RABBI WAGENSBERG ON PARSHAS CHUKAS
5 Tammuz, 5780; June 27, 2020
Parshas Chukas begins with the mitzva of the Para Aduma (a red cow) whose ashes are used to purify people who became spiritually contaminated by coming into contact with a corpse (19:1-22).
The Tanchuma (Chukas, #8, Rebbi Acha in the name of Rebbi Yosi bar Chanina) tells us that when Moshe Rabbenu went On High to receive the Torah, he overheard Hashem say, “The halacha is like My son Rebbi Eliezer who says that a Para Aduma is kosher to be used when it is two years old (see Meseches Para, chap. 1, “Rebbi Eliezer”, Mishna 1).
Moshe asked Hashem why He felt it necessary to quote the opinion of a mere mortal of flesh and blood. Hashem responded by saying that a great tzaddik will be born, his name will be Rebbi Eliezer, and he will open the topic of Para Aduma by saying that it is kosher at the age of two. Since he will be such a tzaddik, it is important to say the halacha over in his name.
When Moshe heard that, he asked for Hashem to arrange that Rebbi Eliezer become one of his (Moshe’s) descendants. Hashem promised Moshe that Rebbi Eliezer would indeed become one of his descendants. A support to this is found in the verse, “And the name of one of them (one of Moshe Rabbenu’s sons) was Eliezer” (Parshas Yisro, 18:4). The name of Moshe’s son Eliezer points to another Eliezer who became known as Rebbi Eliezer ben Hurkones.
Once we have established that Rebbi Eliezer was a descendant of Moshe Rabbenu, we will appreciate why the Oral Law begins in a specific way.
The very first Mishna in Shas (Shisha Sidrei, the Six Orders of Mishna) begins with the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer who tells us the time within which a person must recite the evening Shema (Berachos, chap. 1, “M’eymasai”, Mishna 1, pg. 2a).
The Tzlach (Tzion L’nefesh Chaya, Berachos, ibid, Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, 1713 Poland – 1793, Czech) says that the reason why Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi opened the first Mishna of Shas with the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer was because Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi knew that Rebbi Eliezer was a descendant of Moshe Rabbenu, and Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi wanted to give Moshe Rabbenu nachas that one of his descendants kicked-off Torah Sheba’al Peh.
All of this information raises a few questions.
First of all, how could Hashem paskin like Rebbi Eliezer that a Para Aduma is kosher from the age of two, if the Chachamim of that very same Mishna disagree with him and instead maintain that a Para Aduma is kosher only if it is at least three years old?
Rambam (Para Aduma, 1:1) paskins like the Chachamim, and rightfully so, because of the teaching that says that whenever a single opinion disagrees with the majority, the law is like the majority (Berachos, chap. 1, M”eimasai”, pg. 9a). If so, how could Hashem decide that the law is like the single opinion of Rebbi Eliezer?
Moreover, how do we see from the verse, “And the name of one (of Moshe Rabbenu’s sons) was Eliezer,” that Moshe also had a descendant who was Rebbi Eliezer? What does Moshe’s son Eliezer have to do with Moshe’s descendant Rebbi Eliezer? Just because Moshe’s son was named Eliezer, it does not necessarily mean that he would have a descendant named Rebbi Eliezer. So, how could the Tanchuma use this verse as proof that indeed Rebbi Eliezer descended from Moshe Rabbenu?
Additionally, what was so special about Rebbi Eliezer that Moshe desired that he would descend from him? There have been many great Tannaic Sages such as Rashb”I, Rebbi Akiva, and Rebbi Meir to name just a few. What was it about Rebbi Eliezer that interested Moshe Rabbenu so much that Moshe wanted him to be one of his descendants?
Finally, we find the name Eliezer appear in just two stories in the Chumash. Once by Eliezer the servant of Avraham Avinu, and the second time by Eliezer the son of Moshe Rabbenu. If there is some sort of connection between these two Eliezers, what is it?
Let us begin by sharing an uplifting message hidden within the name Eliezer.
When Avraham Avinu went to battle the four kings, he took 318 men along with him (Parshas Lech Lecha, 14:14). Rashi (ibid) cites the Gemara (Nedarim, chap. 3, “Arba’a Nedarim”, pg. 32a, Ikka D’amri) which says that Avraham may not have brought 318 men with him but rather he may have only brought his servant Eliezer with him.
