Summary of The Maftir:
This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read the section known as
Parah. The additional sections of Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and Chodesh are
read prior to Pesach for both commemorative and practical reasons.
Shekalim, the first additional section, dealt with the 1/2 Shekel and the
public sacrifices. The reading of the second section, Zachor, facilitated
our fulfillment of the Mitzvah to remember the evil of Amalek. The two
sections of Parah and Chodesh are directed toward our preparations for Pesach.
On Parshas Parah, we read the section found in the beginning of Parshas Chukas
known as Parah. This section discusses the necessary steps that had to be
followed to remove the impurity which caused by having had contact with a
dead person. This process involved a seven day period during which the
impure - Tameh person underwent a process involving the ashes of the Red
Heifer. The process was facilitated by a Kohen, and had to take place in
The status of being Tameh restricted a person from entering into the Temple
compound and / or participating in certain select activities. Although
these restrictions are less applicable today because we do not have the
Bais Hamikdash; nevertheless, it is incumbent upon all people, male and
female, to keep these laws to the degree that they do apply.
In the time of the Bais Hamikdash it was required of every male adult to
visit the Bais Hamikdash and offer a sacrifice a minimum of three times a
year: Pesach, Shevout, and Succoth. However, it was even more important to
be there on Erev Pesach to sacrifice the Korban Pesach - Pascal Lamb.
Anyone who happened to be Tameh, from having had contact with a dead body,
would have to undergo the process of the Parah Adumah - the Red Heifer, to
remove the status of Tameh and be allowed to bring his Pascal Lamb to the
The Talmud tells us that the furthest point in Israel from Yerushalayim was
a two weeks travel. If so, a person who was Tameh living two weeks travel
away would require a minimum of three weeks to arrive in Yerushalayim with
sufficient time to go through the one week process of the Red Heifer and be
able to offer his Korban Pesach. Therefore, Chazal ordained the reading of
Parah on the week before the reading of Chodesh as a public reminder to
those who are Tameh that they must immediately arrange to get to
Yerushalayim so that they can purify themselves in time to bring the Korban
Summary of The Haftorah:
This week's Haftorah reflects the reading of Parshas Parah. Yechezkel, the
prophet, berated the people for their defection away from G-d. Their
behavior defiled Eretz Yisroel rendering them unfit to remain within her
boundaries. Therefore, the Jews had to be exiled from their land and
dispersed among the nations. The exile and the consequent suffering while
in exile would serve as a process purification process for the nation. In
essence, the exile would be a national Parah Adumah - Red Heifer.
Central to the theme of the Haftorah is the fact that Hashem ultimately
redeems the nation, "for His own sake." While in exile the Jews are able
to spread the word of G-d and teach His existence to the other nations.
However, exile will also take its toll on the Jews. The Jews interaction
with other nations will result in furthering the very defection which
caused G-d to first punish the nation.
Among the mysteries of the Parah Adumah is the fact that the Kohen who
administers the ashes becomes impure while the recipient of the ashes
becomes pure. In essence this is the experience of the Jew in exile. The
Jews have brought knowledge and understanding of G-d to the nations wherein
which they were exiled, while at the same time suffering terrible
persecution and assimilation through their association with the non-Jewish
world. The nations have become pure while the Jews have become impure.
In the end G-d will redeem the nation and gather them in from the four-
corners of the earth, "for His own sake." The time will come when the
purpose of the Jew in exile will have been fulfilled. Then, there will be
no further reason for the Jew to remain among the other nations and G-d
will renew His covenant with the Bnai Yisroel and return them to Eretz