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If an animal that you may eat has died, one who touches its carcass shall become contaminated. (11:39)

We can derive some thoughtful lessons from the laws of tumah and taharah, ritual purity.  Horav S.R. Hirsch, zl, contends that the various cases of ritual contamination are derived from the principal source of tumah, the avi avos ha’tumah, “father of the fathers of contamination,”  the human corpse.  Death is the ultimate expression of the separation of the soul and spirit from the matter which we call the human body.  Hence, the corpse represents the physical dimension in its totality, in its most absolute form, severed from the moral freedom that life offers us.  The freedom to choose between right…

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These shall you abominate from among the birds, they may not be eaten – they are an abomination…the chasidah. (11:13,19)

One would think that with a name as impressive as chasidah, a derivative from chesed, kindness, this bird would rate a high standard of kashrus.  Why is it included as a non-kosher fowl?  Commenting on the Talmud Chullin 63a, Rashi attributes the name chasidah to the kindness it displays towards members of its species by sharing food with them.  Yet, its comparison is not recognized .  The Chidushei Ha’Rim explains that it directs its kindness only towards its own species / fellow.  In other words, chesed is not a commodity that we control at our pleasure.  If someone does not…

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Moshe said to Aharon: Of this did Hashem speak…”I will be sanctified through those who are nearest to Me,thus I will be honored before the entire People.” (10:3)

In this parsha, the Torah recounts the tragic loss of Aharon’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu.  The tragedy in itself is overwhelming; the fact that two such remarkable young men were taken from us under such circumstances makes it even more difficult to accept.  Yet, this is part of the Divine plan.  Who are we to question the Almighty?  Indeed, Chazal state a number of reasons to explain the punitive divine measures against Nadav and Avihu.  They are to be considered spiritually deficient only in the context of their lofty plateau of holiness.  “Bikrovai Ekadesh;” “I will be sanctified through…

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A fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them…Moshe said to Aharon, “Of this did Hashem speak saying, “I will be sanctified through those who are dearest to Me…and Aharon fell silent. (10:2,3)

This is one of the most compelling statements in the Torah.   For a father to witness the devastating death of his two sons — men who had exemplified service to the Almighty, who had brilliant futures before them — and to remain silent as stone is incredible.  How are we to understand this?  Indeed, throughout the generations parents have suffered grievous losses and have accepted it as Hashem’s Will.  Where does one conjure the temerity, the superhuman strength, to transcend human emotion to acccept Hashem’s edict in such a manner?  Apparently, these have not been ordinary people with an ordinary…

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