The number 318, which is mentioned explicitly in the verse, does not contradict this because the name Eliezer is numerically 318. As such, when the verse mentioned the number 318, it was hinting at Eliezer whose numerical value equals 318.
Rav Tzaddok Hakohen from Lublin (1823-1900, Poland, in Divrei Sofrim, #16) says that the reason why it is important to know that there were either 318 men, or Eliezer whose gematria is 318, is to teach us that a person should never lose hope. We see this lesson from the number 318 because the word in Hebrew for “loss of hope” is “yeush,” and the word “yeush” is numerically 317.
Therefore, the number 318 (Eliezer) is one digit above 317 (yeush). Therefore, the name Eliezer (318) teaches us that we must always try to overcome the natural tendency of yeush (317). The extra digit of Eliezer (318) teaches us that we should always try to get above loss of hope and yank ourselves out of the gravitational pull of yeush (317) and always strive to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of yeush.
This is precisely why Avraham took 318 men with him, or Eliezer whose name has the gematria of 318. It is because Avraham was trying to convey the message that even though he was few in number, and it would be natural to give up hope against four powerful kingdoms, still, he would never fall into the trap of yeush (317). Avraham placed his hope in Hashem by trusting in Hashem, and in that merit alone he defeated the four kings.
Rav Tzaddok continues by saying that the Jewish people were built upon this message of never losing hope. Avraham was 99 years old (Parshas Lech Lecha, 17:17-24) and Sarah was barren (Parshas Noach, 11:30) besides being elderly herself. The natural thing to do at that point would be to give up hope of ever having a child.
Yet, Avraham and Sara held on to their belief in Hashem’s promise that they would have a child (Parshas Lech Lecha, 15:6). In the merit of never losing hope, they deserved to have a Yitzchak from whom the Jewish people flourished.
Chizkiyahu Hamelech taught this lesson to Yeshaya Hanavi when he said, “Even if the sharp sword is placed upon a person’s neck, one should never refrain from asking Hashem for mercy, because the salvation from God can happen in the bat of an eyelash” (Berachos, chap. 1, “M’eimasai”, pg. 10a, Rebbi Yochanan, Rebbi Eliezer, Rebbi Elazar).
It turns out that the name “Eliezer” (318) teaches us about overcoming the natural tendency of “yeush” (317). This explains why Moshe named one of his boys Eliezer. Moshe said that the name Eliezer signifies, “My God saved me from the sword of Pharaoh” (Parshas Yisro, 18:4). We can see this from the name Eliezer because the name Eliezer can be broken down into two words. The first word is “Keili” (my God). The second word is “Azar” (rescued). When you put that together it means that, “
me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
Rashi (ibid) cites the Devarim Rabba (Parshas Vaeschanan, 2:27; Rebbi Yanai) who says that when Dasan and Aviram snitched on Moshe for having killed an Egyptian soldier for attempting to murder a Jewish slave, Pharaoh sent a dispatch of Egyptian police officers to apprehend Moshe. They did, and Pharaoh sentenced Moshe to death because of the capital offence of murder.
Moshe was led onto a stage and his head was placed on the chopping block. Just as the executioner was about to swing his axe down and cut off Moshe Rabbenu’s head, Moshe’s neck miraculously became as hard as marble. The axe bounced off Moshe’s neck, ricocheted, and split the executioner’s head into two. The other guards around became blind and deaf. Moshe walked off the stage unscathed and relocated himself to Midyan.
Rav Tzadok says that we see from this story that the sharp sword was placed upon the neck of Moshe. The natural thing to do would be to lose hope. However, Moshe refused to give up hope. In the merit of his hoping to God for a salvation, a miracle occurred which saved his life.
This is why Moshe named his son Eliezer. It is because that name means the Keili (my God) azar (rescued) me from the sword of Pharaoh. Moshe wanted to convey the message that since he never gave up hope in Hashem, a miracle occurred which saved his life.
We are going to see how overcoming loss of hope also helped Eliezer Eved Avraham.
The Gemara (Berachos, chap. 1, “M’eimasai”, pg. 7b, Rebbi Elazar) tells us that a person’s Jewish name causes him to have certain strengths and qualities (see Tehillim, 46:9). Therefore, the Shvilei Pinchas adds that Avraham was the one to give his faithful servant his name Eliezer.
We know this because Avraham circumcised all of his servants, just as Hashem commanded him to do (Parshas Lech Lecha, 17:12, Rashi ibid), and during a circumcision it is baby naming time. So, Avraham circumcised his faithful servant and named him Eliezer.
