By Rabbi Heshy Grossman
"There is no interruption between [Parshas] Parah and HaChodesh.....a sign
for this is: between cups [of the Seder] if one wishes to drink, he may,
but between the third and fourth cups, he may not drink." (Yerushalmi,
Megillah, 3, 5)
During a five-week span, as the month of Nissan approaches, we read four
special Parshios, as a process leading to Yetzias Mitzraim. The Parshios of
Parah and HaChodesh are unique in that they are read on consecutive weeks,
without a Shabbos separating between them. As an allusion to this law,
Chazal indicate a similar requirement regarding the third and fourth cups
of the Pesach Seder, where no foreign element can be introduced.
This similarity is not a mere mnemonic device, but indicates an inner
relationship binding the Arba Parshiyos with the Arba Kossos. In our shiur
this week we will expand upon this theme, defining as well the redemptive
process leading to Pesach night.
On a different level, the four Parshios parallel another developmental
process, the three Avos, and their descendants, Knesses Yisrael.
In general, the exodus from Egypt marks the birth of the Jewish nation.
Beginning with a small group of seventy planted in a foreign land, the
growth and maturity of the B'nai Yisrael compares to the development of a
fetus in its mother's womb.
The nation as a whole is more than the sum of its parts. 'Tzibbur' defines
a new entity, a complete unit rather than individual elements. It is for
this reason that prayer with a Minyan is preferred to private supplication.
The congregation of Israel relates directly to G-d, sharing with Him a
dimension of G-dly immutability.
Parshas Shekalim, the first Parsha, is our initial approach to this level.
The coins donated by each individual became communal property, used for the
purchase of Korbanos Tzibbur, sacrifices that united all Israel. Each
pledge was an act of 'Nedivus HaLev', the benevolence and generosity of the
children of Avraham Avinu, the original 'Nadiv'. (see Chagigah 3a)
In his devotion to Hashem, and with the desire to reach beyond his limited
existence, Avraham Avinu gave all of himself; his property, family, and
life. This characteristic defines him as the father of all converts, those
individuals who cast away their identity in search of a higher truth.
In every relationship, one side is the first to reach out and express their
wish for a closer connection. Would this be the only basis for the
friendship, it would be doomed to failure. If his affections are not
reciprocated, the party who gives of himself loses his dignity, having
surrendered his very self in his efforts.
It is for this reason that the classic Jewish mother is the butt of comic
humor. In her unceasing concern for the welfare of her family she loses her
individual identity, sacrificing herself for the benefit of her children.
Hence, in the Biblical history that defines life's true relationship, G-d
and Israel, our father Avraham sires Yitzchak.
Yitzchak is the force that solidifies his father's achievement, contracting
within himself in recognition of inner truth. He sees only G-d, binding
himself at the altar for the balance of life, forever blind to the world's
evil. Avraham's love begets the fear of Yitzchak, as yearning for G-d
breeds disdain for evil.
Yitzchak is the model of Parshas Zachor. He erases evil from existence in
his single-minded adherence to G-d's command.
"Amar Rebbi Yochanan: Ya'akov Avinu never died. Said [Rebbi Yitzchak]: Was
it for naught that he was eulogized, embalmed, and buried? He [Rebbi
Yochanan] said: I am interpreting a verse.....Ya'akov is compared to his
descendants, as his offspring are alive, so too, he is alive." (Ta'anis 5b)
This passage is quite puzzling. Rebbi Yitzchak questions the assertion that
Ya'akov is still alive, his burial serving as ample evidence. How is this
objection resolved? Does a verse in the Torah reverse the facts?
Let us explain.
Death is the ultimate defilement, a final barrier obscuring man's view of
eternity. It clouds our perception, limiting this world to mortal
dimensions. No man can see the world-to-come, when we will be free from the
grip of death's claw. Of necessity therefore, the Mitzva that teaches of
this purification lies beyond our grasp, the Chok of Para Aduma.
