1. Today is Shabbos parshas Parah. It is also the Shabbos which follows Purim, and which therefore completes and elevates all of Purim’s matters. The connection between Purim and the Shabbos which follows it is particularly emphasized this year when Purim is on Sunday, the first day of the week, for, consonant to the rule that “the beginning is rooted in the end and the end in the beginning,” there is a special connection between the beginning of the week (Sunday) and its end (Shabbos).

This connection applies to both Purim and Shushan Purim. Although Shushan Purim is on Monday (the 15th of Adar), the Talmud cites the opinion that in Shushan, Purim should be celebrated on both the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar. Although the halachah is not decided in favor of this opinion, nevertheless, an opinion in Torah is also Torah. Thus the idea of Purim on the fourteenth of Adar (Sunday) also applies to Shushan. Indeed, the plain reading of the Megillah bears this out: The miracle that the Jews defeated their enemies occurred “in all the provinces of the king” (Megillas Esther 8:12), including Shushan, on the same day. It was simply that Esther requested an extra day for the Jews in Shushan, as stated (9:13): “Allow the Jews who are in Shushan to act tomorrow as they did today.” Obviously, this extra day does not erase the miracle of the previous day.

Most importantly, the vast majority of Jews celebrate Purim on the fourteenth of Adar (and not Shushan Purim) which, we have noted, is this year on the first day of the week, connecting it to Shabbos, the conclusion of the week.

In addition to today being Shabbos parshas Parah and the Shabbos which follows Purim, it is also the twentieth of Adar; and the weekly parshah read today is parshas Shemini. It is this which differentiates this year from last year, when the Shabbos following Purim and parshas Parah also fell out on the twentieth of Adar: Last year, the weekly parshah of this Shabbos was parshas Sissa; this year it is parshas Shemini.

Finally, this year is a leap year (which is also why the weekly parshah is different); and Purim in a leap year, unlike in a regular year, is called “Purim Gadol” — “the Great Purim.” In a regular year, Purim is special only in regard to the other days of the year, which, being weekdays, do not reach the lofty height of Purim. (This also includes Shabbos and festivals, which, compared to the special loftiness of Purim, are as “weekdays.”) In a leap year, the unique nature of Purim is not only in comparison to weekdays, but also in comparison to the fourteenth (and fifteenth) of Adar Rishon (the first Adar), which is called “Purim Koton” — “the small Purim.” Thus Purim in a leap year is “Purim Gadol,” indicating its incomparably loftier nature even in comparison to “Purim Koton.”

A further distinction accruing to Purim in a leap year is that it emphasizes the idea of “bringing one redemption close to another” — i.e., we read the Megillah in the Adar nearest to Nissan (Adar Sheni) so as to bring close the redemption of Purim to the redemption of Pesach, Although Purim is close to Pesach in a regular year too, nevertheless, since this happens because Nissan follows Purim and there is no other choice, there is no particular emphasis on the closeness of the two redemptions. In a leap year, however, there is an opinion that Purim should be celebrated in the first Adar, not in the Adar close to Nissan. However, this opinion is not followed, and Purim is celebrated specifically in the Adar close to Nissan, thus emphasizing the idea of “bringing one redemption close to another.” The greatness of this is evident from the fact that the purpose of all Torah and mitzvos is the redemption: the redemption of Jews and the redemption of the Shechinah (Divine Presence).

We must derive lessons for service to G‑d from all the above aspects present on this Shabbos, lessons from both those matters unique to this year, and also from those which are present every year — for, as in all matters of Torah and mitzvos, we are obligated to “ascend in holiness.”

The first lesson to be derived stems from parshas Parah. Even a small child knows that the main emphasis and excitement on this Shabbos is not so much regarding parshas Shemini, but concerning parshas Parah. Why? We read the weekly parshah every Shabbos, whereas the four special parshas — Shekalim, Zachor, Parah and Hachodesh — are read at a special time of the year. Special excitement therefore surrounds the reading of these parshas, to the extent that the entire Shabbos is called “Shabbos parshas Parah.”

