here for a printable version.

This week we read the Torah portion of Re’ah. This portion tells us to[1] “Keep the month of spring, and make the Pesach offering to Hashem. For in the month of spring, Hashem brought you out of Egypt at night.” Rashi cites the words “keep the month of spring” and explains the meaning of these words. “Before (the month of) Nissan arrives, watch that it should be fit for spring, capable of producing ripe ears of barley by the sixteenth of the month. We would need the barley to offer as the Omer meal offering. And if not (if it is not yet spring,) proclaim it a leap year[2].”

We can understand everything in Torah on many different levels. There is a simple meaning to each verse. However, we can also understand each verse according to an infinite amount of levels. Each level is higher and more profound than that which preceded it. We want to explain the above verse with Rashi’s comments in a manner that will provide us with a lesson in the service of Hashem.

During the winter, all growth is hidden; it is asleep. It seems to us as if there is no growth whatsoever. During the spring, the beauty and greenery suddenly awaken. We become aware that nature was temporarily gathering its strength. Now, in the spring, it appears in all of its glory.

The same was true during our exile in Egypt, which was a bitter time, both physically and spiritually. We began on the forty-ninth level of impurity. We were able to elevate ourselves in a mere fifty days to a level that allowed us to receive the Torah directly from the Almighty Himself.

This provides each of us with a lesson. At times we may (G-d forbid) undergo a period during which there appears to be no growth. Everything around us seems to be frigid and lifeless. We must realize that this is just a temporary state. We are merely gathering the strength needed to “spring” into life. We must indeed never become despondent. We need to be constantly aware that we can now step up, rise to the complete and true redemption with our righteous Moshiach immediately, now.

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

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Igros Kodesh Volume 4, Letter 994


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
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, Devorim 16:1.

[2]. In the Jewish calendar, a leap year refers to a year in which one month is added. This allows enough time for the barley to ripen.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Eikev II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week we read the Torah portion of Eikev. In this Parshah, the Torah teaches us the second paragraph of Shema, which begins,[1] “And it will be if you obey My commandments that I command you this day … and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Rashi cites the words “and to serve Him with all of your heart” and explains as follows. “This means with a service of the heart, namely prayer. We refer to prayer as service, as it says,[2] “your G-d, Whom you serve regularly.”

The Mishnah, at the beginning of Chapter Five of Berochos, says,[3] “One must not stand up to say the Amidah without deep earnestness (literally a heavy head).” Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, explains this as follows. One may not pray for his own needs. Instead, one must pray on behalf of the Shechinah, the G-dly presence. The Shechinah is the head of everything which exists.

The Maggid’s explanation, however, is not so simple. The Rambam explains that the Halachic definition of prayer is to request all of one’s needs from Hashem[4]. Only in this manner will he realize that Hashem alone takes care of all of our needs. How can we reconcile the two?

We can explain this as follows. Each of us must be subservient to Hashem. I must consider myself as nothing besides Him; He is my entire being. Therefore, the Shechinah encapsulates all of my needs. My only prayer is to draw down Hashem, our collective head and existence, throughout all worlds.

It is not enough for us to know this. Instead, we must feel this realization. Hashem is the life of every one of us and the presence of all worlds, both high and low.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer. May we all merit the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 34, Page 73


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
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, Devorim 11:13.

[2]. Daniel 6:17.

[3]. Mishnah Berochos, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1.

[4]. Rambam, Laws of Prayer, Chapters 2 – 4.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Eikev

Click here for a printable PDF.

In this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, the Torah says[1] “For if you keep all these commandments which I command you to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all of His ways, and to cleave to Him …” Rashi cites the words “to walk in all of His ways,” and gives the following explanation. “Hashem is merciful, so too must you be merciful. He performs acts of kindness, so too you must bestow loving-kindness.” In other words, the Torah is telling us to follow all of Hashem’s ways.

We find that Divine speech can act. For example, we find that[2] “the world was created with ten utterances.” This means that G-d created the world with His speech. Since we are commanded “to walk in all of His ways,” it would seem that our speech can also accomplish actions. How is this possible?