The reason why Avraham chose the name Eliezer for his faithful servant was because Avraham already saw prophetically that Eliezer would need that name to draw from so that he would not fall into the trap of yeush.
Avraham’s concern came to pass when he (Avraham) appointed Eliezer to be the agent to bring back a soul-mate for Yitzchak. Eliezer had a daughter of his own and deep down hoped that Avraham would ask him (Eliezer) to give his (Eliezer’s) daughter’s hand in marriage to Yitzchak.
Once Avraham got wind of the fact that this was Eliezer’s dream, Avraham told him that this could never happen because Eliezer was cursed, whereas Avraham was blessed, and one cannot mix cursed with blessed (Rashi, Parshas Chayei Sara, 24:39; based on Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Chayei Sara, 29:9).
Eliezer was cursed because he was a descendant of Canaan (The son of Cham. Cham was the son of Noach). According to some (Rebbi Nechemia, Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Noach, 36:7), it was Cana’an who looked at his grandfather’s nakedness when Noach was drunk. Cana’an either castrated Noach or sodomized him.
When Noach sobered up and realized what Cana’an had done to him, he cursed Cana’an by saying that Cana’an would be a “Slave of slaves to his brothers” (Parshas Noach, 9:25).
Avraham, on the other hand, was blessed because he descended from Shem who was blessed by Noach (Parshas Noach, 9:26).
Eliezer desperately wanted to shed his title of being cursed, and instead, he wanted to enter into a title of being blessed. Eliezer thought that if his daughter would marry into the family of Avraham, maybe he would shift from a cursed ancestry to a blessed one. Avraham told him flatly that this could never happen.
That must have hurt Eliezer. Imagine the tzaddik hador telling you that it’s all over. The natural thing to do would be to give up hope. However, Eliezer would simply not take no for answer. This is because he drew from his name Eliezer (318) which helped him overcome the natural tendency of yeush (317). This was the challenge that Avraham foresaw. This is why he named him Eliezer to begin with.
In the end, Eliezer did leave his old status of cursed and entered into the status of blessed as Lavan said to Eliezer, “Come o’
of Hashem” (Parshas Chayei Sara, 24:31). The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Chayei Sara, 60:7; Rebbi Yosi b’Rebbi Dosa) says that from this verse we learn that Eliezer finally became blessed.
Now that we have established that the name Eliezer represents overcoming loss of hope, let us see why this name was so fitting for Rebbi Eliezer ben Hurkones.
In Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer (chap. 1), it tells us about Rebbi Eliezer when he was a young man. Eliezer’s father, Hurkones, was a farmer with a number of workers who worked under him. Their job was to plow the fields. One day, Hurkones looked out over his fields and saw his son Eliezer sitting and crying. Hurkones ran over to him and said, “Oh, you must be crying because you have been given the job of plowing hard ground while others are plowing soft ground. Do not worry, I will switch it around so that you will plow the soft ground.”
After the switch had been made, Hurkones noticed that Eliezer was still sitting and crying. His father ran to him and asked, “Are you crying because I gave you soft ground to plow?” Eliezer said, “No.” “Then why are you crying, my son?” Eliezer said, “Because I do not want to plow fields, I want to learn Torah.”
Hurkones said, “That is very nice, but you are already 28 years old. It is somewhat late for you to begin learning Torah. I have an idea. Why not find a wife for yourself, get married, have children, and send them to learn Torah? You’ll have plenty of money from your work as a farmer to support your family and pay for their education.”
Eliezer was not satisfied with that suggestion. So, for the next two weeks he sat, fasted, and cried. After two weeks, Eliyahu Hanavi appeared to him and asked, “Why are you crying?” Eliezer said, “Because I want to learn Torah.” Eliyahu said, “Well, if you want to learn Torah, go to Yerushalayim and study under Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai.”
Eliezer left home, went to Yerushalayim, entered into the academy of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, sat down in the back of the room, and started to cry. Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakai rushed over to him and asked, “My child, why do you cry?” Eliezer said, “Because I want to study Torah.” Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakai asked, “Who is your father?” Eliezer did not want to respond. “Never mind,” said Rebbi Yochanan. “Do you know how to recite the Shema? Do you know how to daven Shmoneh Esrei? Do you know how to Bentch?”
