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by Rabbi Eli Mansour
Shabbat Parah- The Shabbat After Purim
On the Shabbat immediately following Purim, we take
a second Torah scroll from the ark and read from it the section known as
"Parashat Para." Parashat Para, which tells of the laws of the Para
Aduma (the red heifer, whose ashes were used to sprinkle on those who had
become ritually impure), is the opening section of Parashat Chukat, until the
words, "Ve'ha'nefesh Ha'noga'at Titma Ad Ha'arev" (Bamidbar 19:1-22).
Tosefot in Masechet Berachot (13) write that the annual reading of Parashat
Para constitutes a Torah obligation; this is mentioned by other Rishonim
(Medieval Talmudists), as well, including the Rashba (Spain, 1235-1310), the
Ritva (Spain, 1250-1330) and Terumat Ha'deshen (Rabbi Yisrael Isserlin,
Germany-Austria, 1390-1460). The Shulchan Aruch indeed records this position.
Later writers have raised the question of where the Torah introduces such an
obligation. If, indeed, this reading is required according to Torah law, this
requirement must have a clear Biblical source. The work "Yalkut
Ha'gershuni" suggests that this reading is obligated by force of the
Torah's admonition to recall the unfortunate incident of the sin of the golden calf
(Devarim 9:7). As this incident marks a very sad moment in our nation's
history, we prefer not to read the actual narrative of the golden calf, and we
instead read about the Para Aduma, which serves to atone for the sin of the
golden calf. Indeed, the Sages describe the cow used for this ritual as the
mother that comes to clean the mess made by her daughter, the calf. Thus, the
reading of the Para Aduma section fulfills the Torah obligation to recall the
incident of the golden calf.
Others, however, have questioned this explanation. If this is the obligation we
seek to fulfill, we can just as easily do so on the Shabbat when we read
Parashat Ki Tisa, which contains the narrative of the golden calf. On this
Shabbat we could instruct the congregation to have in mind while listening to
this reading to fulfill the Torah obligation of remembering the incident of the
golden calf. Rather than instituting a special reading, we could fulfill this
requirement through the standard, scheduled reading of Parashat Ki Tisa. Furthermore,
when all is said and done, the Sages speak of the Para Aduma ritual as a Chok –
a Mitzva whose underlying rationale eludes human comprehension. It is therefore
difficult to claim that this Mitzva serves solely as atonement for the sin of
the golden calf.
The Aruch Ha'shulchan (Rabbi Yechiel Epstein of Nevardok, Bielorussia
1829-1888) suggests a different Biblical source of the obligation to read
Parashat Para. The Torah instructs in this section, "Ve'hayeta Lachem
Le'chukat Olam" – that this law "shall be for you an eternal
statute." The Torah here requires that we observe this law
"eternally," despite the fact that this Mitzva of purifying oneself
with the ashes of Para Aduma applies only when the Temple stands. The Aruch Ha'shulchan
therefore suggests that the Torah here refers to an obligation to verbally
recall this process by reading the relevant section in the Torah, even when
practically the ritual cannot be performed.
In any event, other scholars claimed that the reading of Parashat Para originates
from Chazal (the Sages), and is not required by Torah law. Some even claim that
Tosefot did not, in fact, cast this requirement as a Torah obligation. This
theory contends that Tosefot had written the abbreviation "Peh-Peh,"
referring to "Parashat Purim," the section read on Purim telling of
the battle with Amalek, with which one can fulfill the Torah obligation to
recall Amalek's hostility. Later editors mistakenly understood the abbreviation
as referring to "Parashat Para," and therefore reached the erroneous
conclusion that Tosefot viewed this reading as a Torah obligation. However,
this theory is difficult to accept in light of the fact that numerous other
Rishonim, as mentioned above, side with Tosefot on this matter. It is hard to
imagine that they were all misled by a printing error.
Are women included in the obligation of Parashat Para?
Presumably, this would depend on the two sources mentioned above. According to
the "Yalkut Ha'gershuni," as we have seen, we read Parashat Para to
recall the incident of the golden calf. If so, then women, who did not take
part in the worship of the golden calf, should be excluded from this
obligation. According to the Aruch Ha'shulchan, however, who explained that
this reading fulfills the obligation of eternally remembering the Para Aduma
purification ritual, it should apply equally to women, who are likewise
required to undergo purification through the process of the Para Aduma.
