Thursday, May 16, 2019

Parshas Emor Messages 5779

בּ״ה


Parshas Emor

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. . . these are they, My appointed times:  Six days you shall do work, and on the seventh day is a Shabbos of rest, a holy convocation’ (Vayikra 23:2-3)
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Hashem introduces to us that ‘these are My appointed times’ and then immediately after, it talks about. . . Shabbos.  This teaches us a wonderful thing: Although the Chagim (holidays) are very great and exciting times, we mustn’t forget about the wonderful gift -- Shabbos, that, by the kindness of Hashem, we get each and every week, ‘a taste of the World to Come’.  It too is a holiday in its own right.

(Tal U’Matar)

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And [on Shavuos] you shall bring a new Minchah-offering to Hashem.’ (Vayikra 23:16)
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Says the Kli Yakar: This alludes to the day of Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah), because the Torah needs to be new to a person every day, as if on that day they received it at Har Sinai.

Now, the Torah doesn’t mention that Shavuos is the day the Torah was given.  And similarly, it isn’t mentioned explicitly in the Torah that Rosh Hashanah is the Yom HaDin (Day of Judgement).  And the reason for both of these is the same:  For Matan Torah, Hashem didn’t want to limit it to a specific, known day, because it needs to be to a person like they received it every single day of the year.  For, truthfully, Chazal (Eruvin 54b) have said that the Torah is compared to a breast, because every time that a baby nurses from it, they find in it a new taste.  So too, the Torah: All who study the Torah find in it a “new taste” every day. Hence, it should be similar to a person as if they received it that day.  And by those who study it, every day actually is Matan Torah, so it isn’t proper to limit it’s giving to one specific day, known day.

And therefore, Chazal have said (Sifri) that words of Torah should be new to you and not like something old, which a person is tired of, because truthfully, you find a new thing in it every day.  Therefore, the day of Matan Torah is not told to us in the [Written] Torah more than what is alluded to in the bringing of a ‘new Mincha-offering’, to teach that the Torah is like a ‘new Minchah-offering’ every day.  

And this is also the reason for the concealing of the Yom HaDin aspect of Rosh Hashanah, so that a person won’t go “in the visions of their heart” and pile up aveiros all year, and think to just fix their actions when it is close to the Day of Hashem, when He sits on His Throne of Judgement. Rather, it should be to a person as if every day Hashem sits on His Throne for Judgement and examines His “book of accounting” -- as, indeed, one opinion in the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 16b) holds, that a person is judged every day -- and through this, every day will be in Teshuva. . .

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Not only are we currently holding in the time period of the Omer, this Parsha also talks about it:

The Chida {HaRav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai zt”l} writes in the name of Rabbeinu Efraim zt”l that ועשית חמישים לולאות, ‘And you shall make fifty hooks’ (Shemos 26:10) corresponds to the fifty days of Sefiras HaOmer.  Just as fifty hooks connected the sheets of the Mishkan, these fifty days connect us to our Father in Heaven.

(Lechem Min HaShamayim, Terumah 21;
brought in Torah Wellsprings)

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We are told that when Hashem led the Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, they were on the 49th level of tumah (ritual impurity).  And for the span of 49 days -- the time we now count, known as the Omer -- they went up in level every single day, until they were on the plain of Kedusha (holiness) ready to receive the Torah from Hashem (see Zohar Chadash, Yisro).

We can learn a valuable lesson from this:  How much can be accomplished -- how high we can go, in just one day.  If we would only try, and utilize our time wisely, there are immeasurable improvements we could make, with the Help of Hashem.

This special time, when we are ascending one number in our counting nightly, is a very good time to think about -- and try to take with us -- this wonderful realization.  

Hashem has given us the precious gift of time.  Who knows how much we can accomplish with it, B’Ezras Hashem. . .

(Tal U’Matar)

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|~Maaseh~|  A religious Jew was traveling to Eretz Yisroel, and found himself seated in the airplane next to a secular Jew who spoke bitterly about the Holocaust.  He spoke about how his parents, wife and children were all murdered, and he concluded that there could not possibly be a G-d if this is what happened to the world.  The religious Jew tried to change his companion’s perception of the Holocaust, but to no avail. After landing in Israel, they each went their separate ways.

