1. This Shabbos is the Shabbos after Purim. There are other aspects of this Shabbos which are seemingly not associated with Purim, such as the Torah portion Tzav and the special Maftir reading of Parah which is connected to the holiday of Pesach. [In order to eat the Pesach sacrifice you had to be tahor.] Nevertheless, we will give preference to the Purim connection for two reasons:

(A) The theme of Purim has a Chazakah on this Shabbos, for “A presumption (Chazakah) is established when it occurs three times” (B. Metzia 106b) and this week we had the Fast of Esther, Purim and Shushan Purim — three days which created a Chazakah for Purim on this Shabbos.

(B) “That which is regular (frequent) has precedence over that which is infrequent.” (Berachos 51b) The Shabbos that follows Purim always carries some aspects of Purim, but does not always coincide with the portion of Tzav and Parah. Therefore today the theme of Purim is “regular” and must be given precedence.

All the days of the week have a connection with Shabbos. We see that in the “Song of the Day” in our daily prayer we count the days of the week in relation to Shabbos: “Today is the first day of the Shabbos (week)....”

The Rambam elaborates on this is his commentary on the commandment: “Remember the day of Shabbos.” Remembrance is necessary not on the day itself but on preceding days. Therefore we name the days of the week in the sequence of first, second, third — to Shabbos. This way we constantly remember Shabbos.

Similarly, many aspects of Shabbos must be prepared in advance during the weekdays e.g. the food, clean clothing etc. So the Shabbos is exalted because we make careful preparations for it. And during the days of the week we are involved in activities geared for Shabbos — the work is done on the weekday and we enjoy the fruits of our labors on Shabbos. In that way the endeavors of the days of the week reach their culmination and perfection on Shabbos.

When special days occur during the week, they too, reach a loftier level of perfection on Shabbos.

Purim has the quality of Ad d’lo yoda — beyond knowing, likewise it attains the state that Yom Kippur is compared to it! (see Tikkunei Zohar 21) Yet, when Purim led into Shabbos it reached a loftier degree of perfection. At the same time it caused Shabbos to rise to a higher state for it followed the preparations of the week which included the lofty days of Purim.

When this Shabbos arrives it teaches us an important lesson, that despite the loftiness of Purim during the past week — beyond knowledge and intellect — you can still attain new heights in the perfection of Shabbos even beyond “Ad D’lo Yoda.”

Being that this year is a leap year, the special qualities of the year will be expressed more emphatically during the holiday of Purim which falls in Adar II, the leap month, which makes the whole year “complete.”

Purim this year occurred on Tuesday which has the double blessing of “it was good,” so that all aspects of holiness on that day are doubly blessed. Thus, this Purim carries the qualities of the leap year and the additional quality of the double blessing that comes on the third day of the week. The Shabbos which follows such a ‘charged’ Purim will certainly also possess special commensurate qualities to bestow the blessing of completion to the preceding days of the week.

The practical lesson: Purim recalls that the Jews reaffirmed their faith in G‑d and in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos. Which is what we are called upon to do today.

These days should be remembered and celebrated (lit. come into being). (Esther 9:28)

We must therefore increase all areas of Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvos in a manner of affirmation and fulfillment beyond all past accomplishments. And after Purim we must once again rise to the loftier level attained on Shabbos. This should also encompass our fellow Jews, especially in the area of preparation for Pesach, through study and donations to Maos Chittim — charities geared for holiday needs for all.

There should also be greater efforts in spreading Torah and Chassidus, as the Previous Rebbe proclaimed when he arrived in the United States that “America is not different.” Over the years of increased teaching and education in Judaism in this country this is certainly true today.

