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Yalkut Reuveini: Parah

The 17th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Reuven Hoeshke of Prague, author of Yalkut Reuveni, an anthology of kabbalistic lore. He died on April 3, 1673.


“The Ark of God had been in the land of the Philistines for seven months. The Philistines called upon the priests and the sorcerers, saying, “What shall we do about the Ark of God? Inform us how we should send it back to its place!”

They replied, “If you were sending back the Ark of God of Israel, you must not send it back empty-handed, but you must certainly send back a guilt offering to Him. Then you will be healed, and you will realize why His hand would not turn away from against you.”

So they said, “What is the guilt offering that we should send back to Him?” They answered, “According to the number of Philistine governors, five golden hemorrhoids and five golden mice; for the same plague is upon all of you and upon your governors. Make your images of hemorrhoids and your images of mice, which are demolishing the country, and give them as a homage to God of Israel; perhaps He will alleviate His hand from upon you and your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as Egypt and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? Did it not happen that when He mocked them they had to send Israel forth, and they left? So now, take materials and make one new wagon, and take two nursing cows upon whom a yoke was never placed, and tie the cows to the wagon, and send their calves back home from behind them. Then take the Ark of God and place it onto the wagon and put the golden objects that you are sending back to Him as a guilt offering in a box at its side. Send it forth and it will go. Then you will see: if it ascends by the road to its boundary, towards Beit Shemesh, then it was He Who brought upon us all this great evil; but if not, we will know that Is and did not afflict us, but it was all by chance that this befell us.”

The man did so, they took to nursing cows and tied them to the wagon, and secured their calves at home. They placed the Ark of God onto the wagon, along with the box and the golden mice, and their images of hemorrhoids. The cow was set out on the direct road, on the road to Beit Shemesh, on a single road did they go, lowing as they went, and they did not veer right or left. The governors of the Philistines went behind them until the border of Beit Shemesh.

The people of Beit Shemesh were reaping the wheat harvest in the Valley, when they raised their eyes and saw the Ark, and they rejoiced to see it. The wagon came to the field of Joshua, of Beit Shemesh, and stop there, where there was a large rock. They chopped the boards of the wagon, and offered up the cows as in elevation offering to God. (I Samuel, 6:1-14)

The cows that led this wagon, separated from their calves, represent the Parah Adumah, and the connection between a cow and its calf. The merit of the Parah is what stirred this great miracle. The Philistines witnessed the mysterious power of God in their punishment, and in the miracle of the Ark’s return, just as we witness God’s mysterious power in the Parah Adumah. One with understanding will understand. (Yalkut Reuveini – Chukat)

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