But this special emphasis on parshas Parah is puzzling to a small child. “Parah” means “cow,” and a cow is a member of the animal kingdom, lower than man, and certainly lower then Jews. Why, then, such excitement about a Shabbos which is called “Shabbos Parah”?

This question does not apply to the other three parshas, whose worth is self-evident. Parshas Zachor is the idea of remembrance; parshas Shekalim, although talking of a shekel which is an inanimate object, has the distinction that when G‑d commanded that half a shekel be given by every Jew, he showed Moshe “a coin of fire” (Rashi, Shemos 3:13); and parshas Hachodesh is the idea of newness. But what can be the distinction of parshas Parah — especially since it is not called “the sacrifice of the Parah,” but just “Parah.”

It becomes even more perplexing when we realize that the “parah” in question had to be a “red cow.” The color red indicates a murderous personality, brute strength and aggressiveness, as exemplified by Esav (Bereishis 25:30): “Let me swallow, please, some of this red, red stuff ... therefore his name was called Edom (red).” Further, the Yalkut Shimoni says that “Parah — this is the Egyptian exile; Adumah — this is the Babylonian kingdom,” connecting the Parah Adumah to the idea of exile. Why then, is such a fuss made about Shabbos Parah, more so than parshas Shemini, when “Shemini,” which means eight, is a very lofty number?

It is precisely because “Parah” descends to such a low level that it is of a very lofty nature. As we pointed out above, “Parah” itself is lower than man; “Parah Adumah” — the “red cow” indicates aggressiveness and a murderous personality; and it also alludes to exile. Moreover, unlike other sacrifices, the service of the Parah Adumah was carried out “outside the camp,” forcing the deputy High Priest, who carried out its service, to leave the camp. Thus the Parah Adumah signifies a descent to a very low level.

But it is specifically through this great descent that the highest of levels is reached. Through the Parah Adumah darkness is transformed into light, to the extent that one who becomes impure from contact with the dead — the most severe form of impurity — is purified through the Parah Adumah.

This leap from the lowest levels to the highest is expressed in the service associated with the Parah Adumah. Although it had to be done “outside the camp,” nevertheless, Torah says (Bamidbar 19:4) that the deputy High Priest “shall sprinkle of its blood towards the front of the Ohel Moed.” Sprinkling, in contrast to placing, stresses the idea of leaping, for when sprinkling, the blood is thrown or “leaps” from one place to the other.

2. In terms of man’s spiritual service, this teaches the following: The descent to “outside the camp” is paralleled by a descent in terms of time — meaning exile. In exile itself, it refers to the time when “darkness covers the earth” — the intense spiritual darkness in the era immediately preceding Moshiach’s coming. The Parah Adumah teaches that this awesome descent into exile brings Jews to the loftiest heights, transforming darkness into light. It is specifically through going “outside the camp” that one reaches the level of being “towards the front of the Ohel Moed.”

Although now, in exile, we do not have the Parah Adumah, its concept nevertheless still applies. At Mattan Torah, every Jew was told that “You shall be for Me a kingdom of priests,” and the Baal HaTurim explains that “a kingdom of priests” means High Priests. Since holiness does not move from its place, it follows that even after Mattan Torah all Jews are High Priests. Even if this level is concealed, a Jew has at least the level of a deputy High Priest. And thus even today Jews, utilizing the level of deputy High Priest in their soul, can carry out the spiritual service of the Parah Adumah. Likewise, those aspects of its service connected with the Bais Hamikdosh (e.g. “He shall sprinkle of its blood towards the front of the Ohel Moed”) can also be carried out, for although the physical Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed, the spiritual Bais Hamikdosh, and certainly the spiritual “front of the Ohel Moed,” exists in perfection also in exile.