This post-Purim outreach likewise includes reaching out to non-Jews which has a special significance on Purim when the Megillah tells us:

And many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. (Esther 8:17)

We might see this phenomenon in two parts, on the one hand, many people, who had some connection with Judaism openly converted, while others who did not, still felt the fear of the Jews upon them. This second category is possibly more astonishing than the first, for despite the fact that they had no affinity for Judaism and Jews, they were paralyzed with the fear of the Jews. This could come about because of the increase of Torah light in the world, which came about as a result of the state of redemption; the shades covering the world were removed and the true essence was revealed: the power of G‑dliness! Nowadays, this increase in light will speed the true redemption through our righteous Mashiach, who will bring the complete perfection to the world:

For then I will convert the peoples to a purer language, that they may all call upon the name of the L‑rd — to serve Him with one consent. (Tzephaniah 3:9)


Kingship will be the L‑rd’s. (Ovadiah 1:21)

The approach to this soul redemption must be with a liberated spirit, unencumbered by any of the restrictions of the galus and the yetzer hora; internal or external. It precedes and anticipates the eradication of the chametz but it follows the eradication of Amalek, after Shabbos Zachor. Amalek consists of several facets:

1) It represents haughtiness and pride, which are the source of all types of evil.

2) “Amalek” has the gematria (numerical equivalent) of “safek” which means doubt — the antithesis of holiness, which is the epitome of certitude.

3) The description of Amalek’s attack “Asher korcha...” has been explained to mean, “who cooled you off.” The argument of Amalek is: “What’s the big deal — why all the enthusiasm?” — “You can do the same good acts in a cool, collected and organized manner.” Having wiped out the remembrance of Amalek on Shabbos Zachor — these arguments will no longer apply.

It is this free approach which we also find in the Divine service of Shabbos which has the quality of all work having been done; reaching the state of “delight” — real freedom. All this is more obvious in a leap year, when we bring one redemption close to the other and celebrate Purim during Adar II, the month which is closer to the redemption of Pesach — and that enhances the blessing, that it should bring the ultimate true redemption of Mashiach close to Purim. We want only for G‑d to match our action and bring the ultimate redemption closer to the redemption of Purim.

Both Purim and Pesach included an aspect of redemption while still in exile. Purim — “they remained subjects of Achashverosh.” Pesach: At the time of the Egyptian bondage the Jews enjoyed the special “light” which shone for them in their own homes, as well as inside the darkened homes of the Egyptians, where this pre-redemption light illuminated the unnatural miracle of darkness, while they were still in the galus. May we, too, experience this preview of deliverance — through our increase in Torah and mitzvos with joy and true gladness of heart.

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2. Today we read the section of Parah. On the subject of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) we find a discussion in the Midrash:

In connection with all the various laws (of tumah) which the Holy One, Blessed be He, communicated to Moshe, He told him both the mode of defilement (tumah) and of purification (taharah). When He reached the section, “speak to the Kohanim” (Vayikra 21:1) (which dealt with tumah contracted from a corpse), Moshe said to Him: “Sovereign of the Universe! if a Kohen becomes tameh what shall be his mode of teshuvah?” He did not answer him. At that moment the face of Moshe turned red. On reaching the section dealing with the Red Heifer the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to him: “On that occasion which I told you ‘speak unto the Kohanim’ and you asked Me, ‘If a Kohen is become tameh what shall be his mode of taharah?’ I did not answer you. This is his mode of taharah: ‘And for the tameh they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the purification from sin.’“ (Bamidbar 19:17) (Bamidbar Rabbah 19:4)

This Midrash leaves us with several problems: A) There are categories of tumah whose rules are more severe than the category of one who came in contact with a corpse, e.g. the case of Zav and Metzora (one who became tameh because of an involuntary flow or because of a plague-spot).

One who has become tameh by touching a corpse may not enter the Beis HaMikdash but he may enter the Temple Mount. The Zav, however, is not permitted into the Temple Mount! The Metzora is restricted even more severely, for he must be ostracized from the entire city of Yerushalayim!

In the case of purification, one who is tameh because of a corpse may immerse in the waters of any mikveh (ritualarium) to become tahor while the Zav will only rise out of his tumah if he immerses in the waters of a living spring.