This can be done under two conditions. We are taught that[3] “words which come from the heart, will enter the heart of the person to whom they have been spoken.” This means that the Torah assures us if we speak words of Torah and Mitzvos, which we sincerely believe and feel, they will have their desired effect. Under these circumstances, our words are capable of acting.

The second condition is to fear Hashem, i.e., to feel His presence and stand in awe of Him continually. As the Gemorah writes[4], “the words of one who fears heaven are heeded.”

There is an important message which we must take from the above. Each of us can accomplish great things through our speech alone. We can all change the world by speaking to our fellows, and drawing them closer to Torah and Mitzvos. This is true provided that we make the proper decisions. Firstly, we must sincerely mean what we are saying. In addition to this, we must feel Hashem in our lives, to the extent that we stand in awe of Him. It is up to us. By conducting ourselves in the proper manner, we can transform this world into a dwelling place for Hashem with our speech.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer. May we all merit the complete and final redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Igros Kodesh Volume 15, Letter Number 5,429.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
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, Devorim 11:22.

[2]. Pirkei Avos, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1.

[3]. See the Sefer Hayashar of Rabbeinu Tam, Gate 13.

[4]. Talmud Berochos, Page 6b.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eschanan II

Click here for a printable PDF.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vo’eschanan, the Torah describes (for the second time[1]) the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It tells us all of the Ten Commandments which Hashem gave us. The Torah then tells us that[2] “Hashem spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness. (He said) these words with a great voice, which did not cease.” Rashi cites the words from the verse “which did not cease” and gives two explanations. The first is that “Targum Onkelus[3] explains the words to mean ‘and it did not cease,’ for His voice is strong and exists continuously.”

In other words, Rashi is telling us that this voice had no limitations whatsoever. The spiritual and the material are opposites. Physical objects are not inherently capable of “absorbing” spirituality, G-dliness. Likewise, G-dliness cannot “penetrate” the physical. However, this was a “great voice,” a Divine voice. It transcends both the material and the spiritual. Before this mighty voice, the physical and the G-dly are equal. Only the physical world itself can absorb such G-dly energy.

The same is true of a person’s service of Hashem. There are two aspects of the Torah. One is its intellectual aspect. Understanding the Torah, to the extent that a person can grasp it, requires the use of one’s mental faculties. However, there is a second aspect of the Torah; it is Hashem’s will and wisdom. He is a perfect unity. Hence, His will and understanding are one with Him[4]. This is the “great voice” of the Torah. It transcends this physical world.

Torah, which one learns for its intellectual perspective alone, cannot penetrate the physical, human body. However, when one studies “the great voice” of the Torah, it is absorbed by his entire being. It can even penetrate his heels, the lowest part of his body.

The Torah, which he learns, affects him even after he finishes learning. When one is busy conducting his worldly activities, it is apparent that he is a Jew who studies Torah.

By hearing the “great voice which does not cease” when learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos, we can transform this world into a dwelling place for the Holy One, blessed be He, and bring about the coming of Moshiach.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer. May we merit the time of the complete and final redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1095


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


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


[1]. The first time was in Parshas Yisro, beginning with Shemos 20:1.

[2]. Our Parshah, Devorim 5:19.

[3]. There are a number of Aramaic translations of the Torah. That of Onkelus is the closest to the simple explanation of each verse. It is often quoted by Rashi.

[4]. See Tanya, Chapters 4 – 5.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vo’eschanan I

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Vo’eschanan, begins with Moshe saying that[1] “I entreated Hashem at that time saying.”  Moshe was begging Hashem to change His decree and allow him to enter Eretz Yisroel. Rashi offers two explanations for the Torah’s use of the word “Vo’eschanan – and I entreated.” He cites the words from the verse, “And I entreated,” and explains as follows. “The word חִנּוּן (and all words which are related to it, such as “Vo’eschanan”) signifies (requesting) a gift… Another explanation is that this (חִנּוּן) is one of ten terms which denote prayer.” We need to understand why Rashi needs to offer two different explanations for the word “Vo’eschanan.”

