Prologue: They say that the sequel is never as good as the original. But did it have to be so obvious? In this week's Sedra, we read about the different Luchos offered to Klal Yisroel. The first set were broken by Moshe after the sin of the Eigel. The second set were later given by God to Moshe. When offering the second Luchos, Hashem tells Moshe "Pisal Lecha" go out and make them yourself. Why did Hashem wish to change the style of the Luchos so that the originals were God written and the
second set, man-made?
The famed Maggid of Dubno (Mishlei Yaakov) offered a fantastic insight in his unique style: There once was a wealthy
businessman who conducted his business through a middleman. The middleman was an honest fellow and the businessman appreciated him. After the middleman retired, the businessman sought and hired a new fellow to fill his job. This second guy was actually faster than the first guy and did deals at a very good rate. However, the second guy was not as honest in
business. Still, the businessman hired him thinking that although he might steal, the rate of business with the second guy should compensate for the losses. So, the businessman went and had the middleman go pay the lawyers to set up their contact together. The new middleman was incensed. "Why do you charge me with the expense of the contract if you didn't do that for my predecessor?" he asked. The businessman explained that the earlier worker was an honest man who acted solely for the needs of the businessman's company. He had no ulterior motives. However, the new middleman did operate with personal motives in mind. It was for the personal motives that he would have to pay the contract fees.
Similarly, when the new Luchos were offered, they were given with a new mindset, MeToch Shelo Lishma. The earlier giving of the Torah was Kol Asher Deeber Hashem Naaseh witrhout ulterior motives. But after the Eigel, the Jewish resolve had to be re-evaluated. This idea is contained within the command to create the new Luchos. Moshe was told, Pisal LECHA. Hashem recognized that this giving had an additional Bnei Yisroel added, benefit in its giving. For that personal benefit, the Jewish people had to have someone prepare the Luchos for them and undertake the costs of the writing.
The sin of the Eigel was quite an expensive one. Halachically, it is one that we recall daily and, at the same time take steps not to remind God of. Yet, there are times during the year that Eigelei Bakar play an important role in correcting the sins of the past. This week's Chaburah examines one such example. It is entitled:
How NOW Red cow?: Polling Parshas Parah
The Talmud tells us that there was a great debate concerning the greatest value. Talmud Gadol O Maaseh Gadol. Which is
greater, the study of Torah or the performance of Mitzva activity? The Gemara determines that in fact, Talmud is greater because it leads one to the greater performance of Mitzvot. Often it is the understanding of how and why we do Mitzvot, the study of Halacha L'Maaseh, that accomplishes the greatest levels of Torah learning (See Pesicha L'Sefer B'Ikvei HaZoan).
And then there are the Mitzvos that seem to be totally connected in their command to study. Take Parshas Parah for instance. It seems as if there is an obligation ot hear the reading of this Parsha. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 685:7) notes that this obligation is biblical in nature. The Mishna Berurah (687:15) quotes others who note that the obligation is Rabbinic. What is their argument about?
The Avodas Yisroel explains that since the story of Parah Adumah begimns with a command to Moshe and Aharon "Leimor" , the
implication is a Biblical command to follow the Mitzva. However, unlike other Mitzvot that have the command "Leimor," here the word is repeated again, "Asher Tziva Hashem leimor" so as to suggest that even after there is no longer any Parah Aduma, there is still a biblical commandment to read the Parsha (Leimor..to say it). This implies that the commandment is Biblical today. Others suggest that the stress in the Parsha of "L"Chukas Olam" (forever) implies that there is still an obligation to read the Parsha since it is impossible to perform it (See Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 687:7). These reasons find that the commandment to read Parshas Para is biblical as a replacement for the Tahara it talks about. (see also Meshech Chochma P. Chukas).
As noted above, the Mishna Berurah quotes others who disagree. They maintain that there is no obligation to hear Parshas Parah biblically. Still, the modern Poskim maintain that one should be Chosheish for the opinions that this reading is a Chiyuv Mee'Dioraisa and that an announcment stating so should be made prior to its reading so that all will be Yotzai (See Moadim U'Zmanim II:168).
Yet, when we discuss the Chiyuv, it should be noted that this obligation does not apply to all as it does during Parshas Zachor.
The Poskim note that the obligation to read Zachor is one that falls on each individual and thus perhaps it is an obligation for all to hear it - including women (See Shut, Binyan Zion II:Viii, Shut Minchas Elazar II:1, 5, Minchas Chinuch, Mitzva 603). However, all seem to conclude that the Mitzva of Parshas Parah, even if it were to be biblical in nature is a Chovas Hatzibbur and thus would not apply to women who do not make up the entity called Tzibbur (See Moadim U'Zmanim II:168).