Monday, June 25, 2012

Chukat: The Death of a Tzaddik

Source: Rav Kook Torah
As the Israelites neared the end of their forty-year trek in the wilderness, they lost two great leaders, Miriam and Aaron. While a tremendous loss for the nation, their passing had a hidden spiritual benefit.

The Torah informs us of Miriam's death immediately after enumerating the laws of the Parah Adumah, the red heifer whose ashes were used for purification. The Talmudic sages already wondered what connection there might be between Miriam's death and the Parah Adumah :

"Why is the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the laws of the Parah Adumah? This teaches that just as the Parah Adumah brings atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement." [Mo'ed Katan 28a]
While this connection between Miriam and the Parah Adumah is well-known, the continuation of the same Talmudic statement, concerning the death of Aaron, is less so.

"And why is the death of Aaron juxtaposed to [the mention of] the priestly clothes? This teaches that just as the priestly clothes bring atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement."

In what way does the death of tzaddikim atone for the people? And why does the Talmud infer this lesson from both the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes?

Larger Than Life
The principal benefit that comes from the death of tzaddikim is the spiritual and moral awakening that takes place after they pass away. When a tzaddik is alive, his acts of kindness and generosity are not always public knowledge. True tzaddikim do not promote themselves. On the contrary, they often take great pains to conceal their virtues and charitable deeds. It is not uncommon that we become aware of their true greatness and nobility of spirit only after they are no longer with us. Only then do we hear reports of their selfless deeds and extraordinary sensitivity, and we are inspired to emulate their ways. In this way, the positive impact of the righteous as inspiring role models increases after their death.

While stories of their fine traits and good deeds stir us to follow in their path, certain aspects of great tzaddikim — extraordinary erudition and scholarship, for example — are beyond the capabilities of most people to emulate. In such matters, the best we can do is to take upon ourselves to promote these qualities in our spiritual leadership, such as supporting the Torah study of young, promising scholars.

Two Forms of Emulation
In short, the death of tzaddikim inspires us to imitate their personal conduct — if possible, in our own actions, and if not, by ensuring that there will be others who will fill this spiritual void.

These two methods of emulation parallel the different forms of atonement through the Parah Adumah and the priestly clothes. Ritual purification using Parah Adumah ashes was only effective when they were sprinkled on the body of the impure person; no one else could be purified in his place. This is comparable to those aspects of the tzaddik that are accessible to, and incumbent upon, all to emulate.

The priestly garments, on the other hand, were only worn by the kohanim. It was through the service of these holy emissaries that the entire nation was forgiven. This is like those extraordinary traits of the tzaddik that are beyond the capabilities of most people. These qualities can be carried on only by a select few, with the support of the entire nation.

1 comment:

  1. B’H”
    Parashat Hukat:
    Para Haduma was done by Elazar Hakohen, not by Aharon Hakohen. Why it was given to Elazar? Para Haduma is in’yan for tahara. Aharon is not tahara, he is kedusha, which is the highest madrega. And for the shehita Halacha says that it can be done by Israel. Zohar explains that Shehita is Din, Kohen is Hesed. Rav Haim Volojin brings that in the Midbar davka Kohen made Shehita, what is the logic? Shehita in Midbar was in a such high level, even Hulin meat was like kodesh. So, it was no dinim in Shehita, because it was on a higher level, but when went to EY the in’yan of Hulin turn into Dinim. In EY it was done by zarim, but in Midabar by Kohanim.
    However, Shmuel Hanavi went to Yeshiva and his Rabbi was Eli Hakohen. Eli was careful that he was Shohet. Then Shmuel hanavi told him you wrong, Shehita can be done by zar. If you want to do shehita you can, but it is not necessary. Why Kohanim make shehita? When a person on a high madrega, he wants to connect to an action that was previously was on a high madrega.
    Shmuel Hanavi held that let the Shehita be by Israel and that is the way to connect to Midbar.
    Channa his mother prayed for ordinary child, but we know that Shmuel Hanavi was keneged Moshe and Aharon. The secret of her prayer was that she knew that asking for good things, the Mecatrigim (forces of evil) can spoil it. She wants to decoy to Mecatrigim. When they heard that she is asking for regular boy they left her. When she asked for regular boy her Mahshava was on a very high level that her son be a tsaddik like Moshe and Aharon, so Shmuel was a product of that concept, when you do externally that low and you able connect to Mahshava that high. So that is why he said to Eli Hakohen that Shehita keshera be zar, which means let the Israel do Shehita and the Kohen have Mahshava that he wishes that he do shehita like in Midbar that will connect him.
    Eli thought that to be on that madrega you have to do an action, Shmuel learned from his mother that she verbally asked for one thing and her Mahshava was that her son became great tsaddik. Same thing in life when you do things don’t say, because Mecatrigim will try to ruin it.
    There is a Rama in Yore Dea in the laws of Shehita he brings Chidush from sefer Hasidim.
    If a person wants to check an animal if it is keshera or not. It says place your hand on back of the animal, if the animal puts his head down that it is kasher. If he keeps his head up it is taref.
    If the animal humbles itself you know it is kasher and if you put your hand and it stays straight -- it is Gaava, and you know it is terefa. And the musar of this is if the person does not bend, not flexible, does not lower himself that is the sign that he is taref, but when the person is hanav, he is humble to people, lows himself to the next guy it is kasher sign.
    (source Rabbi Eli Mansour)

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