Eliezer said, “No, I do not.” “Not to worry,” said Rebbi Yochanan. “I will teach you the Shema, Shmoneh Esrei, and Bentching.” But again, Eliezer began to cry. Rebbi Yochanan asked, “Why do you cry? I promised to teach you how to say Shema and daven.” “Because,” said Eliezer, “I do not just want to know how to say Shema and daven, I want to learn Torah.”
“OK,” said Rebbi Yochanan. I will teach you two halachos a week, and you must delve into them all week long.” That is precisely what happened. So diligent was Eliezer that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai said to him, “One day Chukei Torah (Torah statutes; a mitzva that Hahsem gave but withheld from us the logical reasoning behind it) will flow from your mouth.” Eventually, he became the famous Rebbi Eliezer.
Perhaps we could make an observation. Rebbi Yochanan said that one day Eliezer would teach “Chukei Torah.” It is interesting that Rebbi Eliezer was the one to begin teaching that a Para Aduma is kosher to be used when it becomes two years old. Para Aduma is the paradigm example of a Chok. Rebbi Yochanan’s words came to fruition. Chukei Torah did indeed flow from the mouth of Rebbi Eliezer.
The Shvilei Pinchas says that we see from this story that Rebbi Eliezer started out later in life as one who was completely ignorant of Torah. The natural thing to do would have been to give up hope of ever surmounting to anything, let alone becoming one of the greatest Sages of Israel. Yet, he did not lose hope. Instead, he persevered.
Hashem had orchestrated that he was called Eliezer at his bris so that he could draw from the power of that name which is one notch above yeush. This name would help him break away from the gravitational pull of yeush.
Perhaps we could add that his being 28 years old when he started is in and of itself a lesson. The number 28 is written with the letters chaf and ches, which spell the word “koach” (strength). This teaches us that he had the
to overcome the natural tendency of yeush (317) because he drew from his name Eliezer (318).
Now we can start to tie all of this back into the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer who said that a Para Aduma is kosher to be used when it is two years old. This will become clear when we examine the words of Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan (11
cent. France) quoted in Rashi (Parshas Chukas, 19:22).
Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan says that the Para Aduma atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf. This can be understood through the following comparison.
Once upon a time, a maidservant had an infant son who crawled onto the royal red carpet of his majesty the king without a diaper on, and soiled the carpet. Everybody said the mother should come and clean up the excrement of her son.
Similarly, the Para Aduma, which is a mother cow, should come and clean up the spiritual excrement that was created by her son, the Eigel (calf), when the Jewish people sinned with the Golden Calf.
The Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762-1839, Frankfurt; Derashos, vol. 1, pg. 208), points out that this teaching from Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan only works according to the Chachamim who hold that a Para Aduma must be three years old, because a cow can only begin to have offspring when it is at least three years old (Bechoros, chap. 3, “Halokeach Beheimah”, Mishna 1, pg. 19b). Only then can we say that the
(Para Aduma) should clean up her
(Eigel’s) mess, because only when the cow reaches three years old is it capable of having offspring.
However, according to Rebbi Eliezer who holds that a Para Aduma is kosher already from the age of two, this teaching of Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan will not work. This is because a two-year-old cow is incapable of having offspring. How then can we say that the
(Para Aduma) should clean up her
(Eigel’s) mess if this cow is not capable of bearing offspring at that time?
So, according to Rebbi Eliezer, how does the teaching of Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan work? In other words, how does the Para Aduma (mother) atone for the sin of the Eigel (son) if it (the Para Aduma) is not yet capable of being a mother?
The Shvilei Pinchas answers this by saying that according to Rebbi Eliezer we must conclude that there was no sin with the Eigel. Therefore, there was no mess to clean up. Therefore, there is no need for a mother to clean up her son’s mess. A two-year-old cow points us in this direction because it is incapable of bearing offspring. So, it must be that there was never any mess to clean up in the first place.
You might be wondering, “How can we say there was no sin of the Golden Calf if there is a story in the Torah called the Chet Haeigel?”
The answer is that the
never sinned with the Golden Calf on their own. This is because the Jews were in such control of their Yetzer Hara that they could never have committed such a serious crime. Rather,
decreed that the Jewish people sin with the Calf. In other words, Hashem made them do it. For a short moment, Hashem robbed them of their free will. Hashem was like a puppeteer, and we were the puppets. Hashem pulled the strings, and forced us into doing the Golden calf (Avoda Zara, chap. 1, “Lifnei Eideyhen”, pg. 4b, Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi; Rashi ibid).
