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“And they shall axe the back of the heifer’s neck in the valley.” (21:4)

The murder of a Jew is a terrible tragedy which is compounded when the perpetrator might be another Jew. The parsha of eglah arufah, the axed heifer, addresses a situation where a corpse is found lying in the open. We have no idea who the murderer is. The Torah requires that the elders of the town nearest to the corpse perform a public ritual in which they proclaim that they are not responsible, neither by neglect nor by indifference, for the tragedy of this person’s death. The primary purpose of this parsha is to convey an important message: We are…

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“And they shall measure toward the cities that are around the corpse.” (21:2)

If a corpse is found in the open country and the identity of the murderer is unknown, the elders of the town nearest the corpse perform the ritual of eglah arufah, the axed heifer. There is a dispute in the Talmud in regard to a circumstance in which the decapitated head of the corpse is found a distance from the rest of the body. From where do we measure: from the head or from the body? In addressing the second Kenessiah Gedolah in Vienna in 1929 the Sokolover Rebbe, z.l., asked, “When the deceased is a spiritual casualty, when we…

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“Who is the man who is fearful and fainthearted?… and let him not melt the heart of his brethren as his heart.” (20:8)

The one who is afraid of the dangers that accompany war, whose anxiety overwhelms him, is sent home, lest his faintheartedness affect those around him. The Tchortkover Rebbe, z.l., was once asked by one of his chassidim which shul he should attend. It seems that his community had two synagogues; one was a large community shul, while the other was a small shtiebel frequented primarily by chassidim. The Rebbe responded that whichever shul had a member who prayed with a broken heart; that is the shul in which he should daven. He supported his answer with the above pasuk. We…

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“And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life.” (17:19)

The Sefer Torah shall be the primary focus of the king’s life. As it guides him through life, it shall be the object of his continual meditation. The love of Torah creates a bond that cannot be broken. Its influence is ever-lasting. Indeed, many years later, the original impact of the Torah upon a person retains its freshness and inspiration as evidenced by the following story: Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, tells of a Yerushalmi Jew, a profound talmid chacham, Torah scholar, who moved to Tzefas. The story takes place years ago when the opportunity and availability to own a complete…

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“You shall not turn from the word that they will tell you, right or left.” (17:11)

The spiritual leadership of Klal Yisrael makes their decision only after careful deliberation of the halachah, law. It is rendered by individuals whose relationship with Torah is of a singular nature. Their exemplary love for the Torah goes hand in hand with their profound scholarship. Their interpretation of the Torah is law. We are commanded to listen to them, even when the decision they render seems unjustified or incorrect. They represent the final word. To undermine the words of Chazal is to attack the Torah. The following incredible story was related by Horav David Puvarsky: The story takes place in…

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