Ya'akov Avinu is the living embodiment of Parshas Parah. His life continues
in a world beyond our reach. As the red heifer is a Mitzva that can never
be fully understood, so too, the life of Ya'akov is eternally sustained,
despite all logic.
Rebbi Yochanan's answer is this: Ya'akov Avinu exists as a G'zeiras
HaKasuv, a heavenly decree that defies standard reasoning.
He lives through his children, Klal Yisrael. His life takes new form in a
dimension that simply transforms his identity. For this reason, Klal
Yisrael is referred to by his name.
There can be no separation between Ya'akov Avinu and his sons. Together,
they are destined to be reborn, renewed once again. As the moon waxes and
wanes, disappearing in darkness only to reappear, so too, Klal Yisrael will
someday return in all its glory.
Parshas Parah and Parshas HaChodesh can not be separated. The Chok alludes
to the world above our own, the dimension of Rosh Chodesh. The present
time-frame is subject to the dictates of a higher order. Klal Yisrael
directs life according to its own calendar, in a time and place of their own.
As our lives revolve around the four Parshios that reflect our birthright,
on Seder night we live with the four cups that redeem us from affliction.
Redemption has four stages.
"....V'HOTZAISI Eschem MiTachas Sivlos Mitzraim, V'HITZALTI Eschem
MeiAvodasam, V'GA'ALTI Eschem B'zro'a Nituyah U'Vi'Shfatim Gedolim.
V'LAKACHTI Eschem Li LaAm..." (Shmos 6, 6-7)
These are the four expressions of Ge'ulah, represented by the four cups of
wine on Leil Seder.
Beginning with servitude in Mitzraim, the historical experiences of the
B'nai Yisrael trace their development, from the birth of a nation to full
maturity. As a child in its mother's womb, the Jewish people did not exist
as an independent entity prior to the exodus.
G-d takes us out of hiding, and brings the nation of Israel to life. With
the miracles of Yetzias Mitzraim, His Hand becomes visible throughout the
world . As a Metziah that had been lost and subsequently recovered,
'V'Hotzaisi', G-d begins to reveal the purpose of creation.
This too, parallels the discovery of Avraham Avinu, father of all those who
strive to be reborn. He brings to light a new reality, the ultimate
'V'Hotzaisi, the 'Metzius Ha'amitis' - true existence, the basis of creation.
The emergence of this new dimension is not trouble-free. Threatened to be
engulfed by the surrounding evil, G-d promises - 'V'Hitzalti', protection
from harm. Evil will never conquer the nation. This corresponds to
Yitzchak, in whose world iniquity was vanquished, at the altar where
everything but the word of G-d was burnt to ash.
And further still: Loyal to the covenant of Ya'akov, Klal Yisrael merits
'V'Ga'alti'. Ya'akov is the bridge between the Chesed of Avraham and the
Pachad of Yitzchak. Able to transcend the trials and tribulations of battle
with his enemies, Ya'akov reveals the glory of Hashem in distant lands. The
trees he planted in Mitzraim become the bulwark of the Mishkan. As his
children journey through the desert, they bask in G-d's presence, which
travels with them till they reach their goal. This is true redemption, a
return to the level of their fathers.
It is with the Mishkan that we close Sefer Shmos. The children are united
with the Avos who brought the world to a new reality. Cultivating the spark
of their fathers, G-d takes them as His people, 'VLakachti Eschem Li LaAm'.
Heaven forbid that we separate between the Avos and their descendants. Any
break leaves us behind in Egypt, missing the exodus that is sure to come.
The modern attempt to forge a new identity for Klal Yisrael forgets this:
We exist only in the world of our fathers. Following the beat of a distant
drummer, we order our lives along a tempo of our own, uninterrupted,
ignoring the call of a beckoning world on our march towards eternity.
"And you, do not fear, my servant Ya'akov, and do not be broken, Israel,
for I will save you, from the distant [land], and your children from the
land of their captivity, and Ya'akov will return, quiet and tranquil, with
nothing to cause him fear." (Yirmiah 30,10)
JerusalemViews, Copyright (c) 1999 by Rabbi Heshy Grossman and Project