If so, why was Moshe perturbed only by the case of tumah connected with death and not in all the other categories of tumah?

B) Why did G‑d reveal to Moshe each type of tumah and its mode of taharah except for the tumah associated with death — so much so, that even when Moshe asked, he was not given the answer forthwith.

C) The description used to relate Moshe’s disappointment is very strong. Instead of saying that he was upset, the Midrash says His face became red. This is very unusual, for normally “a man’s wisdom makes his face to shine” (Koheles 8:1), and here he paled!

Chassidic philosophy finds a serious descent for Moshe in this description. “Redness” is associated with Eisav — the antithesis of Moshe, who was the embodiment of all that is holy. This “redness of face” would indicate a serious descent in Moshe’s stature. Why would the question of the taharah of this tameh person be associated with the paling of Moshe’s face?

D) Why must we be told an uncomplimentary incident about Moshe?!

Let us preface the answer to these questions with a general observation.

Generally speaking, all aspects of Torah and mitzvos are pertinent for all Jews. Yet, there are exceptions to this rule and there could be some cases where certain aspects of Torah will not be relevant to certain groups of people. In the case of Purim we know that all the subjects of the 127 lands of Achashverosh’s domain were required to observe the holiday of Purim, for they were all involved in the miracle.

What about the Jews who lived outside the hegemony of Achashverosh? Since they were not subject to Haman’s decree should they still be required to observe the holiday!?

Yet we find in Pirkei D’Rebbe Elazar that at Matan Torah, when the Jews stood at Mount Sinai they accepted all of Torah and mitzvos, including all later rabbinic ordinances such as Purim. Since all later souls of all generations were present then, the obligation should fall on all Jews without exception. In recent times this discussion has been applied halachically to a tribe of Jews who were able to trace their ancestry back to the destruction of the First Temple and did not live in a land under Persian Dominion and they did not have the history of the story of Purim. The ruling was that those who were not included in the miracle must still observe the holiday because they are part of the Jewish people, but not to the same extent as those who were in the miracle!

Chassidus also speaks of tzaddikim whose level of Divine service is basically involved in spiritual spheres and whose observance of actual mitzvos is of secondary importance to their spiritual observance. Vis-à-vis other tzaddikim, who, like everyone else, must first do the actualdeed and then be concerned with esoteric intention.

Now let us turn to the Parah Adumah. The mitzvah of Pa-rah Adumah (the Red Heifer) was necessary only after death came into the world. This came about as a result of Adam’s sin. As Rashi describes it:

..Through you, death was decreed as a punishment. (Rashi, Bereishis 4:25)

When there is death there can be tumah associated with death, for which it will be necessary to find a mode of taharah, through the Red Heifer. Without death — no need for the Parah.

In discussing death, our sages tell us that there are some righteous people who must die only because of the “decree” of death — and not because they deserve it! Moshe was even above this level, for, being the essence of wisdom, he had the quality of “Wisdom gives life” (Koheles 7:12).

Thus, when Moshe encountered the concept of tumah connected to death he asked what the whole subject was all about. He was not comparing it to other forms of tumah, rather he was viewing it from his own vantage point in which death had no place, so he said, “How can one find taharah?”

Why did G‑d wait to answer Moshe’s dilemma until they reached the mitzvah of Parah Adumah!?

All aspects of Torah were revealed and given to the Jewish people through Moshe. For Moshe to teach the mitzvah of Parah Adumah he had to have some connection with it.