This is similar to the service of the sacrifices in general, which exist also in exile — as our sages say, “Prayers were instituted in the place of the sacrifices.” Indeed, the spiritual equivalent of the sacrifices in exile has an advantage over the actual sacrifices in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh. In the latter, only the priests could actually offer the sacrifices; today, every Jew, Levi’im and Israelites as well as priests, carries out the spiritual equivalent of the sacrifices — prayers.

There is an advantage also to the priests’ service in exile as compared to the times of the Bais Hamikdosh. In the latter, the priests needed the aid of the Levi’im and the Israelites to offer the sacrifices — the Levi’im chanting and the Israelites attending. Today, they can carry out the spiritual equivalent of the sacrifices by themselves.

So too in the case of the Parah Adumah. Although only the deputy High Priest could carry out the service of the Parah Adumah in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh, today in exile, every Jew, through the level of deputy High Priest of his soul, can carry out its spiritual equivalent.

In Purim, also, we find the same phenomenon that through a descent into the lowest levels, the loftiest heights are reached. The story of Purim took place in exile, which, we have noted, may be compared to being “outside the camp.” Yet, from this descent Purim reaches the level of being a festival greater than any other, as the Rambam rules: “The days of Purim shall not be abolished [unlike the other festivals], as it is written: ‘These days of Purim shall not pass from the Jews and their remembrance shall not cease from their seed.’“

These two opposite aspects — the lowest and the highest levels — are also present in the Megillah. Although part of the sacred writings, G‑d’s Name is not mentioned even once in the Megillah — indicating it is on a level lower than the other sacred writings. On the other hand, the Rambam rules that “All the books of the Prophets and all the Writings are destined to be abolished in the days of Moshiach, except for Megillas Esther; it will exist, like the five books of the Torah which will never be abolished.”

Indeed, Megillas Esther in this respect is superior even to the five books of Moshe. It is no surprise that the five books of the Torah will never be abolished, for “the word of G‑d” should naturally exist eternally; the wonder is that the Prophets and the Writings will be abolished. Yet, of “all the books of the Prophets and all the Writings,” Megillas Esther will remain, like the “five books of the Torah.” And because its existence is such a novel idea, it is superior to the five books of the Torah.

The lesson from parshas Parah is relevant to all Jews, youth and elders. When a Jew is at the start of service, when his service is on the level of a “youth,” parshas Parah teaches that although he is on a low level of service, it is specifically through this that he reaches the highest levels.

On the other hand, when he reaches perfection in his service, the level of “elders,” when the exile does not affect him — as the Alter Rebbe writes, that in regard to Rashbi the destruction and exile did not exist — Parshas Parah teaches that the service of elevating the lowest levels (exile) is very important, for through it, one reaches the most lofty levels.

This Shabbos provides strength and directives for all the concepts of Purim. For, in addition to the fact that on this Shabbos all the matters of Purim are elevated to the level of delight, this Shabbos itself, parshas Parah, emphasizes the same concepts as Purim (as discussed above). And although Purim has already passed, the theme of Purim is eternal, and therefore all the lessons associated with Purim must be translated into action even afterwards, throughout the year.

Further, the service of Purim itself is not enough, but, consonant to the rule that we “ascend in holiness,” we must increase in service. This is expressed in today’s parshah, Shemini, which talks of the eighth day of the dedication of the Mishkan. Although in the previous seven days the Mishkan was complete and Moshe had already offered sacrifices, it was not sufficient: there needed to be an ascension in holiness — the eighth day of dedication, when the blessing “May the pleasantness of the L‑rd our G‑d be upon us,” was fulfilled.

In a Jew’s personal Mishkan, too, the Jewish home, which, when permeated with the spirit of Torah and mitzvos, is a sanctuary to G‑d, one must also constantly increase in service to G‑d.


3. The goal of everything is actual deed, for “deed is paramount.” It therefore behooves us, in connection with all the above, to mention those things associated with actual deed. First of all, the Purim campaign should be extended throughout the year; and one of the important aspects of Purim is that the Megillah should be read in the presence of as many people as possible, for “the splendor of the king is in a multitude of people.”