You might be wondering, “Why would Hashem do such a thing?” The Gemara says that this was meant to teach future generations that one can always do teshuva, no matter what. For example, should a person tell you today that he could never repent because he has been guilty of such terrible crimes that, by now, God must be so disgusted with him that He wants nothing to do with him, you tell him that he is no worse that the Jews who sinned with the Golden Calf.
This is because those Jews witnessed plagues, Keriyas Yam Suf, Manna, water coming out of a rock, Clouds of Glory, and revelation at Sinai. Those Jews were on one of the loftiest spiritual levels imaginable for mankind.
Then, they sunk to the lowest of the low with idolatry, which is a cardinal sin. Hashem was disappointed with them, but they repented, and Hashem forgave them. Therefore, tell this person that even if he was guilty of crimes as bad as that of the Golden Calf, he can most certainly do teshuva because he was never exposed to such miracles and he was never on such a lofty spiritual level to begin with. Therefore, if their teshuva was accepted, certainly his teshuva would be accepted.
Therefore, when Rebbi Eliezer ruled that a Para Aduma is kosher already at two years old, since it cannot bear offspring at that age, it must be that there was no spiritual excrement to clean up, in so far as the Jewish people themselves were concerned. So, what then is the message of the Para Aduma? How is it related to the Chet Haeigel (as Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan claims)?
It must be that this two-year-old cow is telling us that something else was going on by the Chet Haeigel. That something else was that God forced them into it just in order to teach us that one can always do teshuva, even for idolatry which is one of the worst sins a person can commit.
This message is very fitting for Rebbi Eliezer because, once again, the point is that one should never fall into the trap of yeush thinking that he sinned so much that he is beyond the point of return. Although losing hope might be the natural propensity, Rebbi Eliezer (318) is teaching us never to go down that path of yeush (317).
The Shvilei Pinchas says that this explains why Hashem ruled like Rebbi Eliezer that a two-year-old cow may be used for a Para Aduma, even though it went against the consensus of the other Chachamim who say that it must be three years old. It is because according to Rebbi Eliezer there was no sin of the child (eigel). The children (Jewish people) did not sin on their own. It was Hashem Who orchestrated the entire event. Hashem paskined like Rebbi Eliezer because that is precisely what happened!
However, Rambam paskined like the Chachamim because in this world we must behave as though there was a sin of the Golden Calf. We must act as though there was a need for a
(Para Aduma) to clean up the mess of her
(Eigel). Otherwise, how would we ever learn that teshuva is accepted no matter what. So, we have to go through the motions and behave as though there really was a sin.
However, in heaven they paskin like Rebbi Eliezer which tells us that there was no sin from the Jewish people’s perspective. Rather, the entire incident was staged to teach us a lesson that Hashem will always accept our teshuva, no matter what. This is Rebbi Elizer’s (318) message, never fall into the trap of yeush (317).
The Shvilei Pinchas says that now we can also understand why Moshe Rabbenu desired that specifically Rebbi Eliezer would be one of his descendants. It is because Moshe Rabbenu was willing to sacrifice everything just so that the Jewish people would be forgiven for the Sin of the Golden Calf.
Moshe basically told Hashem that if Hashem would destroy the Jewish people because of the Chet Haeigel, he would perish with them. As captain of the ship, he would go down with his crew. Moshe said that he wanted nothing to do with God or with the Torah if Hashem would annihilate the Jewish people (Parshas Ki Sisa, 32:32).
Therefore, when Moshe overheard Hashem say that according to Rebbi Eliezer the Para Aduma is already kosher at two years old, Moshe understood that according to Rebbi Eliezer, there was no actual sin of the Golden Calf, because there is no mother (a two-year-old cow cannot bear offspring) to clean up her son’s (eigel’s) mess. Therefore, it must be that the whole sin of the Golden Calf was orchestrated by God to make a statement that teshuva will always be accepted.
Therefore, Moshe pined that Rebbi Eliezer would descend from him because Rebbi Eliezer’s opinion fits in perfectly with Moshe Rabbenu’s position. Moshe Rabbenu wanted to get the Jews off the hook with respect to the Golden Calf, and according to Rebbi Eliezer, the Jews were indeed off the hook because they did not do anything wrong on their own. Moshe Rabbenu wanted a descendant who would fit in with his (Moshe’s) greatest wish.
