Israel Forever

For the week ending 22 March 2003 / 18 Adar II 5763

Survival from Ashes

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

In the long history of our peoples battle for survival we have been forced to contend with two categories of threats external dangers and internal ones. The external ones are the enemies pledged to our destruction who are represented by Amalek whose treacherous attack we recalled last Shabbat in our special Torah reading for Parshat Zachor. The internal ones are our spiritual imperfections which are represented by the ritual impurity which is the focus of this Shabbats special reading Parshat Para.

A major annual event in the life of Jews during the time of the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash was the offering of the Korban Pesach the Paschal lamb on the threshold of the Pesach holiday. In order to qualify for offering such an important sacrifice during the day and eating its flesh at night, acts which symbolized a Jews bond with his G-d and with his people, one had to be pure of spiritual contamination. Should one have contracted such contamination through contact with the dead, he could achieve purity only through a seven-day process involving the ashes of the para aduma the red heifer. In recalling this preparation of purification we read the Torah chapter regarding the red heifer a few weeks before Pesach as a reminder of the past need to become pure in time.

This reading should serve as a reminder to us in the present to purify ourselves of the spiritual contaminations which so much of Israeli society has contracted in its effort to emulate the corrupt culture of the non-Jewish world. To achieve this we do not need the ashes of the red heifer but rather a return to the Torah in which we read about them. This is what will achieve for us the spiritual purity which will merit Providential protection for Israel forever.

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