The Torah portion of Chukas begins with the laws of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, whose ashes were used to ritually purify a person who had come in contact with a dead body.1

The Rambam states in Yad HaChazakah, Laws of Parah Adumah2: “Nine Paros Adumos were made from the time it was first commanded until the destruction of the Second Beis HaMikdashMoshe made the first; Ezra the second; and seven more from the time of Ezra until the destruction of the Temple. The tenth will be made by Mashiach. May he be speedily revealed, Amen. May He so will it.”

Yad HaChazakah is a book of laws, not a history book. What difference does it make from the perspective of Jewish law how many Paros Adumos were offered in previous generations? Moreover, why does the Rambam go on to add a prayer for the coming of Mashiach?

We must say that, by doing so, the Rambam is hinting at a matter of law, for it is customary for him to allude to matters of law through the exactitude of his terminology, and by prefacing one law with another.

Not Just to Believe – A Fervent Longing

With regard to the obligation to believe in the coming of Mashiach, the Rambam states:3 “Whoever does not believe in him, or does not await his coming, denies not only [the statements of] the other prophets, but also [those of] the Torah and of Moshe, our teacher.” In other words, mere belief in Mashiach’s coming does not suffice, we are also obligated to hope for and await his arrival.

Moreover, this anticipation is to be in accordance with our thrice-daily recitation of the Amidah prayers: “Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish… for we hope for Your salvation all day.”

This longing for the coming of Mashiach arises from the Jews’ feeling that, as long as Mashiach has not arrived, they are incomplete.

In light of the above, it is clear that when an individual who eagerly awaits Mashiach mentions something in conjunction with him, then even if there is only a peripheral connection, his longing will be roused. Thus, it becomes a personal need for which one is obligated to pray.4 Consequently, the Jew prays that he witness Mashiach’s arrival as speedily as possible.

By inserting the prayer “May he be speedily revealed, Amen. May He so will it,” and moreover, by doing so at the earliest appropriate opportunity, the Rambam emphasizes how intense should be the “anticipation of his arrival”; as soon as an opportunity presents itself, even if the connection is only casual, a Jew should be aroused to pray “May he be speedily revealed, Amen. May He so will it.”

A Purification From Spiritual Death

Since all aspects of Torah are precise, it follows that there is a conceptual relationship between the laws of the Parah Adumah and the coming of Mashiach. This is why the Rambam mentions the awaiting of Mashiach’s arrival in the laws of Parah Adumah, although the Mashiach is mentioned in Yad HaChazakah before the laws of the Parah Adumah.

The relationship between the laws of the Parah Adumah and the coming of Mashiach is as follows: Exile is related to the concept of ritual defilement — coming in contact with spiritual death. For the exile came about through iniquities — the element of “You who cleave unto G‑d your L-rd are all alive today”5 was lacking.

The ashes of the Parah Adumah , offering purification from the defilement of death, allude to the time of Mashiach’s coming, the time of redemption from exile, when Jews sunder their bonds with spiritual death, for they then all cleave to G‑d and are thus vitally alive.

May Mashiach come and redeem us speedily in our days. In the words of the Rambam: “May he be speedily revealed, Amen. May He so will it.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 131-137