What purpose is there in learning about parah adumah here in exile?
The same question is what purpose is in learning about any of the laws of the kodshim, of Mesichta Zevachim in exile? There’s a great purpose. But not one. There are a number of great purposes.
One purpose is called derosh vekabel sachar – investigate and get reward. It’s like saying what purpose is there in making money? Suppose somebody asked you such a dumb question. What purpose is there in making money? You have so much money you can never spend it anymore. It’s lying in the bank. From the interest alone you can live. So you answer, “It’s the game!” That’s what business people would say. Businessmen would say, “It’s the game.” It’s the fun of making money. That in itself is a reward.
So let me tell you something about learning Torah. On Tisha B’Av it’s forbidden to study Torah because on Tisha B’av you’re not supposed to have good times. Now that’s a surprise to a lot of people. If you would sentence them on Tisha B’av to study gemara, they would feel that’s the real עינוי; that’s a real affliction. It’s because they don’t understand. Studying Torah is a happiness. But like a lot of things, you have to get the taste of it. Once you acquire a taste for Torah, you’ll discover that it’s a lot of fun.
Besides the fact that you must know that ashrei mi shebah lekan vetalmudo beyado; you’re preparing a lot of merchandise to take along with you. That’s the only thing you’ll take along with you in the World to Come.
And therefore when you study parah adumah, it’s one of the most precious achievements. If you study other things, it’s because you need to know information. You must have information to know how to practice it. So you study hilchos sukkah; it’s a grand subject. But you’re doing it because you want to know. Otherwise you’ll be embarrassed. You’ll build the wrong kind of sukkah and then some talmid chacham might visit you and ridicule you because you made such a terrible error. It’s not a kosher sukkah and now you’re making a brachah levatalah; you built it under a tree or some other circumstance. A sukkah under a tree is not a sukkah. And so on, other halachos. But when you learn something like parah adumah, it’s nothing but pure devotion to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. You get nothing at all out of it except love of Toras Hashem.
But let me tell you, parah adumah is full of lessons; full of lessons. And just one lesson as a sample. Parah adumah teaches us there are certain things that at the same time that they can make a pure person unclean, it can also make someone else, an unclean person, pure. That’s the din by parah adumah – it can purify some people but others become tamei when they are involved with its preparation.
So let’s take an example of parah adumah. Young Israel is a parah adumah. Here’s a fellow who doesn’t know anything. He wanders into Young Israel and the people say Shabbos, Shabbos, Shabbos, Shabbos. They talk about being shomer Shabbos. And he listens. At least the lesson of Shabbos he learns. Very good! He might become a shomer Shabbos in Young Israel. Very good!
But let’s say somebody who is a shomer Shabbos already and he comes into Young Israel. So he might learn that it’s ok to give the Man of the Year award to a man with a gentile wife. That’s what he sees there; and now he learns, who is the Man of the Year at the National Council of Young Israel? A man with a gentile wife.
So for tamei’im, if the man already has a gentile wife and he comes into Young Israel, so they might teach him to be megayer her perhaps or to get rid of her. Very good. But otherwise it’s a very big chashash it will be metamei the tehorim, it will make the pure impure.
We learn the lesson that not all places are good for everybody; and therefore better people have to go to better places. That’s an important lesson. Because it might be a good place for a reformer. All reformers should go to Young Israel; they should all join up with Young Israel. But anybody who is anything better than that should look at better places.
TAPE # 213 (April 1978)