The religious Jew was in Israel for the High Holidays.  On Yom Kippur, during the short recess after Shacharis, he took a walk around the block of the shul.  As he was walking, he noticed an obviously secular Jew walking on the other side of the street, carrying several packages. It pained him to see someone desecrate Yom Kippur.  And then he suddenly recognized the person as his flight companion.

He went across the street and greeted the non-religious Jew. “We are about to say Yizkor (the prayer recited in memory of the deceased on certain occasions) in shul,” he explained. “Won’t you do this much for the departed souls of your dear parents, wife and children?  Won’t you come inside and say Yizkor in their memory?”

At first the non-religious Jew refused to hear of it, but it wasn’t long before he conceded.  As he entered the shul, the friendly gabbai welcomed him warmly and patiently helped him through the Yizkor prayer.  He asked for the exact Hebrew names of the man’s martyred father, mother and wife.  Then he asked him for the names of his children. Crying openly, the man said the name of his eldest son.  The gabbai paled and asked him to repeat the name.  The man repeated the name once more. The gabbai exclaimed: “That’s my full Hebrew name!”

The shul erupted in pandemonium.  It turned out that the gabbai was a young child during the Holocaust.  He managed to escape deportation and hid out in the woods until he finally reached a safe haven.  After the Holocaust, he came to Eretz Yisroel, thinking that he is the only surviving member of his family.  After asking a few more questions, it became clear that the middle-aged secular Jew was none other than the gabbai’s father.

After witnessing the open Hand of Divine Providence, the father turned around completely and became fully religious.  He now firmly believed that there is a G-d Who plans everything that transpires, although His Face is sometimes painfully hidden.

(Nikolsburg.org)

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Gut and meaningful Shabbos to all!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Parshas Kedoshim Messages 5779

בּ“ה
Parshas Kedoshim

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You shall surely rebuke (הוכח תּוכיח) your fellow, and you shall not bear a sin upon him’ (Vayikra 19:17)
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The Mitzvah of “Rebuke”:

1) ----- Writes HaRav Aharon Soloveitchik zt”l:  In the English translation. . . ‘hocheiach tochiach’ is translated as “rebuke” or “reprimand”.  This is not an accurate translation. Hocheiach does not mean rebuke, and does not mean reprimand.  It really means “a proof”; something that serves as a raayah, for evidence is called a hochachah -- a proof.  Thus the Torah says, in fact:  You shall prove to your fellow -- to your chaver.

Prove what?  What shall you prove?  Obviously it means: ‘You shall prove to your fellow the wrongful path on which he embarks, the wrongfulness of his conduct.’ Although the words are omitted, the meaning is implicit.  

But the question then arises, why, if that be the case, does not the Torah say, ‘l’amisecha -- unto your your fellow’?  If the Torah means ‘you shall convince, you shall prove unto your fellow the wrongfulness of his course,’ then ‘amisecha -- your fellow,’ is an indirect object.  How is it that the Torah employs the direct object -- ‘es amisecha’ -- when the indirect object should be employed?  A very profound concept is contained in this verse, and and the key to it lies in the grammatical formulation of this Mitzvah.

We find in the Talmud that whenever people are quoted as referring to the better side of their character, they speak of themselves in the first person, while if referring to the evil aspect of their character, then they refer to themselves in the third person.

Thus, when the Talmud quotes people as saying that they fulfilled a certain Mitzvah, it puts the word ana, “I,” in the mouth of the person quoted.  

Should the Talmud quote people as telling that they were violators of the Shabbos, or that they were rude, then the term hahu gavra, “that person,” is used by the person quoted.  

We learn from this that within every person there are two personalities.  In every individual there is the ideal personality, aspiring towards that which is sacred, noble, worthy.  And simultaneously, every person is moved by certain animal instincts which lead him or her to sinful acts.  

The real personality is the one that is motivated by the lofty inclination.  That is the “ana,” the “I,” the essential inner self of the person; the animal instincts that impel one towards wrongful ways constitute only the “hahu gavra,” “that person,”a stranger, a trespasser who occupies one’s spirit. . .

The Mitzvah of tochachah is based upon the belief that the true self is the “I” of the person, not the “that person.”  The “hahu gavra” is only a subterfuge (deception) that covers up and imprisons the real self.  

How can one correct another?  If you see that a person is addicted to sin, how can you change the person?  Not by calling names, not by reprimanding, but by proving to the person his or her true self. . .