Therefore, women should endeavor to come to the synagogue to hear the reading
of Parashat Para. If this presents a problem given their domestic
responsibilities, they may remain at home.
It should also be noted that the highest-quality Torah scroll available should
be used for this reading, since according to many it constitutes a Torah
Summary: There is a difference of opinion as to whether the reading of Parashat
Para on the Shabbat following Purim constitutes a Torah obligation, or was
ordained by the Rabbis. Women should make an effort to come to the synagogue
for this reading unless it poses considerable difficulty, and the
highest-quality Torah scroll should be used for this reading.
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Q & A on Parashat Ki Tisa
All references are to the verses and Rashi’s commentary, unless otherwise stated.
- How many "geira" are in a shekel?
30:13 – Twenty.
- What was the minimum age of military service in the Jewish army?
30:14 – Twenty.
- What were the three different types of terumah donated?
30:15 – For the adanim (sockets), for the purchase of communal sacrifices, and for the building of the Mishkan.
- The Jews were counted after Yom Kippur and again after Pesach. Both times they numbered the same amount. How can this be? Didn't some 19-year olds turn 20 during that six month period?
30:16 – Their ages were calculated based on Rosh Hashana, not based on their individual birthdays.
- How many ingredients comprise the incense of the Mishkan?
30:34 – Eleven ingredients were used making the incense.
- According to Rashi, why are sailors called "malachim?"
30:35 – Because they stir (malach) the water with their oars.
- What is the difference between chochma (wisdom), bina (understanding), and da'at (knowledge)?
31:3 – Chochma is knowledge acquired from others. Bina is the deduction of new knowledge from what one has already learned. Da'at is holy inspiration.
- Shabbat is a "sign." What does it signify?
31:13 – It is a sign between G-d and the Jewish People that He has chosen them and a sign to the nations of the world that He has sanctified the Jewish People.
- When did the Jewish People begin to give contributions for the building of the Mishkan?
31:18 – The 11th of Tishrei.
- How many books are there in Tanach?
31:18 – 24.
- From where did the men take the earrings that they donated to make the calf?
32:2,3 – From their ears.
- Why did Aharon build the altar for the golden calf by himself?
32:5 – He hoped that by building it by himself it would take longer and in the interim Moshe would return.
- Why did Moshe break the Tablets?
32:19 – Moshe reasoned: If the Torah forbids those who have estranged themselves from the Torah to partake in even a single commandment (Pesach sacrifice), surely the entire Torah cannot be given to a whole nation which has estranged itself from G-d!
- How can two brothers belong to two different tribes?
32:27 – Half-brothers, sharing the same mother.
- Why did Moshe ask that his name be erased from the Torah?
32:32 – So people shouldn't say "Moshe was unworthy to plead for mercy on behalf of the Jewish people."
- How has the sin of the golden calf affected the Jewish People throughout history?
32:34 – Whenever G-d punishes the Jewish People, part of that punishment comes as payment for the sin of the golden calf.
- In verse 33:2, G-d says that the inhabitants of Eretz Canaan would be driven out of the Land. In that verse, only six of the seven Canaanite nations are mentioned. What happened to the seventh?
33:2 – The seventh nation, the Girgashites, voluntarily emigrated.
- How did G-d show that He forgave the Jewish People?
33:14 – He agreed to let His Shechina dwell among them.
- How did Moshe become wealthy?
34:1 – Moshe carved the Tablets out of precious stone. G-d commanded Moshe to keep the leftover fragments.
- How do the light rays shining from Moshe's face show us the powerful effect of sin?
34:35 – Before the sin of the golden calf, the people would not have been afraid to look at the light rays, but after the sin they were afraid.
זהירות בעניני חמץ
אנו עומדים סמוך לימי
הפסח הבאים עלינו לטובה, ולכן נתחיל לבאר הלכות פסח, על פי מה שכתבנו בזה בשנים
קודמות, ובתוספת נוסף.
איסור אכילת והנאה מן החמץ
נאמר בתורה (שמות יג) לענין ימי חג
הפסח "מצות יאכל את שבעת הימים, ולא יראה לך חמץ ולא יראה לך שאור בכל גבולך".