It would be appropriate to present an analogy for this concept by telling the well-known story about the Mitteler Rebbe:

The Mitteler Rebbe would arrange for his Chassidim to see him in private audience (Yechidus) during his travels outside of Lubavitch. Once during such a stopover a great crowd of Chassidim had gathered to greet him and he was accepting each person individually for Yechidus. Suddenly, in the middle of the day, while hundreds of Chassidim were literally pressing to be allowed into Yechidus he ordered that his door be closed and he stopped seeing the visitors. An hour or two passed and a few of the elder Chassidim walked into the building and approached the outside of the door. They heard the Mitteler Rebbe reciting Tehillim with an outpouring of his soul, tearfully, and from the depths of his holy soul. He then prayed Minchah in the manner it is prayed during the Ten Days of Repentance.... Afterwards he went out to the assembled crowd and delivered a long Chassidic discourse on the verse “The walls of the daughter of Tziyun, your tears flow like a river.” And he did not accept any more private audiences until the next day.

Several days went by and one of the (respected) elder Chassidim asked the Mitteler Rebbe the reason for the strange conduct on that day. For a moment the Mitteler Rebbe became very sad and then he responded: “When Chassidim face me in a Yechidus they reveal the inner wounds of their hearts. Each person in his own way. When I hear them relate their problems, I must find a common subject in myself — of course not necessarily on the same level but in a more refined state — but it must be there in my soul. I cannot answer the request or advise some correction and way of true return or remedy for the individual until I do not first remedy it in myself. Then I can give advice and suggest a remedy. On that day — the Rebbe continued — one person came in to see me and I was so shocked by what he said that I was unable to find anything vaguely similar in myself, not even a shadow of a shadow of the subject, not even in the slightest and most abstract form. I suddenly thought that perhaps, G‑d forbid, there was some hidden evil in me which is buried very deep down in my subconscious. This thought shook me to the depths of the essence of my soul and I decided to repent and return to G‑d with the innermost and deepest concentration of my heart!” (Letters of Previous Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 379)

When Moshe had to give us the “correction” for the problem of tumah connected with death, he had to have some connection with the subject, if only in a very abstract way. But in Moshe’s world death did not exist, how could he find the connection, in fact, he wondered — what mode of purification could there be!? So G‑d waited and did not answer Moshe until the Torah reached the portion — “This is the statute of the Torah — A Chukah (statute) comes from the level which is above the intellect of Torah.

It is only from the Supernal level of statutes, above intellect, that the taharah for death-related tumah can come — to take the ashes of the Red Heifer — and process it in the prescribed way.

But, the only way that the solution could be presented was by the troubled approach of Moshe. He was shocked because he could not conceive of the tumah of death, and that he could not find a logical way to bring purity. Then he paled and became disturbed — for he saw that there were Jews who could not enter the Beis HaMikdash. This bothered Moshe terribly and it affected his inner essence — to the point that G‑d saw his hurt feelings as an entreaty — and the chapter of Parah Adumah was then revealed.

Here we see Moshe’s extreme feelings of Ahavas Yisrael. Hearing that another Jew had become tameh in an area which he could not even relate to, he, nevertheless, was so hurt, to the depths of his essence, that he paled and sought some explanation. This point comes into sharper focus when we remember that one who is tameh is permitted to perform all the other mitzvos of the Torah e.g. Torah study, etc. Still Moshe was obsessed by the problem that they may not enter the Beis HaMikdash!

There is a parallel in this case to Mordechai who knew that the decree of the king would not affect him personally yet he felt as if he had been singled out to be the target of Haman’s devilish scheme.

This episode teaches an important lesson:

When you meet a Jew about whom the question may be asked: What mode of taharah will make the person tahor? This query must touch your essence! You have to feel that you are the subject of this quest. And if you meet this person, then in fact it does affect you! Now you must do whatever you can to effect the purification of taharah till the light of purity and perfection shines through so that he may enter the Beis HaMikdash.

You do not need any new systems to effect the taharah, for when Moshe’s face paled he effected the “awakening from below” for all time to come, to engender the new power needed, and it has stretched across the generations to this time when we read this portion again.