The reason so many Jews feel incapable of Teshuva is because they are not aware of their own spiritual strength.  They think that the acher (other) is the real person while it it is only a trespasser.  

The Torah says if you want to succeed in correcting Jews who are delinquent in their demeanor, then do not try to reprimand them.  Do not tell them, “You are no good,” “You are impure”; that is not tochachah.  Rather, tochachah requires that you convince the delinquents of their inner selves:  You shall retrieve your fellow. . .

Right now certain Jews are not chaverim, because externally there is a rude shell, a hahu gavra that imprisons their personality, frustrates them, and does not allow them to realize their potential.  
But with the proper approach and proper guidance, you can revive and regain the chaver so that this Jew will be a chavrusa to you.  This is the purpose of ‘hocheiach tochiach. . . vi’lo sisa alav cheit’ -- that you shall not incur guilt.  

Shall we then fail to realize why so many Jews are delinquent in their religious and moral demeanor?  Is it not because we, the so-called observant Jews, fail to inspire them? Had we grasped the proper approach towards these Jews, then they would have been inspired to expel the shell that covers up their real selves.  

Were we to realize now the proper approach and the proper guidance, we would beyond any doubt succeed in retrieving and reviving the chaver, the amisecha.  If we fail to fulfill the tochachah, then it is [in part] our fault, and we share the guilt. (Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind).

2) ----- From the fact that the Torah uses the double-term -- הוכח תּוכיח, we learn that different-styled, and differently worded rebukes are needed for different people.  We must judge our “audience.” (Tal U’Matar).

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And you shall love your fellow like yourself, I am Hashem.’ (Vayikra 19:18)
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The Mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך:

1) ----- In the midst of the command to love our fellow, Hashem provides us with a valuable piece of advice how to perform it:

The verse tells us that you must love our fellow ‘like yourself.’ A person naturally sees things from their own perspective and from their side of things, thus, in part, why they are more sensitive to themselves.  However, if we can try to sometimes see things from our fellow’s perspective, it will aid us greatly to love them as we are supposed to and treat them properly.  For example, before we say or do something that could, Chas V’Shalom, be offensive, think about how you would feel if someone said or did that to you. . .

And the same goes for other situations:  If others are, Chas V’Shalom, not so nice at times, don’t just jump and dislike them.  There are always reasons behind things -- so try to think from their perspective:  Perhaps there are things going on in their lives that aren’t so pleasant, may Hashem help them, and so they are bitter.  There have certainly been moments for ourselves like that! And there are many other possible things. (Tal U’Matar).

2) ----- The true and full upholding of ‘And you shall love your fellow like yourself’, says the Sfas Emes {third Gerrer Rebbe -- Rebbe Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter zt”l}, is very hard work.  Therefore HaKadosh Baruch Hu says: ‘I am Hashem’ -- I am prepared to help, so that you will be able to uphold it if only there will be in you a true desire to it. . . (Quoted in Maayanah Shel Torah).

3) ----- Hillel said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your friend.” (Gemara Shabbos 31a).

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Parshas Kedoshim has 64 pessukim (verses).  This number is the Gematria (numerical value) of the word דין, which means ‘judgement.’ This can allude to us that in order to truly become holy people, serving Hashem as is proper -- קדושים -- we must at times take a ‘judgement’ on our actions, and see where we are holding:  In what areas are we lacking and thus must improve in?

(Tal U’Matar)

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|~Maaseh~| Once, one of the students of HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt”l came before him and said that he would like to travel to Germany to tell over things regarding Teshuva, because he had heard that there was a loosening on the faith there, and maybe it would help the people to return from their bad ways.

“Good thought,” said Rav Yisroel, “But what about our city, Salant; are all the people of the city going in the upright way?  Perhaps there’s place to arouse the people of our city with matters of Teshuva, first?”

“You are certainly correct!” The talmid answered.

“And what about your family?” inquired Rav Yisroel, “Are they all truly going in the upright way, or perhaps they should be aroused first?”

The talmid replied that indeed, when he thought about it, he should first speak with some of his family.

“And what about you?” Rav Yisroel asked, “Are you pleased with the state you’re in, or maybe. . .?”

“Indeed, indeed!” Said the talmid. “The Rebbe is correct.  Before everything, it is upon me to fix myself. . .”

(Vi’Karasa L’Shabbos Oneg, Volume 2)

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Gut and meaningful Shabbos to all!