This applies to all matters of Torah and mitzvos. Even if there are many Jews who are observant of Judaism, nevertheless, if there is somewhere even one Jew who does not keep Torah and mitzvos properly, a person is obligated to bring him to join the rest of his brethren.

4. We said previously that there is a lesson to be derived from today’s date, the twentieth of Adar. Megillas Ta’anis (and tractate Ta’anis 23a) states: “On the twentieth [of Adar], the people fasted for rain ... When they saw that the greater part of the month of Adar had passed and the rains had not come, they went to Choni HaMagel (the Circle Drawer), and told him to ‘Pray that rain may fall.’ He told them, ‘Go and bring in [to shelter] the Pesach ovens so that they should not rot [for these ovens were in the courtyard, and were made of clay]. He drew a circle, stood inside it ... and said: ‘Master of the universe ... I shall not move from here until You will have mercy upon Your children.’ Rain then began to fall in drops. His disciples said to him ... ‘We believe that these rains are falling merely to release you from your oath’... Thereupon He said, ‘Master of the Universe, it is not for this I have asked, but for rains [to fill] cisterns, ditches and caves.’ Rain then began to fall, every drop as big as the opening of a barrel. His disciples said to him, ‘We believe these rains are falling only to destroy the whole world.’ He said, ‘Master of the Universe, it is not for this I have asked, but for rains of benevolence, blessing and bounty.’ Rain then fell normally. They instituted that day (the twentieth of Adar) as a festival, for the rains fall only in the merit of Israel.”

The first thing to be noted from this episode is that it took place in Adar Sheni, the Adar closest to Nissan. Choni HaMagel told the people to “Go and bring in [to shelter] the Pesach ovens so that they should not rot,” indicating that otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough time to build new Pesach ovens. If this episode had taken place in Adar Rishon, there would have been an extra thirty days in which to build them. And, of course, there is nothing forcing us to say that this episode took place in a leap year — which would certainly make it the month of Adar close to Nissan.

As all matters of Torah, this episode should serve as an eternal lesson in service to G‑d. However, Choni HaMagel lived in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh, and was one of the greatest sages, to the extent that Shimon ben Shetach said to him, ‘Were it not that you are Choni I would have placed you under the ban ... But what shall I do to you who acts petulantly before G‑d as a son who acts petulantly before his father and still he grants his desires.” If, then, Choni was of so lofty a stature even among the other sages, what lesson can people like us learn from his conduct?

There is a perplexing matter in this episode itself. Why did Choni’s prayer for rain not bring “rains of blessing” straight away? Why did rains first fall only in drops, and then in too much force, and it was only after his disciples pointed out that these were not beneficial to the world that Choni was forced to say that “It was not for this I asked” — and only after all this did rain come down normally? Surely Choni himself knew that the people’s request for rain was for normal rains, rain that would benefit them, and not for drops or for destructive torments. Why then didn’t he pray in the first place for “rains of benevolence, blessing and bounty”?

This question applies not just to Choni’s prayers, but also to the way G‑d answered it. G‑d certainly knows what type of rain is beneficial. Why then did Choni have to pray again and again for the proper rain?

This episode, however, has profound lessons for Jews. Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of praying to G‑d, which is “that a person should beseech and pray every day ... asking for his needs” (Rambam, Hilchos Tefillah 1:2). In other words, when a Jew needs something, he is obligated to pray to G‑d to fulfill his need. It is an obligation on all Jews, men, women and children (because of educational reasons). The story of Choni HaMagel teaches how a person should pray. Since each Jew is a child of G‑d, as written: “You are sons to the L‑rd your G‑d” — and this applies regardless of his personal spiritual standing, as our sages have said, “Whatever the circumstances, they are My children” — a Jew’s prayer to G‑d should be “as a son who acts petulantly before his father.”