The Shvilei Pinchas says that this also explains the connection between Moshe’s son Eliezer to the Tanna Rebbi Eliezer. Moshe named his son Eliezer because Keili (my God) azar (rescued) him from Pharaoh’s sword. The miracle which occurred to Moshe that saved his life happened because Moshe kept hoping to God for a salvation, even at the bleakest moment. The name Eliezer (318) meant that Moshe never had yeush (317).
Therefore, just like the name of Moshe’s son Eliezer represented that Moshe was miraculously saved in the merit of never losing hope, similarly, Moshe also merited to have a descendant, Rebbi Eliezer, who also lived by that principal.
We see that Rebbi Eliezer lived by this principal because he did not give up hope of becoming one of the Chachmei Hamishna when he was an ignorant 28-year-old. We also see that Rebbi Eliezer held of this principal from his psak that a Para Aduma is kosher when it is just two years old.
Perhaps we could add that this is the connection between the two Eliezers in the Torah. They are both about not falling prey to yeush (317). Eliezer (318) Eved Avraham never let go of his dream to be blessed. As a result of that, he merited to become blessed.
So, it was with Moshe’s son’s name Eliezer (318), because that name demonstrates that Moshe never let himself fall victim to yeush (317) and in that merit he was saved.
The Shvilei Pinchas concludes by saying that many yeshiva students today struggle with their Torah learning. One reason for this is because it quickly becomes clear to them that the Torah is so vast that it is deeper than the ocean and wider that the Earth.
This can be overwhelming. A person could naturally say to himself that he will never amount to anything significant in Torah because there is just too much to learn. These students could give up before starting.
This is why it says, “A wise man’s heart leans to the right, while a fool’s heart leans to the left” (Koheles, 10:2). In Sefarim Hakedoshim we find an explanation of this verse. This is how it goes.
One can always differentiate between a wise disciple and a foolish student. A wise disciple always looks to the right of his Gemara to see what has already learned (Hebrew and Aramaic are read from right to left). His previous accomplishments encourage him to learn more. This is what it means when it says, “A wise man’s heart leans to the right.”
However, a foolish student always looks to the left of his Gemara to see all that he has not yet learned. Seeing just how much there is to accomplish crushes him. He gives up before even trying. This is what it meant when it says, “A fool’s heart leans to the left.”
However, when a person begins to learn Torah Sheba’al Peh from the beginning (Meseches Berachos), there are no pages to the right to look at for encouragement to achieve more. There are only unlearned pages to the left. What is one supposed to do so as not to fall into the trap of yeush?
This is another reason why Rebbi Yehuda Hanasi began all of Shas with the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer. When we see the name Eliezer, that alone should encourage us to trudge forward. This is because the name Eliezer is 318, one digit above yeush which is 317.
We are also supposed to draw chizuk from Rebbi Eliezer’s life. He never gave up hope and look what became of him. This should inspire us that we too can achieve greatness.
We are also meant to receive strength from Rebbi Eliezer’a psak that a Para Aduma is kosher at two years old. This tells us that the Jews never sinned and did not need a mother to clean up their mess. That teaches us that the whole Chet Haeigel was staged just to teach us that one should never have yeush about returning to God, because His hands (so to speak) are always open to receive us.
One practical application of this teaching could be that once a day, after davening, let us say three words. Those three words could be, “Eliezer Eved Avraham.” Or, those three words could be, “V’sheim Haechad Eliezer.” Or, those three words could be, “Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer.”
When we say those words, let us be reminded that Eliezer Eved Avraham never gave up hope. As a result of that he went from cursed to blessed.
When saying those words let us be reminded that Moshe Rabbenu never gave up hope even when the sharp sword was about to slice his head off. In that merit, he was saved miraculously.
When saying those words, let us be reminded that Rebbi Eliezer never gave up hope even though he began to learn at 28 as one who was completely ignorant of Torah. As a result of that he became one of the great Chachmei Hamishna.
What a way to start the day! We face so many challenges in life. Let us never give up hope. Rather let us place our hope in God to save us and make us succeed. In that merit alone we will hopefully succeed both physically and spiritually.
So, may we all be baruch 318 times over to follow in the footsteps of Eliezer Eved Avraham, and to follow in the footsteps of Moshe Rabbenu and Rebbi Eliezer, his descendant, to never lose hope in Hashem, and thus be saved from the sword and from any other type of danger, and as a result may we also be successful both physically and spiritually, and subsequently deserve to witness the coming of Moshiach when we will all be purified with a two-year-old Para Aduma in Eretz Yisrael.
Good Shabbos, Warmest wishes, Aba Wagensberg