Rashi writes in the very next verse that Moshe Rabbeinu knew that “it had already been decreed (by Hashem)” that he would not be permitted to enter Israel. Nevertheless, Rashi writes[2] that Moshe prayed that Hashem grant him entrance. In Rashi’s words, he thought that “perhaps G-d had annulled His vow.”

The Sages of the Talmud discuss whether prayer can change a decree which Hashem already issued[3]. The Gemorah concludes that prayer will not help to change a decree which was issued against an individual. However, prayer does have the ability to change a decree issued against the community.

Based on this, we can understand the two opinions in Rashi regarding Moshe’s prayer to G-d. Some say that a decree against Moshe is the equivalent of a decree against the Jewish Nation. This is in keeping with what Rashi taught us earlier[4]; “Moshe is Israel and Israel is Moshe. This teaches us that the leader of the generation is equal to the entire generation, for the leader is everything.” Based on this, Rashi’s explanation that “Vo’eschanan” means prayer is quite clear. Since Moshe is the community, even after Hashem ordained the decree against him, prayer can still help.

However, according to those who say that a decree against Moshe is as if it’s against one individual, prayer would not help. Praying could not affect. Therefore, we could not say that “Vo’eschanan” means prayer. According to this opinion, we must say that “Vo’eschanan” means that Moshe was requesting a free gift, i.e., something which he did not earn.

 We can see from this how precise Rashi is. The fact that he explains one word in two different ways reflects a significant difference in the Sage’s opinion.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 24, Pages 28-35


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


לזכות
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, Devorim 3:23.

[2]. See his comments further in this same verse.

[3]. See Talmud Rosh Hashanah beginning with page 37, b.

[4]. See Rashi’s comments to the words “and Israel sent,” Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 21:21.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Devorim

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Devorim, is always read on the Shabbos immediately preceding the fast of Tisha B’Av. The holy Sheloh teaches that the weekly Torah portion is always connected to the time of the year in which we read it[1]. Based on this, there must be a connection between Parshas Devorim and Tisha B’Av. We need to understand what this connection is.

Rashi tells us at the beginning of our Torah portion, that even at the same time that Hashem is rebuking the Jews, He is also concerned with their honor. Rashi cites the words from the first verse of our Parshah[2], “These are the words.” He comments that “these are words of rebuke, and here Moshe lists all of the places where the Jews angered Hashem. Therefore, the Torah does not explicitly mention their transgressions. Rather, it alludes to their sins by mentioning the names of the places where they angered G-d. This is done out of respect for the Jews.”

Why is there this concern for the Jews’ honor at the time that He rebukes them? Because, the goal of rebuking them is in order to elevate them; i.e., in order to add to their honor. This teaches us that at the time of exile, the Jews’ glory is apparent. The reason for the exile and destruction which is commemorated on Tisha B’Av is the redemption which will ultimately be enjoyed. The exile itself is an expression of Geulah.

We find the same idea in the book of Eichoh, Lamentations[3]. It begins with the words “O how has the city that was once so populous (Jerusalem) remained alone!” There is something very positive about “remaining alone.” We see this in the prophecy that the Jews are[4] “a nation that will dwell alone and will not be reckoned among the nations.” The fact that Jerusalem “remained alone,” and the Jews “dwell alone” means that the Jews will not mix with idolaters. It is indicative of the time of redemption.

Even at times when things may not seem all that positive, we can be certain that all is well. Nothing negative descends from above. The exile itself is a preparation for and a step toward the redemption. Wishing one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 7


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש


IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


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


[1]. Sheloh at the beginning of Parshas Vayeishev. See also Zohar volume 2 page 206, b.

[2]. Parshas Devorim, Devorim 1:1.

[3]. As implied by its name, this book of the Bible laments the destruction of the Holy Temple and the ensuing exile. It is read as part of the service on Tisha B’Av.

[4]. Parshas Balak, Bamidbar 23:9.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Matos-Massei

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Matos-Massei, begins with the laws of annulling vows. The Torah says[1] “If a man makes a vow to Hashem, or if he makes an oath to prohibit something from himself, he may not violate his word. He must do whatever came out of his mouth.” Rashi cites the words “he may not violate his words.” He explains that it means that “he shall not profane his word. He shall not treat his word as being unholy.” Simply put, Rashi is saying that one must keep his word.