ובגמרא במסכת פסחים (דף כא: ועוד), למדו רבותינו
ממדרש הפסוקים, שהחמץ בפסח אסור באכילה,
וכמו כן הוא אסור בהנאה, שאפילו אם
הוא אינו אוכל מן החמץ בפסח, אסור לו למכור את החמץ לגוי וכיוצא בזה, מפני שהוא
נהנה במכירה זו. וכל האוכל חמץ בפסח ענשו כרת.
חמץ בפסח – אפילו באלף אינו בטל
כל כך חמור איסור חמץ בפסח, עד כדי
כך, שחמץ שנתערב עם מאכלים אחרים, אפילו באלף לא בטל, מה שאין כן בשאר איסורים.
ולדוגמא באיסור אכילת דם, שאם נפל גרם אחד של דם
לקדירה עם תבשיל, אם יש בתבשיל ששים גרם של היתר כנגד הדם, הרי הדם בטל בתוכו
("בטל בששים"), והתבשיל מותר. ואילו חמץ בפסח אם יש אלף כנגדו, כגון
פירור לחם בתוך סיר גדול עם התבשיל, הכל אסור באכילה מפני אותו פירור של חמץ
לכן יש להזהר מאד בעניני חמץ בפסח, לקנות אך ורק
מצרכי מזון שאין בהם כל חשש תערובת חמץ,
ושנמצאו תחת השגחה אחראית. וכן אין
לסמוך על אדם שאינו יהודי שומר תורה ומצוות, כשאומר על מאכל מסוים שאין בו חשש
חמץ, וכגון שמעיד על תבלין מסוים שאין בו שום תערובת וכדומה, וכפי שכבר הוכח בעבר,
שאנשים נכשלו באיסור חמץ משום שסמכו על החנווני בשעה שאין לו כל נאמנות. וכתב מרן
רבינו עובדיה יוסף זצ"ל, שנכון שלא לקנות שום תוצרת המיועדת לפסח בלי הכשר על
כל מוצר לחג הפסח, וכן הדין אף בדברים שנראה שאין בהם חשש, כגון ליקר, אראק, וכדומה. ובזמנינו אפילו במוצרים הנראים הכי
"תמימים", יש חששות רציניים מבחינת כשרות במשך כל ימות השנה, ובפרט
בימות הפסח, כי בכל מוצר מעורבים הרבה מאד חומרים מחומרים שונים, והדברים ידועים.
כלים הבלועים מחמץ
אסור להשתמש בפסח בכלים שמשתמשים
בהם בכל ימות השנה, שהרי הם בלועים מחמץ, מכיון שבזמן
שתבשיל חם נמצא בתוך הכלי, הרי דפנות הכלי בולעות ממנו טעם חמץ, (כשם שהן בולעות
טעם בשר או חלב), ולכן יש להשתמש בכלים מיוחדים לפסח, שלא השתמשו בהם
למאכלי חמץ, או להכשיר את כלי החמץ לפסח. ובהלכה הבאות יבואר יותר.
מקום שאדם מתארח בו
כשם שאדם צריך להזהר בתוך ביתו
לאכול אך ורק ממוצרים ומכלים הכשרים לפסח, כמו כן עליו
להזהר בכל מקום שהוא אוכל שם, שיהיה כשר בתכלית. ולכן מי שהולך להתארח אצל חבירו
בחג הפסח, או שהוא מתארח בבית מלון, עליו לכלכל דרכיו במשפט, שלא יבא לידי מבוכה
שתגרום לו לאכול במקום שאינו ראוי לו, ויזהר מראש שלא להיות מוזמן למקום שאינו כשר
בתכלית, כדי שלא יבא ח"ו לידי מכשול.
ומעשה היה ביהודי אחד, יקר יקרים, מעולי
הונגריה, שעלה לארץ ישראל לפני כששים שנה בערב פסח. בנו הנשוי, היה דר באחד
הישובים הדתיים, והוא הזמין את אביו לחג הפסח. שאל אותו אביו, האם עוד הנך מקפיד
כראוי על כל הלכות הפסח? השיב לו הבן, בודאי! נסעו האב עם רעייתו ושאר ילדיו
הרווקים אל הבן הנשוי. כבר בליל החג, ראה האב כי הלכות הפסח אינן מקויימות כראוי.
