Parshas Para -Responsibility

There are people who do not acknowledge that the Jewish People as the chosen nation, the special children of Hashem; at least not anymore. There are even many who don’t even believe in G-d; they are atheists. However, back in the day, even after the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash, the whole world acknowledged Hashem as being all powerful, The King of Kings,  with the Jewish People as his beloved princes and princesses. So what happened?


This week is Parshas Para, one of the special Torah portions leading up to Pesach. We read about the para aduma, the red heifer, in the maftir Aliyah. The para aduma was used as part of the process of cleansing someone who had contact with the dead, which was necessary in order to partake in the korban Pesach. Consequently, there is a pasuk in the haftorah selected from Yechezkel which alludes to this spiritually cleansing process: “And I shall sprinkle pure water upon you, that you be cleansed” (perek 36, pasuk 25).

This pasuk in context is talking about the Jews’ return from the seventy year exile to rebuild the second Beis HaMikdash and resettle the Land of Israel. A few pesukim before it states: “And they came to the nations to which they came, and they desecrated My holy Name when it was said of them, ‘These are Hashem’s people but they departed His land.’ But I pitied My holy Name that the House of Israel desecrated among the nations to which they came. Therefore say to the House of Israel: ‘Thus says Hashem Elokim: for your sake do I act, O House of Israel, but for My holy Name that you have desecrated among the nations to which you came. And I will sanctify My great Name that was desecrated among the nations, that you desecrated among them. Then the nations shall know that I am Hashem the words of Hashem Elokim when I become sanctified through you in their sight” (Yechezkel 36:20-23).

These pesukim refer to a chillul Hashem, a desecration of Hashem’s Name, which took place while the Jewish People were in exile. What was the chillul Hashem? The Mahar”i Kara explains that the chillul Hashem was exactly what the end of verse 20 said, namely: “when it was said of them, ‘These are Hashem’s people but they departed His land.’” The nations of the world were telling them that they are the nation of Hashem and beloved in His eyes, and if He had the ability He would help them; they would not have left their land. He would have made sure of that but His strength weakened. We find that because of their sins they were exiled and the nations of the world did not say that their sins caused that to happen, but that Hashem’s mighty hand was shortened from saving them. This desecration of Hashem’s Name was the Jewish People’s fault. Hashem would only have pity on the Jews to take them out of exile for the sake of His holy Name, which the House of Israel desecrated amongst the nations by going there. Not because of their good deeds is Hashem going to take them out of exile, rather only for the sake of His holy Name. Hashem will intensify the holiness of His Great Name when He takes them out from amongst the nations, as His Name will be sanctified because they will say ‘He is mighty.’ For until then they were saying ‘His power is weakened because the Jews lived amongst them’ but when they see the Jews leaving them against their will with great force then the nations will say ‘Hashem’s hand is not weakened from saving them’ and the reason why He didn’t save them until then is because of their sins. But if He wants to save them, He has much power to do that. (Click here for Hebrew translation.)
Everyone knew the Jews would be in exile for 70 years. They were all counting down. Some miscalculated, others, as we see here, just didn’t think it possible that if Hashem is our loving father he would allow His beloved children to be swallowed up by the other nations; therefore it must be that Hashem is weak. But it would seem that deep down they did not believe in that possibility either, for if they really thought that it was true, then the conclusion they should have arrived at once the Jews returned to their homeland in power and glory was that Hashem regained His power? It must be that deep down they knew the entire time that Hashem is the Master of the Universe, All Powerful, All Knowing and All Controlling, nothing can stop Him and He will never weaken. They simply wanted to find some excuse to make up some fault in G-D, so that they could justify their way of life. But they always knew that the Jewish people were the chosen people, designated to share the light upon all the other nations, and that Hashem was The Almighty. 

If this is the case, then why were the Jews blamed for the chillul Hashem? The non-Jews out of their own free will decided to deny Hashem’s infinite power and claim He was weak!

Therefore we must say that, in truth, this is the responsibility of being the Chosen Nation, Hashem’s children, a light to all the other nations, a priestly nation. Because we are prince and princesses of the Almighty King of all Kings, not only do we have advantages but we have a greater responsibility to make sure there is always a Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of Hashem’s holy Name. We are the ambassadors of Hashem; therefore even the slightest connotation of a chillul Hashem that could be connected to us is our responsibility. For that reason all the good deeds of the ones in the Babylonian exile, the Kiddush Hashem of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, the Rabbis who walked out alive from the fiery furnace, and the Purim story were not what returned them back to Israel, but rather the Kiddush Hashem of sending the message that the nations can’t fool themselves to thinking that Hashem is weak, is what brought the Jewish people back to Israel.