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The Somewhat Litvshe Yid

Friday, July 08, 2005

Parshas Chukas

The Gemara at the end of Moed Koton (28a) asks, why did the Torah connect (למה נסמכה התורה) the portion of the Red Heifer and the death of Miriam? (Considering that the mitzvah was obviously given earlier, Bamidbar 8:7 הזה עליהם מי חטאת see Emek Davar Bamidbar 19:1) It answers there with the statement, just as the Red Heifer atones (מכפרת) so the death of the righteous (מיתתן של צדיקים) atones.
There is another Gemara, at the end of Sanhedrin (113a), which seems to contradict this statement of Chazal. When a righteous man passes from this world ( צדיק נפטר מן העולם), evil comes to the world (רעה באה לעולם). This is learned out from the pasuk in Yeshayahu(57:1) The righteous perishes and no man lays it to heart(הצדיק אבד, ואין איש שם על-לב), and the merciful men are taken away from the evil to come(ואנשי-חסד נאספים באין מבין, כי-מפני הרעה נאסף הצדיק).

Rav Moshe Tzuriel, in his Otzros HaAggadah (ח"א), gives an interesting answer. He bases it on another Gemara in Sanhedrin (108b), that the funeral oration of the righteous staves off retribution (ללמדך שהספדן של צדיקים מעכבין את הפורענות). Why does the death of the righteous bring atonement on the world? When they are remembered, people are aroused to repentance and good deeds, as the righteous are taken as role models and the tales of their actions are mentioned and spread. If, though, no one pays attention to the Hespaidim and the passing of the tzaddik is looked over, then truly it brings evil on the world. Since not only was an opportunity lost to those surviving, but the good that he himself did will not increase. Such is the case from the pasuk in Yeshayahu, the righteous perishes and no man lays it to heart. His passing is ignored, his life not taken as an inspiration.

May we all be zocheh to see the Geula Sh’leimah speedily in our days.

Good Sabbos.

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