Whatever It Takes
By Rabbi Yerachmiel Lichtman
In this week's Parsha we have the episode of a group of Jews who were unable to perform the mitzvah of the korbon pesach on time because they were tamai nefesh (impure through contact with a dead person). The Gemarah in Succah (25a) explains that these were the Jews who were carrying the aron (coffin) of Yosef Hatzadik from Mitzrayim. Out of a great desire to fulfill this mitzvah, they appealed to Moshe Rabbeinu for help. They were distraught at the possibility of having to forgo this mitzvah as a result of their being in a state of impurity. Rashi further explains that these individuals were requesting that although they themselves were barred from physically bringing the korban, Moshe should at least allow the Kohanim to throw the blood on the mizba'ach and eat the korban on their behalf.
Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l in his Sefer Darash Moshe, asks: what was to be gained by implementing the above solution; doesn't the Gemarah in Pesachim (61a) teach us that a Korban Pesach that is sacrificed on behalf of someone who is impure is rendered unfit? If so what was their intent?
Rav Moshe answers that these people are teaching us a timeless lesson. This group, because of their tremendous love for Hashem's mitzvos, wanted to do whatever was possible. Even if they were not able to fulfill the necessary requirement, they still desired to remain connected and involved. We can now possibly understand why Hashem eventually gave them a "second chance," because they possessed a strong will and desire to be connected to this mitzvah. In truth this is a lesson for everyone.
A practical example of this says Rav Moshe, is if someone cannot eat a full kezayis of maror on Pesach night, he should attempt at least to eat a little bit so as to feel connected to the mitzvah of Hashem. Similarly, we find that one who is unable to sit in a Succah, should see to it that he at least builds a Succah to demonstrate how much he loves to serve his Creator.
This lesson was taught to us throughout the history of the Jewish People. In recent times, during the Holocaust, dozens of stories are told of the self-sacrifice demonstrated by Jews in the camps just to fulfill a mitzvah, or even part a mitzvah. Using a candle made out of a potato peel to light the Menorah for only one night of Chanukah, or wearing part of a pair of Tefillin for a moment, or acquiring flour before Pesach in order to have a small taste of Matzoh, are just some of the many examples.
With the above we can understand the blessing bestowed upon a child at his brismilah. "Just as he entered the covenant, so too, may he enter Torah, Chupa, & good deeds." One can ask: If part of the objective of learning Torah is to lead one to good deeds, aren't words "good deeds" superfluous?
Rav Moshe answers that our blessing to the young child is that in addition to the actual "good deeds" that he will eventually perform, we also bless him that he should have a love for Hashem's mitzvos and do whatever he can to be involved and connected to them at all times and under all circumstances.