web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Parshas Parah’

Q & A: Bibliographical Oddities Regarding Parshas Parah

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Editor’s note: As I was in the midst of preparing a response to a reader’s query on the topic of the arba parshiyot, I found a scholarly piece from Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich, a prominent rav in Flatbush, on the obligation to read Parshas Parah. With his kind permission I have decided to preface my discussion with part of his article.

Bibliographical Oddities Regarding Parshas Parah

The Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Chanukah, 685:7) writes that some authorities maintain that there is a biblical obligation to read Parshas Zachor and Parshas Parah. The Be’er Hagolah (the Vilna Gaon’s great-grandfather), in his glosses (first published in Amsterdam 1666), cites Tosafos Berachos 13 as the source for this opinion. However, the words “Parshas Parah” do not appear in that Tosafos in our Vilna/standard edition of the Talmud. Nor do they appear in the parallel Tosafos in Megillah 17b. Indeed, the Piskei Tosafos in Megillah only quote Tosafos with regard to Parshas Zachor, not Parshas Parah. So to what Tosafos is the Be’er Hagolah referring?

In the Bomberg Shas, the first complete Talmud ever published, the words “Parshas Parah” do in fact appear. In his Chochmas Shlomo (published in Cracow in 1582 based on the Bomberg edition), the Maharshal remarks that the words “Parshas Parah” are a mistake and should be omitted. We now understand that the Be’er Hagolah probably used one of the three Bomberg Talmuds printed in Venice (1519-1523, 1526-1531, and 1548 ), the very popular Justinian Venice edition (1546-1551), or perhaps even one of the Cracow or Lublin editions (published in the first third of the 17th century). (I have intentionally omitted the Sabionetta [1553], Lublin [1559], Constantinople [1583] and Basel [1578] Talmud editions from this list of possibilities for various reasons.)

The story, however, does not end here. In 1644, Emanuel Benevinisti began publishing the beautiful Amsterdam Talmud. In the title pages to all the volumes of the Talmud, the publisher claims: “We have taken men distinguished in Torah and the work of heaven to correct and learn with the wonderful book entitled ‘Chochmas Shlomo’ to select the lilies from it, which give forth a fragrant aroma. It is necessary to correct the well-known errors on every page, day by day, before it is brought to the printer, in order to remove all the defects, so that it may be cleaned and sifted as fine flour cleansed through thirteen sifters.”

Yet, when we look at the Tosafos on Berachos 13a, the words “Parshas Parah Adumah” appear, despite the gloss of the Maharshal declaring them a mistake. (The Maharsha’s commentary also does not appear in the Amsterdam edition despite the claim on its title pages that the glosses of the Chochmas Shlomo appear “word for word” at the end of each tractate.) It seems that Benevinisti simply copied most of the text of his title pages from the 1602-1605 Cracow editions (including even his particular use of ornamental letters for the names of the tractates).

Although the Maharshal claims that the words in Tosafos are a mistake, Rabbi Yosef Caro, who was his contemporary (1488-1575), decided to include the opinion that reading Parshas Parah is a biblical obligation as “some say” in the Shulchan Aruch, as well as in his Beis Yosef commentary to the Tur. Indeed, in his discussion in 146:2 of the Shulchan Aruch, this opinion of Tosafos even seems to be an “accepted” ruling!

I would be remiss to conclude without mentioning the ingenious approach of Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen (Meshech Chochma, Parshas Chukas, 19:20) who in his inimical style, relying on three separate sugyos in Masseches Yoma, proves that the reading of Parshas Parah during the ancient purification ritual was a biblical obligation. Unfortunately, this cannot really help explain our Tosafos who is obviously referring to the public reading of Parshas Parah, not in conjunction with the purification ritual.

This article was written in honor of two kallos na’os ve’chasudos: Chanie Hirsch and Yael Rabinowich. Rabbi Rabinowich can be contacted at JHTours@gmail.com.

(Next Week: The Daled Parshiyot)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Adar And Beyond

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Just last week we experienced the crowning point of the month of Adar by commemorating the extraordinary events that unfolded in the ancient Persian Empire. We read the scroll of Esther, enjoyed a hearty feast, and traded gifts of goodies with each other.