May G‑d grant that everyone will take this teaching in relation to self and others — for:

He who causes others to do good is greater than the doer. (B. Basra 9a)

And may our activities in all these good matters give us the merit to receive the purification of the Red Heifer — at the hands of our righteous Mashiach as the prophet says:

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be tahor (Yechezkel 36:25). I, the L‑rd have spoken it and I will do it. (Ibid. 36)

The true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, in actuality and reality, truly in our time.

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3. In the study of Chumash and Rashi the suggestion has been made that questions on the upcoming week’s portion should be presented prior to the Shabbos; this week we will deal with such questions which were presented:

On the verse:

This is because I have taken the chest as a wave offering and the hind leg as an elevated gift from the Israelites.... (Vayikra 7:34)

Rashi cites the words “hatenufah, haterumah” and he explains:

The wave offering, the elevated gift: This implies that the Kohen moved them to and fro (tenufah) in a horizontal direction and moved them up and down (terumah). (Rashi, loc. cit.)


“Wave” offering and “elevated” gift mean to and fro, and up and down, but Rashi has already explained this, back in the portion of Tetzaveh (Shmos 29:24-27), as well as in our portion, Tzav, and again in Shemini. Why should Rashi feel it necessary to explain this practice so many times?

In Shemini when Rashi again explains what terumah and tenufah mean he continues:

Why does Scripture designate “elevated gift” in the case of the leg, and “wave offering” in the case of the chest? We do not know! for in actuality they were both lifted to and fro, and up and down. (Rashi, loc. cit. according to some editions)

The same question should have perturbed Rashi in Tetzaveh. Why does Rashi wait until Shemini to remark on it?

In approaching an explanation of Rashi we should preface that the two terms tenufah (to and fro) and terumah (up and down) are really mutually inclusive; each means all four directions! It is only when both terms are used together that we differentiate between the horizontal and the vertical waving.

We find examples of this dual word usage in many cases:

A) The word “eretz” — earth — sometimes means the planet Earth and sometimes it means the entire created universe. When the phrase “heaven and earth” is used, the word “Earth” obviously means only the terrestrial sphere and not the celestial bodies. On the other hand in the verse “the whole world (haaretz) is full of His glory” the concept here is to include all creation.

B) In Emor we find the terms “garav” and “yalefes” (severe eczema and ringworm — or “itch and tetter”). Rashi explains that when “garav” is used near the “chores” (itch) then chores means a dry boil and garav means a moist boil (eczema). But, when the word garav appears alone or with yalefes it means both dry and/or moist.

C) When the name “Tohoros” appears in a list of the orders of the Mishnah then it means the entire order Tohoros including the Tractate Tohoros. When, however, the context shows that it is referring to a single tractate then it is the name of the individual tractate of Tohoros and does not include the other tractates of that order, Mikvaos, Uktzin etc.

D) The name “kochav” means a “star” or heavenly body. It might refer to the sun, moon, or any other “star” or planet. Sometimes the word “kochav” is used as the name of the planet Mercury. So when you find it among the others planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn you will know from the context that it refers to the planet Mercury.

This same rule will also apply in the case of tenufah and terumah.

When the two terms appear side by side, then we must differentiate between them, and tenufah will mean to and fro and terumah will mean up and down. But when either word is used by itself it would include all four directions of waving.

Now, why does Rashi repeat this explanation in several places and why do we find discrepancies?

In the original question several points were also raised regarding the different versions of these Rashis under discussion. For example, in many versions of the Rashi in Shemini the entire segment does not appear. In other editions the words “we do not know” is replaced by the phrase: “to let us know”! Naturally, the explanation of the problem will depend on a clarification of the opposing editions and versions. Therefore it will first be necessary to verify the correct editions and versions of Rashi based on manuscripts and early printed editions — and then the answer may be presented.

We may, however, take a lesson from this discussion in the aspect of “Wine of Torah.” The purpose of all sacrifices in the Temple was to “be accepted as an atonement for him” and “that he may be acceptable before G‑d, as beloved of Him as before the sin, that the Creator may derive delight from his service” (Iggeres Hakodesh ch. 2).