Let us put this into context. The Jews were ending their forty years in the wilderness and standing on the brink of entering the Holy Land. What was the difference between life in the desert and the life which awaited them in Israel? In the wilderness they had no physical concerns whatsoever. They always had food to eat, the Manna which fell seven days a week. They always had what to drink; water from Miriam’s well. They had no need to be concerned with clothing; their clothes were cleaned, pressed and grew with them thanks to the Clouds of Glory. These special clouds would also serve as their protection. Their only concern was following Hashem’s commandments and learning Torah from Moshe Rabbeinu, the world’s greatest Rosh Yeshivah.

Contrast that with the life which they would lead in Israel. They would have to work for their food. It would involve ploughing, planting and harvesting. Only then would they be able to begin making food from the grain which they managed to collect! They would have to dig for water and make their own clothing. They would even need to build their own shelter. What is the reason for this great change? The years in the desert were merely a preparation for what was to follow. This is similar to the first twenty years or so of a child’s life. The child is not concerned with paying bills. His main concern is doing well in Yeshivah. Once he gets married, that changes drastically.

This was the same as the change which awaited the Jews in Israel. They made the necessary preparation which were needed to fulfill G-d’s purpose in creation, namely transforming this physical world into a dwelling place for Hashem below. One fundamental part of the preparation is the laws of vows. Rashi explains this as “not profaning one’s word.” One may not make his word into something profane, i.e. not holy. Rather he must sanctify his words. Everything we say must be holy. This is a great step toward transforming this world into Hashem’s dwelling place.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 13, Page 108-109


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש


IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


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

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 30:3.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Pinchos

Click here for a printable version.

This week we read the Torah portion Pinchos. Several weeks ago, we read how Korach fomented a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon. Their punishment was that the earth opened up and swallowed Korach and his assembly. In this week’s Parshah, the Torah tells us that[1] “Korach’s sons, however, did not die.” Rashi explains that “They were originally involved in the conspiracy, but during the dispute, they contemplated repentance. Therefore, an elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom, and they stayed there.”

We need to understand why the Torah chose to tell us now that Korach’s children were saved? Why did the Torah wait over twenty chapters to let us know?

The explanation may be as follows. Regarding Korach’s assembly, the Torah tells us that[2] “They, and all they possessed, descended alive into the grave; the earth covered them up, and they were lost to the assembly.” That assembly was not aware of the fate of Korach’s children. They saw that Korach’s children initially participated in their father’s insurrection against Moshe. They also saw their punishment. However, they did not witness their Teshuvah, for, as Rashi explained, they only “contemplated Teshuvah” in their hearts. Korach’s children were lost to that assembly.

However, there was no reason for them to be lost to a subsequent assembly. The Jews who were alive now did not witness Korach’s rebellion. Rashi told us earlier that[3] “All were perfect, ready to enter the Land. There was not among them even one of those upon whom the decree had been pronounced, for all those destined to die in the desert had already perished, and these were of those about whom the Torah writes, ‘you… are all alive this day.'”

At this point, the generation that had witnessed Korach’s rebellion was no longer present. That is why now Korach’s children could leave the “elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom.” Now it became clear that “Korach’s sons did not die.”

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a healthy summer! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption, which will begin an eternal Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 33, Pages 173 ff.


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

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

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 26:11.

[2]. Parshas Korach, Bamidbar 16:33.

[3]. Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 20:22.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Chukas

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This week’s Torah portion, Chukas, tells 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” is a Divine commandment that human understanding cannot grasp. Only G-dly intellect can comprehend it. 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 form 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 “It will always be called in your name; the cow which Moshe prepared in the desert.” We have written many times that Rashi is very “stingy” 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 carried out 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 the “Red Cow” was prepared in the desert. A desert is a place of[2] “…snakes, vipers, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water …” Nevertheless, it was from this cow specifically that all subsequent cows would be prepared. Rashi writes that each cow is called by Moshe’s name. Thus, with the power of Moshe, 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. In that manner, we will undoubtedly bring Moshiach now!

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

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 4, Page 1061


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

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

DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES


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

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