What does this mean? A Jew turns to G‑d and firmly requests his needs. Once, twice, and if he sees his request has not been fully answered, he says, “It was not for this I asked.” And if he sees the blessing is too much that he cannot, as yet, handle so much largesse, he should not be ashamed but should ask that the blessing be given to him in a manner commensurate to his situation.

Of course, only Choni HaMagel could draw a circle and say “I shall not move from here until You will have mercy upon Your children.” Only he could be sure that his prayer would be immediately answered. But what we can learn from Choni HaMagel is that just as he asked rain to fall, as a son asks for things from his father, so every Jew requests his needs from G‑d as sons of their father. How can we compare ourselves even in this respect to Choni? Our sages say that “A person is obligated to say ‘When will my deeds reach the deeds of my fathers, Avraham, Yitzchok and Ya’akov.” And because Choni HaMagel has blazed the path for us, it is now easy for each Jew to do likewise.

Now we can understand why the rain did not come down “normally” in the first place. The world can be viewed in two different perspectives: From the world itself, seeing only its external appearance; or from above, seeing its true, inner nature. When Choni viewed the world from his lofty level, he saw it in its inner perspective, on a level much higher than it is externally. Thus, to him, even when the rain came down in drops or in torrents, it could still be proper and “normal.”

Likewise, although G‑d certainly knows what kind of rain is needed, nevertheless, when viewed from above, the world appears to be a level fitting for a lofty type of blessing.

It was therefore necessary for Choni’s disciples to tell him to pray for rain which the world needs: not too much. Although from Choni’s perspective the world was lofty enough to absorb such blessings, nevertheless, externally, as the world actually is, it is not yet on that level. It needs “normal” rain.

After we are told of this story, we know that when we pray for our needs, we should in the first place pray that the blessing be in a form suitable for us. This is why we pray, “Your treasure-house which is good for us, open”: Although G‑d knows what is “good for us,” we are saying that since the true good is too lofty for us to absorb, we ask G‑d not to wait until we are ready to receive this true good, but to immediately grant that which is “good for us” — according to our capabilities.

If the above holds true of a Jew’s prayers for his personal needs, it certainly applies to the prayers of all Jews for the redemption: “Speedily cause the scion of Dovid Your servant to flourish ... for we hope for your salvation every day.” This prayer should certainly be uttered “as a son who acts petulantly before his father” — and G‑d certainly should fulfill it — immediately.


5. Chapter 11, verse 1 & 2 of parshas Shemini, states: “The L‑rd spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying to them: Speak to the children of Israel saying; These are the living things which you may eat of all the animals in the world.” The passage then goes on to enumerate which animals, birds, fish, and insects may be eaten, and which are forbidden.

There is a perplexing point in this entire passage. Why was this passage not said to the Jews immediately after Mattan Torah (the giving of the Torah)? At that time Jews became a nation, and were given special laws. Surely one of the first sets of laws given should have been concerning what is permissible to eat, for eating is something that is done every day. Instead, these laws were given now, after the eighth day of dedication of the Mishkan — nearly a whole year since Mattan Torah.

We could have answered that “there is no [chronological] order in Torah,” meaning the events narrated in the Torah do not necessarily follow chronologically. Thus, we could have answered that this passage was indeed said immediately after Mattan Torah, but was written here, in this parshah. Rashi, however, negates such an answer. On the words “Speak to the children of Israel,” he writes: “With this saying He made all of them equal in becoming messengers, for they had been equal in remaining silent and had accepted upon themselves with love the decree of G‑d.” Rashi is referring to the death of the two sons of Aharon, and is saying that because all of them had remained silent at this tragedy, G‑d rewarded them by making them equal messengers in His commands about the kinds of food they may eat. In other words, according to Rashi, this passage was said after the death of Aharon’s two sons, in the same order in which it is written.

The question thus remains: Why was so much time allowed to elapse from Mattan Torah before the Jews were told about the laws of eating, laws so necessary to everyday life? And why does not Rashi, who explains every perplexity in the plain meaning of the verses (or says “I do not know”), make some comment to answer this question?