Days later, shalach manos remnants still clutter available surface space in most homes, while the truly artistic, edible works of art sit undisturbed and whole, adorning our dining room sideboards in their original attractive packaging. Not for long, though, because Pesach’s clean sweep will have us scrambling to dismantle or ingest or give away most of the items.

Why, of all holidays, was Purim singled out for the mitzvah of shalach manos? One perspective, attributed to the Chofetz Chaim, links this to the Jews having taken part in the feast of Achashveirosh while nonetheless maintaining kashrus in their own homes. Sending and receiving shalach manos signaled trust in one another, their contention being that participation in the king’s lavish celebration was merely a show of respect for his reign.

Decidedly of greater impact, if less eye-catching, is the Purim mitzvah of matanas l’evyonim, gifts for the poor. Since the mitzvah of tzedakah is boundless as well as consistently incumbent upon us, why does it warrant such top billing at this time of year?

For one, as the twelfth month of the year, Adar affords us a last-ditch opportunity to compensate for our deficiency in repentance a half-year earlier (in the month of Elul). In the same way that we begin our thirty-day preparation at the start of Elul to stand before God on the Yom HaDin, we use the month of Adar to get into shape for Nissan, also a z’man teshuvah, a time when we recall how our Father in Heaven extracted us from the depths of impurity and raised us up to the level of kedushah. A yearning for His closeness prompts us to feel remorse for our wrongdoing, and, as the Talmud states, we will only be redeemed when we do teshuvah.

With the distribution of tzedakah, we fulfill the criteria of teshuvah: tzom (fasting) – we fast on Ta’anis Esther; kol (voice) – we listen to the reading of the megillah; and mamon (money) – we disperse charity with a generous hand.

* * * * *

The Arba Parshiyos, the four portions of Torah read on the Shabbos of their relevancy beginning with Rosh Chodesh Adar and culminating with Rosh Chodesh Nissan – namely Parshas Shekalim, Parshas Zachor, Parshas Parah and Parshas HaChodesh – correspond to the four elements that are the foundation of all creation: fire, water, earth and wind.

Shabbos Parshas Shekalim

Intended as a spiritual uplifting of the yesod of aish (the element of fire), this portion ushers in the month of Adar, during which time we renew our bond with Hashem, and is read in remembrance of the machatzis hashekel, the half shekel each member of the Jewish nation would contribute toward the upkeep of the Beis HaMikdash.

Since we, alas, do not have the Beis HaMikdash in our time, the machatzis hashekel serves as a symbol of that era and is donated to the poor (an act that should not be confused with Purim’s mitzvah of matanas l’evyonim, which is a separate observance).

The root word of machatzis is chatzi (half), composed of the letters ches, tzaddik and yud. The tzaddik in the center stands for tzedakah (charity), while the ches and yud on either side form chai (life) – emphasizing that charity confers life on the giver.

According to an interpretation ascribed to the Shach, man can never be fully satisfied with what he attains and will always feel the need for something more, due to the fact that of the four elements involved in man’s creation, only half – water and earth – are weighable; the machatzis hashekel comes to symbolize that man will invariably have only half of what he craves.

Shabbos Parshas Zachor

The second of the four parshiyos, read on the Shabbos preceding Purim, conveys correction of the element of water and recalls what Amalek did to us on the way out of Egypt (asher karcha baderech – when they met you on the way). The root of the word karach is kar (cold), an allusion to the yesod hamayim (foundation of water), which is cold – as are the cold-blooded Amalekim bent on annihilating the Jewish nation to this day.

The portion begins with an admonition to “Zachor… remember what Amalek did to you…” and ends with “Lo tishkach – do not forget.” Why the redundancy? Reb Elimelech’s reaction to someone who complained of his increasing forgetfulness offers us a clue. The tzaddik advised the sufferer to do teshuvah because repentance is a segulah for good memory retention. Giving in to the yetzer hara leads to a mind blockage, whereas the act of teshuvah has the power of removing one’s forgetfulness. Hence, the mitzvah of obliterating any vestige of evil – as in eradicating one’s evil inclination – will promote good memory.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/adar-and-beyond/2012/03/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: