Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
The Torah gives us an opportunity to make up the Passover offering if couldn't perform it because either we were ritually defiled through contact / encounter with a corpse or because we were too distant from the Temple to be there in time for slaughtering the sacrifice.
The Talmud describes this distance as being a half-day journey from the Temple (Pesachim 93a).
Now, the Torah requires males to present themselves in the Temple three times each year. These are the three pilgrimage festivals: Pesach, Shavuos, and Succos. The Torah provides no opportunity for making them up.
Furthermore, there doesn't appear to be any accommodation because of distance. The Mishnah says that some people lived a travel distance of fifteen days away and faithfully made the journey (Taanis 10).
The guidelines for the pilgrimage festivals appears to be entirely different from the Passover offering, which provides an accommodation for someone that was only a half-day away.
The Chasam Sofer suggests the following message for this difference.
By the time the Jewish people reached the promised land and began celebrating the pilgrimage festivals they had overcome many challenges. By then they developed an intense relationship with G-D. This feeling of closeness helped create the expectation that we would continually reunite in the Temple no matter how far away we lived. It also reduced the impact of the geographic distance between home and the Temple. This relationship energized us to travel great distances to be with G-D, so to speak.
However, in Egypt, the Jewish people felt remote. Many lost the connection of circumcision. Furthermore, extreme hardships pushed many into idol worship. Being in such dire spiritual straits we lacked confidence and energy.
In the merit of our extending ourselves to slaughter the Passover lamb, which was also Egypt's god, and in the merit of our mass circumcision, G-D had mercy and it was He who bridged the remaining distance between us.
The accommodations for the Passover offering serve to remind us of the great kindness that G-D bestowed upon us when He took us out from Egypt.
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