We could perhaps answer simply that in the time period between Mattan Torah and when this passage was said, the laws of what is permitted to eat were not relevant in actual deed. During this period the Jews lived in the desert, where animals are not found, and certainly fish are non-existent. Although snakes (which are included in these laws — 11:42, Rashi) are found in a desert, nevertheless, it was still irrelevant, for when the Jews left Egypt, a “pillar of cloud” preceded them to lead the way and also to clear the path of snakes and scorpions (Rashi, Bamidbar 10:34). Thus no snakes or scorpions were to be found where the Jews encamped. G‑d therefore first commanded the Jews about things which were relevant to the time — the building of the Mishkan, etc. — and only afterwards, when they were preparing to journey to inhabited places, did He tell them about what they could and could not eat.

This answer, however, does not hold true, for there is a law in this passage which was relevant and necessary immediately after Mattan Torah. Verse 47 states: “To separate between the unclean and the clean, and between the living thing which may be eaten and that which may not be eaten.” Rashi comments that “Between the unclean and the clean” refers to the difference “Between what is [rendered] unclean by you and what is [rendered] clean by you — i.e., between [the instance where] half of the wind-pipe is cut, and [where] the major part of it is cut.” Similarly, Rashi says that “Between the living thing that may be eaten” refers to the difference between “[an animal] in which characteristics of a treifah were born, and it is [still] permissible, and an animal in which characteristics of a treifah were born and it is forbidden.” In other words, Rashi says that this passage also talks of the laws of kosher slaughtering and treifah, things which were relevant immediately after Mattan Torah — whenever they wanted to eat meat.

However, the problem that this passage is needed to teach the laws of slaughtering is resolved through an earlier passage. Scripture relates (Shemos 16: 12-13) that when the Jews requested meat to eat, G‑d told them that “At dusk you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread ... And it came to pass in the evening that the slov came up and covered the camp.” Rashi explains that “slov” is a “species of fowl which is very fat” (quail).

Since the Jews were provided with quails (and bread — Manna), it is obvious that although they possessed many animals, they would not use their own animals when G‑d had given them fat quail, more tasty than animal meat! And although fowl must also be slaughtered according to halachic methods — and therefore to eat the quail they needed to know the laws of slaughtering immediately after Mattan Torah — this is something that a five-year old learning Scripture does not yet know. He knows that animals need slaughtering, for he has already learned the verse (Bereishis 43:16), “Kill [the beasts] and prepare the meat,” which refers to slaughtering. We know this verse is talking about animals and not fowl, for later on (verse 32) it relates that the Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat with the Jews — and this was because the Egyptians worshiped animals as gods. Of fowl, however, we have not yet learned that there is a (Scriptural) obligation to ritually slaughter them. And even if a child has seen that fowl are slaughtered (e.g., at “kappores”), it’s possible that it is only a Rabbinic obligation.

Thus the laws of slaughtering were not relevant immediately after Mattan Torah — for the only meat they ate was quail — and therefore this passage did not need to be said then.


6. We noted above that parshas Parah is connected to Purim. We explained at the last farbrengen (on Purim) that Purim emphasizes the greatness of Jewish women — and so does parshas Parah.

Most sacrifices had to be of a male animal, whereas the Parah Adumah was specifically of a female animal — a cow. Rashi (Bamidbar 19:2, cited after verse 22) gives the reason for this: “This may be likened to the son of a maidservant who soiled the king’s palace. They said: Let his mother come and clean the excrement. Similarly, let the cow come and make atonement for the [golden] calf.”

