The Parah Aduma
The Parah Aduma, the red heifer, is mentioned in the Torah portion called Chukat. Its ashes were used to purify a person who had come in contact with a dead body, effectively contaminating that person. Join Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman as he explores the source in the text and discusses its relevance throughout time. What was so special about this red cow?
The Parah Aduma: The Parah Aduma-The Great Paradox
The Torah has 613 mitzvot. One way to classify these mitzvot is to divide them into two categories; mitzvot which we understand and mitzvot which we do not understand. In the first category we can place the mitzvot to respect our elders and to give charity. In the second category we can place the prohibition against wearing clothing made from linen and wool or the prohibition against cooking meat and milk together.
There are actually many mitzvot which puzzle us but one mitzvah is considered to be the mystery and that is Parah Adumah. Chazal taught that only Moshe Rabbeinu was vouchsafed the rationale for this mitzvah.
In tomorrow’s session we will discuss why this mitzvah is incomprehensible and what tentative explanations were suggested over the years.
The Parah Aduma: The remarkably odd story of the preparations for the Parah Adumah
Today we will discuss what exactly was done with a פרה אדומה. The paradox of this mitzvah which we saw last week is reflected in how the the Kohen who brought it as a sacrifice was deliberately made impure. Another unusual aspect to this mitzvah is the elaborate and remarkably odd system for preparing a Parah Adumah.
This preparation for the sacrifice of the Parah Adumah is what we will talk about in this session.
The Parah Aduma: The Parah Aduma
The Parah Aduma: The Parah Aduma- The How and Why
In this final session on the Parah Adumah we discussed first the technical or practical aspects of this mitzvah. How was the mixture of ashes and water prepared and used?
Next we saw the remarkable paper by Professor Zohar Amar of Bar Ilan University. He researched the simple question of how the did the ashes of less than 8 red heifers serve the needs of the Jewish people for over 400 years?
Finally we saw how the word טהרה-purity- was understood by the Rambam and Ramchal in their writings.
I enjoyed studying these halachot with you and may we all merit to see the them performed.
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman graduated from Yeshiva University in 1980 and the dental school of Columbia University in 1985. In 1989 he began studying and teaching at Yeshivat Hamivtar and now studies and teaches at Yeshivat Machanaim in Efrat. He has rabbinic ordination from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.