I have read in many places that Parah could be a biblical requirement to read.

Why is that? Zachor makes sense (as it says so in the Torah here). Why Parah?

  • 6
    AmHaaretzGamurMideoraysa welcome to Judaism.SE and thank you for your question. I assume your user name is not a perfect reflection of your personality, but even so I look forward to seeing you around!
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 4:57
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    Of course Parshat Parah is "from the Torah". It is right there at the beginning of Chukat. (kidding)
    – Ze'ev
    Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 5:31

5 Answers 5


The Beit Yosef in OC 685 quotes Tosfot who says that Parashiyot Zachor and Parah are Biblical requirements. However, our versions of Tosfot do not have anywhere that Parah is Biblical. The Mishna Berura OC 685 sk 15 writes that most Achronim agree that Parah is not a Biblical requirement. So we really don't know what source Tosfot had in mind (assuming the Beit Yosef's version didn't have a scribal error, which is possible).

EDIT: The Aruch HaShulchan (OC 685:7) suggests the following possibility for the source. In Parashat Parah the pasuk says (Numbers 19:10):

וְהָיְתָה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכָם לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם
...and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.

The sifra derives from here that the ashes remain effective even nowadays without the Temple. However, later on the pasuk repeats (Numbers 19:21):

וְהָיְתָה לָהֶם לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם
And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them.

The Aruch HaShulchan posits that this extra occurrence of the phrase comes to teach that one should be involved even without the ashes by learning these verses which we do by reading them publicly once a year.

Again, this is all speculation because we don't have an original derivation (as I explained above).

  • Regarding Tosafos, see this answer. Apparently, the Maharshal elided Parah from that Tosafos (B'rachos 13a, s.v. בלשון הקדש נאמרה).
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 19:52

The Chazon Ish and/or Steipler Rav suggests that the obligation may stem from an interpretation of Vayikra 15:31 as a general instruction to the leadership to warn the nation about the rules of tum'a, which we deliberately accomplish once yearly by the public reading of Para.

  • This is consonant with the reason given by Rashi (M'gilla 30a, s.v. ha d'ikla', "אזהרת טמאים לפסח") for why Parah is read right before HaChodesh (echoed by Taz OC 685 "ואח"כ פ' פרה כי היכי דלהזכיר אזהרת טמאים לפסח", see also MB 685:1 "והיא בשבת שקודם פרשת החודש שכן היה שריפתה במדבר סמוך לניסן כדי להזות בה את ישראל באפר החטאת מיד אחר הקמת המשכן כדי שיהיו טהורים ויוכלו לעשות הפסח בזמנו").
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 19:26

I think that Tosfos in Berachos 13a is the source for where the idea of Parshas Parah being d'oraisa stemmed from.

If you look at the Tosfos below, you'll see that Tosfos lists the Torah portions that are d'oraisa, and only Parshas Zachor is mentioned:

enter image description here

However, earlier printed versions of Maseches Berachos have this same Tosfos who mentions Parshas Zachor AND Parshas Para:

enter image description here

I remember learning that this is the source for where the confusion stemmed from- ie whether Tosfos actually meant it, or whether it may have been a printer's error etc.

  • This point is indeed discussed by some acharonim. In any case, can you add which edition your image is from?
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:32
  • @Alex I found it via a Google search, can be seen in this thread. Seems to be from a "Vinnitsa printing press" and while old, not sure exactly how old it is forum.otzar.org/viewtopic.php?t=8774
    – alicht
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:28
  • Not Vinnitsa, but Venice. This is from Bomberg's edition of the 1520s.
    – Meir
    Commented Mar 27 at 13:55

Many years ago I heard that the basis for Parshas Parah being biblical is from this verse: זְכֹר אַל־תִּשְׁכַּח אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הִקְצַפְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמִּדְבָּר. Remember, don't forget how you angered your Lord in the desert. The Torah then goes on to talk about the sin of the golden calf. Now Rashi tells us that the Parah Adumah, the red heifer was to atone for the sin of the golden calf. So when we read about the red heifer before Pesach, we remember the sin of the golden calf and we remember how we angered the Lord in the desert. It was so long ago (over 50) that I don't have a source for this idea.

  • The Yalkut Yosef brings this answer as halakha.
    – 147zcbm
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 0:15

Emes L'Yaakov (Rb Yaakov Kaminetzky) links it to זְכֹר אַל־תִּשְׁכַּח אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הִקְצַפְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמִּדְבָּר. He proves that this possuk cannot be taking about the golden calf but rather about the episode at Marah in Parshas Beshalach where Moshe also taught about parah adumah.

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