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PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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For further info, click here.

PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 3
3 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
0 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 87

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1245

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 4670

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Shoftim / Judges 11:1 - 33

This week we study Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"


פרשת חקת
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode Moshe's name was cleared and Shevet Levi was declared the winner in an all-out rebellion by Korach and his "avodah-niks".

Hashem rewards the descendants of Aharon with 24 presents from Bnei Yisroel. But only pure Kohanim can partake in these gifts! What if a Kohain touches a dead body and becomes tamay? What if any Jewish person touches a dead body and becomes tamay? How will he become pure again?

Don't have a cow.. have a "Parah Adumah" - a red cow.


PARAH
ADUMAH -

THE
RED COW

Hashem commands any tamay person not to enter the Camp of the Shechinah. He must wait seven days. On the third and seventh days a Kohain sprinkles him with the ashes of a Parah Adumah, a red heifer, or red cow, mixed with water. Then, on the seventh day he goes into the mikvah and is pure that night.

Why the red cow?

That's Hashem's secret.

A Mitzvah that has no explanation is called a "chok." A Mitzvah whose reasons and logic are not understood by human intelligence.

These Mitzvot may not make sense to us but have great meaning to Hashem. We keep them because of our love for Hashem and purely because He has commanded us to do so.


THE FIRST
PARAH
ADUMAH

The first Parah Adumah is prepared by Aharon's son, Elazar. He finds a red cow. But not just any red cow. It has to be a PERFECT red cow - completely red - not even two black hairs. If the cow was ever harnessed to a yoke, even if it did not do any work, it's no good; also, it can't have any mum or defect.

These cows don't come along too often. There were altogether nine Red Cows from the first one to the destruction of the second Bait Hamikdash. See the Midrash Maven for more details.

Miraculously, they do find one Parah Adumah in the camp of Israel. Elazar takes the cow beyond the clouds, outside of the camps and has it slaughtered while he watches. Then Elazar dips his right index finger into the Parah Adumah's blood and sprinkles it seven times toward the Mishkan.

Parah Adumah Next the Parah Adumah is burned - all of it, including the skin, blood and body. A Kohain ties a stick of cedar wood and a bunch of aizov grass together with a red wool string. He then tosses this bundle into the fire. Elazar and the assistant who burned the cow are now tamay until that evening. They must go to the mikvah to become pure again. A third assistant who is not tamay now comes to collect the ashes of the Parah Adumah. He too, becomes tamay until evening.

The ashes of the Parah Adumah are split into three portions that are put into three different places:

  • One part is placed on Har Hazaytim, the Mount of Olives, for Bnei Yisroel's use, and to mix with the ashes of future Parah Adumahs.

  • The second part is divided among the Kohanim to use in purifying a Kohain who becomes tamay.

  • And the third part is put away for safekeeping as per Hashem's commandment.
The ashes of the Parah Adumah are mixed with fresh spring water. This combination is sprinkled on a person who is tamay on the third and seventh day of tumah.

MIRIAM
DIES
AND THE
WELL
DRIES

The Torah flashes forward forty years to say goodbye to Miriam, Moshe's sister. On the 10th of Nissan, 2487, Hashem Himself takes back the soul of Miriam, who will be 125 years old. Even though she is a great person, only Moshe and Aharon show up at her funeral. This angers Hashem. For 40 years, in Miriam's merit, water sprang from a rock in the middle of the desert, and the Bnei Yisroel have the nerve to ignore Miriam's death!

So Hashem shuts off the water and throws Bnei Yisroel into a panic.

3 million men, women and children and no water! Moshe and Aharon, meanwhile, are in a tent mourning, when the Eirev Rav (remember those troublemakers? - they're still around), storm in and complain about the dried up well. Moshe and Aharon run for the Mishkan where they take a prayer position. The Cloud of Glory descends over the tent and Hashem assures Moshe and Aharon that the people will have their water.

Moshe is commanded to take the same stick that he used during the Egyptian plagues, and at the splitting of the Red Sea. He is to gather the people by the rock that once spewed forth water. Here he will SPEAK to the rock, telling it to once again bring forth water.

Simple enough.

But something goes very wrong. The rebellious people begin to mock Moshe. Moshe, in turn, becomes confused. Instead of talking to the rock, he hits it twice. Water gushes out and keeps gushing as long as Bnei Yisroel remains in the desert.

The Bnei Yisroel are satisfied but Hashem is not. Moshe has disobeyed Hashem's command and, small a mistake as it may be, since he is such a great tzadik, the sin is magnified. Aharon too, stood by as Moshe hit the rock and didn't stop him. Hashem swears that Moshe and Aharon will both die in the desert. They will never step foot in Eretz Yisroel.

The place where Moshe hit the rock is called "May M'rivah," which means "the Waters of Dispute." Here, the Jews argued with Moshe and Aharon till they "flew off the handle" causing them to die in the desert.


ROUNDABOUT
ROUTE

The Jews are camped in Kadesh near the Kingdom of Edom. Edom is one of the last treks of land Bnei Yisroel must pass through before entering Eretz Yisroel.

Moshe sends messengers to the King of Edom requesting peaceful passage through his kingdom. But the king flat out turns them down with a threat of war. Moshe sends messengers a second time and the king moves his armies to the borders of Edom. The Jews are on alert, but Hashem tells Moshe that now is not the time to fight. Bnei Yisroel is not prepared to do battle and Hashem does not want to destroy Edom at this point in time.

The same story happens with the Land of Moav, the King refuses to let Bnei Yisroel cross his land, and Hashem does not allow Bnei Yisroel to destroy Moav at this point in time. So the nation takes a longer route towars Eretz Yisroel.


