Whoever touches the corpse of any human being shall be contaminated for seven days. He shall purify himself with it on the third day and on the seventh day he will become pure.

When a sinner desires to return to Hashem and re-pent, and contemplates how much harm he has caused to his body and neshomoh, and what harm he has caused to the upper spheres and to this world, he completely regrets what he has done and his heart aches terribly about his rebelling against HaKodosh Boruch Hu. In order to erase his sins: First he should study Torah leshem Hashem, only for the sake of Hashem without any ulterior motives… When a person truly clings to Torah study he is clinging to Hashem too. By doing so, he is under the dominion of HaKodosh Boruch Hu and even heals him and saves him from death.The second thing is to meticuously observe Shabbos in all its details. “Hashem forgives anyone who ob-serves Shabbos according to its halochos even if he has worshiped avodah zoroh as in the generation of Enosh” (Shabbos 118b). This is because the radiance of Hashem’s kedushah on Shabbos is infinite. Since that radiance is so magnificent no external powers of tumah can become attached to it, therefore all of his sins become annulled. The Torah together with Shabbos Kodesh will cure the sinner’s nefesh so that he won’t perish because of his sins.

The second thing is to meticuously observe Shabbos in all its details. “Hashem forgives anyone who ob-serves Shabbos according to its halochos even if he has worshiped avodah zoroh as in the generation of Enosh” (Shabbos 118b). This is because the radiance of Hashem’s kedushah on Shabbos is infinite. Since that radiance is so magnificent no external powers of tumah can become attached to it, therefore all of his sins become annulled. The Torah together with Shabbos Kodesh will cure the sinner’s nefesh so that he won’t perish because of his sins.

“Whoever touches the corpse of any human being”–’a corpse’ alludes to a sinner, as Chazal (Berochos 18b) write, “Even when alive, resho’im are regarded as corpses.” The Torah is telling us that, even when a person has the status of a corpse and therefore “shall be contami-nated for seven days”–someone who harms the Heaven above and causes harm to the seven higher middos (see there at length), then, “He shall purify himself with it on the third day”–through Torah which is called the “triple Torah” (Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim—see Rashi, Shabbos 88a) and “on the seventh day he will become pure”–through observing Shabbos Kodesh.If a person will be careful in the above two matters, he will surely become tohor, and from this one can also infer the opposite: if a person does not purify himself through Torah study and shemiras Shabbos, he will never be capable of completely purifying himself.

[Beer Mayim Chayim]


Let us pass through your land…we shall not veer right or left…The king of Edom said to him, `You shall not pass through me…and Yisroel turned away from near him.

“A person should always engage in performing mitzvos in a manner that is shelo lishmoh (with ulterior motives), since eventually he will perform them lishmoh” (Pesochim 50b). This saying of Chazal can be explained based on an explanation to a posuk that I heard from my mentor, the Holy Baal Shem Tov. “I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies” (Tehillim119:59). If, for example, a person wants to wake up at midnight to study Torah, the yetzer hora will deter him and won’t allow him to perform this mitzvah. It is advisable to awaken in order to take care of some personal matter, something that has some connection with the yetzer hora[and that is, “I considered my ways”], and afterward: “And returned my feet to Your testimonies”—to engage oneself in the mitzvah. This is true with all matters of ruchniyus.“Length of days is at its right; at its left, wealth and honor” (Mishlei 3:16). When one engages in Torah prop-erly he is zocheh to “length of days” and “wealth and honor” (see Shabbos 63a). This is the type of lo lishmoh(ulterior motives) that one should always keep in mind.Moshe sent to the King of Edom, who symbolizes the yetzer hora (Zohar Chodosh 58 24:4). “Let us pass through your land”–we are requesting the yetzer hora to allow us pass through his land that is the Olam HaZeh, the portion of Esav (Tanna DeVei Eliyahu Zuta, ch. 19), in order to worship Hashem. “We shall not veer right or left”–not to “length of days” that is at its right and not to “wealth and honor” that is at its left. We will only worship Hashem because it is a gezeirah of HaKodosh Boruch Hu, our King.The King of Edom answered: “You shall not pass through me lest I come against you with the sword.” If your initial intent would also have been for the benefit of the yetzer hora, either to its right or its left, then I would let you pass, but since now you want to pass through performing mitzvos only leshem Shomayim not only will I prevent you but I will also wage war against you. “And Yisroel turned away from near him”–they learned mussarfrom this that in one’s initial avodas Hashem one should engage in Torah and mitzvosshelo lishmoh and only afterward perform them lishmoh.

[Toldos Yaakov Yosef]


Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Make yourself (lecho) a sorof and place it on a pole.

Wherever it is written lecho it means “for your ben-efit” as in parshas Lech Lecho (see Rashi, Bereishis12:1). Why did Moshe make the serpent? It seems that Moshe feared the snakes since he thought that since Hashem gave permission to cause destruction there will be no distinction made between a tzaddik and a rosho(Bova Kamma 60a). HaKodosh Boruch Hu knew what Moshe Rabbeinu was thinking so he told him: “Make lecho.”Why didn’t HaKodosh Boruch Hu tell him explic-itly, “Make yourself a serpent” and instead said a sorof(something fiery)? Hashem did so in honor of Moshe. When Hashem revealed Himself to Moshe at the burn-ing bush and Moshe hesitated if to accept this mission,“He cast it on ground and it became a snake. Moshe fled from it.” (Shemos 4:3). When he didn’t immediately cir-cumcise his son a snake was sent to swallow him. In this parshah HaKodosh Boruch Hu alsosent snakes. There-fore Hashem told him: “Make yourself a sorof” so as not to mention his sin and not frighten him, and Moshe knew that Hashem used the word sorof and not the word nochosh, because of Moshe’s honor.

[Rabbeinu Elezer of Garmiza]