Parshas Ki Sisa

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By Rabbi Shloime Lindenbaum

ויעמד משה בשער המחנה ויאמר מי לה’ אלי ויאספו אליו כל בני לוי (פרק לב פסוק כו)

R’ Shimon Schwab related that when he spent a Shabbos together with the Chofetz Chaim, the Chofetz Chaim asked him, “did you know that I am a כהן?” When R’ Schwab responded in the affirmative, he continued questioning, “are you?” R’ Schwab said that he is not. The Chofetz Chaim exclaimed, “it’s a shame- when the בית המקדש will be rebuilt, everyone will have a strong desire to be amongst those fortunate enough to serve in the בית המקדש, and yet only those who are כהנים will be allowed to. What is the difference? When Moshe stood up after the sin of the Golden Calf and announced מי לה’ אלי- “Whoever is for Hashem, join me!”, my great-grandfather ran to join him and yours didn’t! Because of that decision, your entire family lost out on the privilege of serving in the בית המקדש!” The Chofetz Chaim looked at R’ Schwab and reiterated the glaring lesson, “when they call מי לה’ אלי everyone should run, and whoever doesn’t, loses out.”

ויקחו אליך פרה אדומה (פרשת חקת פרק יט פסוק ב)

We read the פרשה describing the purification process for טמאי מת (those who came in contact with a dead body) a few weeks before פסח to remember that anyone who needs to purify themselves before the קרבן פסח should do so. There is a deeper reason as well. R’ Asher Eisenberger explained that the פסח signified absolute allegiance to Hashem. This is why by the first קרבן פסח the Jews were instructed “משכו וקחו לכם צאן”- to remove themselves from any עבודה זרה before involving themselves in the קרבן. The פרה אדומה, as explained by Rashi in פרשת חקת, was meant to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, the first example of the Jewish nation serving עבודה זרה. Therefore, the פרה אדומה is an appropriate topic to discuss in preparation for פסח; as we get ready to bring the קרבן that declares the Oneness of Hashem, we read the פרשה atoning for עבודה זרה.


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