ARIVEDERCI
AHARON

We are now in the fortieth year of wandering, on the First of Av. Aharon is 123 years old, Hashem send Moshe on a sensitive mission. He must gently tell Aharon that it is time for his soul to return to Hashem. The nation is camped at the base of Hor Hahar (Mt. Hor).

Moshe and Elazar ask Aharon to accompany them to the top of the mountain.They enter a cave high up in the peaks where they find a bed with linens and a burning candle by its side. Moshe removes Aharon's priestly garments and places them on Elazar. Aharon lays down on the bed and is covered completely by the Cloud of Glory. Then his soul departs.

Moshe and Elazar leave the cave. But neither one is prepared for the mob that awaits them at the base of the mountain. Aharon has always been a beloved national hero, known as a man of peace. He is well loved and respected. When Moshe and Elazar return without Aharon, the people accuse them of killing him.

Hashem orders the Malachim (angels) to lift the coffin of Aharon high for the entire nation to see. Then the Bnei Yisroel see the Shechinah "walk" before the casket and mourn for him. Now, all of Bnei Yisroel mourn Aharon's passing.


FROLIC
WITH
AMALEK

Upon Aharon's death, the Cloud of Glory that protects the Bnei Yisroel disappears. The camp is exposed and the Jews are not used to this. From now on, it is the Aron (Ark) that guides and protects the Bnei Yisroel from enemies and dangerous scorpions and snakes. While the cloud is down and everyone is preoccupied mourning for Aharon, Amalek decides to attack.

They come up with a sneaky plan:

If they speak the Canaanite language, the Jews will think it is a Canaanite nation attacking. Then they will pray to Hashem to be saved from the Canaanites. Since the attackers are not Canaanites, the prayers would not help. Meanwhile Amalek could keep fighting.

But the plan is foiled:

The Jews recognize the Amalekite clothing. They ask Hashem for help in defeating "this" nation, since they can't be sure who the attacker really is. Bnei Yisroel also promise to give all the spoils of war to Hashem. Hashem accepts their prayers and Bnei Yisroel defeats Amalek.


MOUTHING
OFF ABOUT
THE MANN

On the edge of Edom the nation is very close to Eretz Yisroel. When they learn that they'll have to backtrack through the desert, the Eirev Rav and rebels within Bnei Yisroel start to complain again about the taste of the Mann. Hashem gets angry at this ungrateful group of people. A voice from Heaven proclaims, "Listen all.. I took Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim (Egypt), and gave them Mann. Look at a snake! Everything it eats tastes like dust but it never complains. Let the snake punish all those who complain about the Mann which has so many different flavors."

Copper Snake Till now the Cloud of Glory, and then the Aron protected the Jews from snakes and scorpions. Now, the snakes have free reign. They bite the people who have spoken evil. Some die right away. Others take ill. Moshe davens (prays) for the people. He personally forgives them for their evil words. Moshe asks Hashem to forgive them too. Hashem provides Moshe with a remedy: Build a copper snake and place it at the top of a pole. If a person is bitten by a snake, they must look up at the copper snake and do Teshuvah. Only then he will be cured.


ONLY
MIRIAM'S
WELL
CAN TELL

The Bnei Yisroel travel along the borders of Moav to reach a safe crossing into Eretz Yisroel. Unknown to the nation, a miracle has occurred, saving Bnei Yisroel from certain defeat: The travel path is surrounded by mountains on either side and hidden in these mountains are soldiers armed with arrows and rocks. There is no escape! The nation would be buried in the valley.

When the Soldiers hide in the caves, Hashem commands the mountains to flatten on each side like fans. All the soldiers are crushed and the Bnei Yisroel are saved.The Jews might never suspect that their enemies plot is foiled except for a little flush job by the "Well of Miriam." Hashem causes the well to flood the space between the mountains. Bloody crushed bodies come streaming past the camp of Bnei Yisroel. The Jews now know of Hashem's miracle that has saved them from defeat, and praise Hashem by singing a Shira, a song of praise, for having given them the "Well of Miriam" and its constant water supply.


LAND
OF THE
GIANTS -
SICHON
AND OG

The Emorite nation, too, sits on the border of Eretz Yisroel. Moshe sends a messenger to Sichon, King of Emor, to request permission to pass through his land peacefully. But the nations of Canaan have paid off Sichon. He refuses the request for passage. Instead, he decides to try to destroy the Bnei Yisroel.

Sichon is a giant, one of those who survived since the time of the flood. His army is fierce and more powerful than Pharoh's ever was. But Moshe has a secret weapon - Hashem's four letter name. When he pronounces this name, King Sichon falls dead!

Meanwhile, the Jewish soldiers fight the Emorite army. By sunset, the Bnei Yisroel still have not finished the fight. So Hashem makes the sun stand still in the sky until the war is won.

Og the Giant Word of the Jewish victory over Sichon and his army spreads and the nations tremble. Only the giant, Og, Sichon's half brother, ruler of the Kingdom of Bashan, is fierce enough to seek revenge. Og is the strongest of all giants. Even though Moshe has faith that with Hashem's help he will be victorious, he still worries that Og may have a special merit for having warned Avraham when Lot was captured. But Moshe's fears are put to rest when Bnei Yisroel defeat Og and his armies through Hashem's miracles.


Will this be the final battle in the quest to reach safe passage into Eretz Yisroel? Will Moav finally move over and let Bnei Yisroel through?
Tune in next week as Moav makes a move in the next exciting episode of:
Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Chukat


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