The concept of sacrifices in general apply also in man’s spiritual service. The Ramban writes (on Vayikra 1:9) that “When a person does all these [services associated with a sacrifice], he should ponder on the fact that he has sinned against his G‑d ... and it would be fitting for him that his blood be shed ... if not for the merciful kindness of the Creator who accepted this sacrifice as a substitute and atonement.” Similarly, the Alter Rebbe explains (Likkutei Torah, parshas Vayikra 2b) that Scripture states (Vayikra 1:2) “When a man will offer from yourself a sacrifice to the L‑rd” and not, as would be grammatically indicated, “When a man from yourselves will offer a sacrifice” — for a sacrifice should be “from yourself, literally; that one should offer the soul of man below to the L‑rd.”

Sacrifices have their purpose that a person “may be acceptable before G‑d, as beloved of Him as before the sin, that his Creator may derive delight from his service” (Tanya, p. 182). That is, sacrifices effect not only that no punishment befall a person for his wrongdoing, but that he become acceptable and beloved before G‑d.

Teshuvah, repentance over wrongdoing, is principally the resolution that he will not sin again. Confession, request for forgiveness and regret for the past, is part of the repentance process; but its main component is not to sin again.

It is this which the Parah Adumah achieves: It is atonement for the sin of the golden calf, the root of all sin; and its principal thrust is that in the future, one’s conduct will be consonant to Torah’s directives. And to ensure that one will not sin again, the proper education in the spirit of Judaism is necessary.

This is why the parable Rashi cites to the Parah Adumah says “Let his mother come and clean the excrement”: A child’s education depends mainly on the mother, for, as the “mainstay of the house,” it is she who sets the tone of the whole household.

But all is not clear: The words “Let his mother come and clean the excrement” imply that we are talking about events after a misdeed, rather than the proper education which prevents misdeeds.

However, it is necessary to draw a distinction between actual sin and the desire to sin. A person’s nature may lead him to want the wrong things, to the extent that even a “Benoni,” who “has never committed, nor ever will commit, any transgression” (Tanya, p. 32), can “lust for all material things of this world, whether permitted or, G‑d forbid, prohibited” (ibid, p. 34). For “the very essence of the evil is in its full strength and might, in the left part [of the heart], as from birth.” But this is only in regard to the desires of the heart. In relation to the Benoni’s thought, speech and deed, the Yetzer (evil inclination) has no power to translate his lust from potential into actuality.

We see, then, that the word “cleaning” may be applied even to an education which prevents sin — meaning that one must clean out the “inclination of man’s heart which is evil from his youth,” thus ensuring that this inclination will never come to fruition.

In terms of the sin of the golden calf specifically, the “golden calf” reflects a lust — to the extent of worship — for wealth. “Cleaning” is needed: Jewish sons and daughters must be educated to long for holy things, Torah and mitzvos, not gold and silver.

Parshas Parah thus emphasizes the virtues of the Jewish woman: She is the mother who comes and “cleans” — to hei is given the privilege and responsibility to educate Jewish children in the spirit of Torah and Judaism.

Education begins at birth, which is why it is a Jewish custom to immediately surround a newborn Jewish child with holy Names, and to ensure that he or she sees pictures of pure objects only. Similarly, Jewish women are accustomed to sing to their small children a song with the words “Torah is the best merchandise, better than raisins and almonds.” Although the child does not understand what Torah is, inwardly he hears everything; and therefore when he absorbs the above concept when young, he will demand, when he grows older, that his father teach him more and more Torah.

In truth, education starts even before birth: during pregnancy, and even earlier, when the preparations were made amidst family purity, which includes the eating of only kosher foods by the parents. Likewise, to ensure that the mitzvah of kindling the Shabbos and Yomtov lights is observed. And these three things — family purity, kashrus, and Shabbos and Yomtov lights — are the domain of the woman.

The above words concerning the virtues of the Jewish woman are said in connection to the “Week of the Jewish Woman,” which began last weekend (erev Purim) and ends this weekend, Shabbos parshas Parah — both of which, we have explained, stress the lofty status of Jewish woman.

May it be G‑d’s will that the “Week of the Jewish Woman” be highly successful; and as in all holy matters, there is no such thing as a final “end,” but only an end to one step, with the purpose of going higher and further.