In this respect we may see the waving to and fro and up and down as relating to the individual’s Divine service and to his relation to others. One must serve G‑d to the point that G‑d will derive delight from his service, whether he is in a lofty plane or when he is in a depressed state — and he must always reach out to influence others.

We learn this from Rashi and it must be applicable also to the five-year-old Chumash student. This means that we must gear our basic education to our children to teach the importance of being acceptable to G‑d and to fellow man. Teaching the children will also improve the teachers and parents. And most important of all:

Out of the mouths of children and sucklings You have thus fashioned an invincible might...to put an end at last to foe and avenger. (Tehillim 8:3)

All forms of foe and avenger will be eliminated and the promise will be fulfilled:

And I will cause the spirit of tumah to pass out of the land, (Zechariah 13:2)

with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach speedily and truly in our days.

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4. In the last chapter of today’s Rambam section we find the first halachah:

There are five requisites, the absence of which hinder the proper recital of a service (prayer), even when its due time has arrived; — cleansing the hands, covering the body, assurance as to the cleanliness of the place where the prayers are recited, removal of distractions, and concentrations of the mind. (Laws of Prayer 4:1)

It would appear from this halachah that concentration of mind is necessary to validate the entire prayer. Which is not what the Rambam writes in chapter 10:

If one has recited the Amidah without devotion, he should recite it again devoutly. If he, however, concentrated his attention during the recital of the first blessing, he need not read the prayer again. (Ibid 10:1)

In this latter Halachah it is made quite clear that only the first blessing of the Amidah needs proper concentration.

The explanation is that there are two categories of concentration during prayer: (A) The general approach to prayer, and (B) the specific concentration on the meaning of a particular prayer. This distinction will also express itself in the rules of kavanah (concentration).

We may draw an analogy from the subject of acknowledging the awe of heaven. All mitzvos must be prefaced by the awe of heaven as we say in the blessing; “Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us.” We recognize that there must be the overall acceptance of the “yoke” of Heaven. In the particular mitzvah of the Shema we find a mitzvah which deals specifically with accepting the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and of the mitzvos, certainly there is a much more concentrated and focused devotion to the yoke of Heaven in the Shema than in any other mitzvah.

Similarly, in the mitzvah of knowing G‑d, we must know G‑d before we do any mitzvah, for you can only fulfill G‑d’s commandments if you know G‑d. Nevertheless, there is a special mitzvah where the whole category of knowing G‑d becomes the essence of the mitzvah. So, the knowledge of G‑d during the observance of all other mitzvos is not so crucial, so long as the general concept of G‑d “being there” is remembered. While in the observance of the mitzvah of knowing G‑d one must study and know all the intricate details.

Now back to kavanah — concentration.

When the Rambam speaks of concentration as a prerequisite to prayer he is referring to the realization of the general concept of “know before Whom you stand.”

The concentration and devotion to the specific meaning of each and every prayer and blessing, which the Rambam speaks about in chapter 10, is only necessary during the first blessing of the Amidah.

Thus, in chapter five, when he mentions the five items necessary before one may pray he lists concentration just as he lists cleanliness, and it is this type of concentration which he defines immediately:

What is to be understood by concentration of the mind?

The mind should be freed from all extraneous thoughts and the one who prays should realize that he is standing before the Divine Presence. (Ibid. 4:16)

This type of broad intention must be present throughout the entire prayer.

Later, when the Rambam speaks of the intention needed only during the first blessing he speaks of the specific devotion encompassing the meaning of a particular prayer and therefore it will not disqualify the later blessings by its absence.

[Note: The Rebbe also urged that the lectures and discourses delivered during the various Rambam Siyum celebrations should be transcribed and published in appropriate volumes, in time for the Rambam’s birthday on the eve of Pesach 5746.]