The Power of Renewal

by Rabbi Nussbaum

March 13, 2020
Adar 17, 5780
Candlelighting Time 6:46 PM

After the Purim experience, we look forward to Pesach, the Seder and an individualized exodus that will lead us to a salient Mt. Sinai re-energizer. Even though that’s quite a tall order, that’s on our agenda as we prepare for the next couple of months of festivities. Actually, this week is dubbed the Shabbos of Parshas Parah, referring to the added reading of the portion dealing with the Red Heifer. That cow had only red hair and was used to purify those who had touched a cadaver or anything that had been in close contact with one. Although the individual who has become defiled is prohibited from access to the Beis Hamikdash and many other things, nonetheless, the process involving the Red Heifer will purify that person. His contact with a cadaver has altered his very being and now he will be on a different level of spirituality which will assist him to prepare for the Pesach sacrifice, or nowadays for the advent of Pesach and our special seder. 

We now need to explore what is entailed in this preparatory process which will gear us up for the wonderful Yom Tov that is soon to come. The fundamental theme of the Red Heifer is the idea of purification. Of course sprinkling the ashes of the burnt cow is only a physical act which serves to obviate the pollution that has settled upon the person. However, there is a profound incursion that occurs with this event. S’fas Emes illuminates this parsha stating that this mitzvah is termed a statute, one that is beyond our intellectual grasp. The one who purifies the defiled individual becomes defiled himself through this very system of expurgation. King Solomon wrote that this conundrum is so enigmatic as to puzzle even the greatest of minds. And that is precisely the purification which takes place because we recognize the supreme importance of negation of our finite intelligence to that of Hashem. Our adherence to Torah is hinged upon that very basic motif.  That purity of thought creates within us a soul filled with virtue and nobility. The most stable of matter is the dust of the earth. It is not self-mobile and it exemplifies that which is silent and of total conformity. Therefore, the ashes of the Red Heifer, resembling that material truly brings to a plateau of absolute denial of our passions in life and compels abidance to that of the Torah’s standards.           

S’fas Emes continues that with this critical foundation established, we can properly greet Pesach which is predicated upon the theme of renewal. Not only does the entire creation undergo a noticeable alteration of restoration, but we, every single person within our ranks, has the challenge and opportunity to modify, alter or completely shed our prior self, to to speak, an assume a spanking new approach to our relationship with Hashem. Just as we realize that everything is from Hashem which is identified through the protocol of purification, similarly our entire service of Hashem is essentially ignited and fueled with that same recognition that our capacity to function at a better more advanced level in our service to Hashem is interrelated with purity, that without His  assistance we cannot perform at any level. It is only through His sublime introduction of resources which are readily available to us in many venues that we can successfully merit a tremendous ascent on Pesach.


Moshe summoned all those who were for Hashem to join him. Of course the question is who would not want to identify with Hashem? The call to action was stating that all who only display allegiance to Hashem and have no other loyalty, they are to assemble and join me.                                                             CHOFETZ CHAIM