Parshas Cow by Michael Winner/3/24/2022 As many of you might have heard, one of the greatest scholars of the generation, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, passed away late last week. His funeral, attended by around (I heard) 500-600,000 people, was held in Bnei Brak on Sunday. My 13-year-old son went to participate, while I stayed home nursing a stomach virus.While he was there, he saw a lot of people going around collecting tzedakah, either for themselves or others, and of course, being an Israeli thought, "Hey! What a great idea." So, he took some change in his hand and walked around with his hand open shaking the change. He didn't say he was collecting tzedakah, he simply walked around like this. He proudly collected four whole shekels.When he told me the story, I laughed and told him how proud I was at his quick-thinking, but then I had to break it to him, that he has to give it to tzedakah, or he just did a big aveirah of stealing from other people. His eyes went wide on that, clearly not realizing what he did wrong. When I explained the issue, he realized the situation and immediately gave it to the shul.I must admit, I was impressed with him, on both his great idea on making money and his ability to understand and correct what he did wrong.This Shabbos represents the beginning of preparations for Pesach and a new year of opportunities. As we know, this Shabbos, the one before the month of Nissan begins, is called Parshas Parah (or "Parshas Cow"). After the regular Torah reading, we read the parsha dealing with the famed "Red Heifer" or "Red Cow," which, when slaughtered and burned complete, the ashes, mixed with water will purify anybody who has been (spiritually) contaminated by being with a corpse. Now, if you are thinking, "that makes no sense," don't worry, others greater than we, such as Shlomo HaMelech could not understand it either. It's one of those things we simply cannot understand, but something that the Torah says explicitly.While we don't understand how it works, we do know it DOES work, and we still have an obligation to learn from it.As mentioned, we are about to embark on a new year of growth, which officially starts with Pesach and will end next Purim. But before that, we need some preparation. Just as in the time of the Beis HaMikdash we needed to purify ourselves with the ashes of this Red Heifer in order to enter the Beis HaMikdash to bring our Korbon Pesach, so too, today we need to purify ourselves before Pesach.So, how do we do this?Rav Shimshon Pincus provides an excellent idea. And I would like to take this moment to thank the Seif family. It was they who gave me this book as a parting gift when I moved from Chicago many moons ago, and every year, I get to use it at this time.When a glass object breaks, but not completely, let's say it somehow developed a hole in it (Anybody who has kids knows that if anybody can find a way of doing something like that, they could.), we have two options to fix it. One, we melt another piece of glass on that hole to cover it up. Therefore, the glass object is now "workable." Not the prettiest, but it's workable. Or, we can completely melt down the object and rebuild it from scratch. Not only is it workable, but it will be better than if it was simply "patched up."In fact, we see this concept with Adam. When he sinned, he was punished with death. Why? Hashem was worried he would eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. So what if he lives forever? What is Hashem worried about? Obviously, nothing. But, death, when our bodies return to ashes, is a way of rebuilding ourselves from new. Because when there is a resurrection of the dead, those same ashes will be used to build the person anew. If we were to live forever, we would simply be filled with spiritual "patches."When a person wants a fresh start in life, he tends not to keep to the same habits he had before. He wants to turn over a new leaf and start anew. With Pesach, and a new year, around the corner, we too want to start anew. Therefore, like this cow, we need to take stock in our lives and see which areas need to be burned, not simply patched. We want to look at Pesach as a new morning where the previous "I" no longer exists. Rather, a new one has come into the world, ready to build a new creation over the next year.Have a wonderful Shabbos!