לכן, חדל לאכול שום דבר,
מלבד מעט ירקות. ומיד במוצאי החג
הראשון, אמר לאשתו ומשפחתו, אין אני נשאר כאן אפילו רגע אחד. אמרו לו, והלא אין
תחבורה בשעה כזו! אמר להם אני איני נשאר אפילו רגע אחד, והלך ברגל שלוש שעות, עד
שהגיע לתחנת אוטובוס, וחזר לירושלים בצער גדול, כי בנו אינו זהיר כראוי בהלכות
החג. וממנו למדו כל המשפחה, ותיקנו מעשיהם.
Regarding Chametz Issues
vast, we will begin to review the primary laws of this holiday based on what we
have written in previous years in addition to some new insights.
eaten for seven days; neither leaven nor sourdough shall be seen in your
Our Sages taught in Masechet Pesachim (21b among other
places) through expounding certain verses that not only is Chametz prohibited
for consumption on Pesach, it is also forbidden to benefit from Chametz on
Pesach, meaning that even if one does not actually eat Chametz on Pesach, he
still may not sell it to a non-Jew and the like on Pesach for this would mean
that he is benefitting from this sale. Consumption of Chametz on Pesach is
punishable by Karet (severance of one’s soul from the Jewish nation).
One to One-Thousand
into other foods, it cannot be nullified even by a ratio of one to one
thousand, which is not the case regarding other prohibitions.
For instance, regarding the prohibition of consuming
blood, if one gram of blood falls into a pot of food, if there are sixty grams
of food present against the one gram of blood that fell into it, the blood is
considered nullified and this food is permitted for consumption. Regarding
Chametz on Pesach, however, even if the food present is one thousand times the
amount of the Chametz that fell into it, for instance if a tiny crumb of
Chametz falls into a large pot of food, the entire pot of food becomes
prohibited for consumption because of the crumb of Chametz that became mixed
Therefore, one must be extremely careful regarding
Chametz on Pesach to buy only food products that one is completely certain do
not contain Chametz mixtures and are certified by a reliable Kashrut
organization. Similarly, one should not rely on a non-Torah-observant Jew when
he tells him that a certain food does not contain any Chametz, for instance if
he says that a certain spice does not have any Chametz mixed into it, for it
has already occurred that some people have transgressed the prohibition of
Chametz because they had relied on a grocer with no believability. Maran Harav
Ovadia Yosef Shlit”a writes that it is proper for one not to purchase any food
product designated for Pesach use without a reliable Kosher for Passover
certification on every single item. The same applies even to things that do not
seem problematic such as liquor, Arack, and the like. Nowadays, even products
that look “innocent” pose major Kashrut problems during the rest of the year
and especially during Pesach, as all products contain a multitude of ingredients,
as we all know.
Pesach, for these dishes have Chametz absorbed in them since when a hot food is
inside these dishes, the walls of these dishes absorb its Chametz flavor, just
as they absorb dairy or meat flavor. Thus, one must either use dishes that are
specially designated for Pesach that have not been used for Chametz or kosher
(make kosher for Pesach) his Chametz dishes. This will be better explained in
dishes and utensils that are Kosher for Pesach in his home, one must also take
care that anywhere else he eats is absolutely kosher. Thus, if one is staying
as a guest in his friend’s home or in a hotel for Pesach, he must think this
through beforehand in a tedious manner so that a tumultuous situation does not
arise that will cause him to eat in an unworthy place. One should be very
careful in advance not to be invited to a place that is not absolutely kosher
so as not to, G-d forbid, transgress any prohibitions.
An incident once occurred approximately sixty years ago
when a righteous Hungarian Jew immigrated to Israel on Erev Pesach. His married
son lived in a religious settlement and invited his father to join them for the
Pesach holiday. His father asked him, “Are you careful regarding the laws of
Pesach?” The son replied, “Certainly!” The father travelled with his wife and
unmarried children to spend the holiday together with his married son. On the
first night of Pesach, the father was already able to tell that the laws of
Pesach were not being observed adequately. He therefore did not eat anything
besides for some vegetables. Immediately upon the conclusion of the first Yom
Tov of Pesach, the father exclaimed to his wife, “I refuse to stay here for
even one extra second!” They told him, “But there is no public transportation
at this hour!” The father once again reiterated, “I shall not stay here for
even one moment.” He then proceeded to walk for three hours to the nearest bus
stop at which point he boarded a bus to Jerusalem, saddened that his son did
not observe the laws of Pesach properly. The rest of the family learned from their
father’s actions and mended their ways.
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