A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Metzora/Pesach 1 Iyar 5763 May 3, 2003 Vol.12 No.27
In This Issue:
Rabbi Darren Blackstein
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Chaim Jachter
The Dynamic Trio
by Rabbi Darren Blackstein
The Gemara in Masechet Nidda (31a) tells us that there are three partners involved in the forming of a person: Hashem, the father, and the mother. Each, by contributing something unique, plays a crucial role in bringing about a child’s existence. By stating this partnership, the Gemara may be alluding to the wide variety of laws and customs that take place in the interpersonal relationships among children, parents, and of Hashem. One example may be found at the beginning of our Parsha, where the Torah states, “Every man shall fear his mother and father, and you shall observe My Shabbatot; I am Hashem, your God” (19:3). Rashi comments, using the idea also found in Bava Metzia (32a), that this verse comes to teach us that a child should refuse his parent’s request that he desecrate the Shabbat because ultimately Hashem and His Torah take precedence. Rashi, paraphrasing the Gemara, says that since child and parent are both obligated to honor Hashem, one is not to listen to a request that would nullify any of Hashem’s words. This would not constitute disobeying a parent; rather, this would be adhering to the word of Hashem.
The Maharal, in his sefer Gur Aryeh, asks about the Gemara’s choice of words. Since the Torah talks about fear for one’s parents, the Gemara should also say that both parent and child are obligated to fear Hashem (as opposed to being obligated to honor Him). The Maharal says that if the word ‘fear’ was used the message would be lacking. If honoring a parent involved a failure to observe Shabbat in some positive way without actively sinning, one may think this is all right, as he is still displaying fear of Hashem by not actively transgressing. However, if both child and parent are obligated to honor Hashem, then failure to observe Shabbat, even in a positive way, constitutes a lack of honor. As the Kli Yakar points out, a request to violate the Shabbat undermines the belief that Hashem is the sole Creator. Requesting this of a child is tantamount to saying that Hashem is not a member of the partnership of birth! Hashem is honored by both our action and inaction.
We see from the above comments that the most productive environment is one in which both child and parent are centered on the common goal of serving Hashem. The Rashbam on our Pasuk says that parental fear and Shabbat observance are adjacent here just as they are in the Aseret Hadibrot. The message is that respect for parents is equated with respect for Hashem. How can this be? Perhaps we are being told that honoring Hashem cannot be done to its fullest if we do not understand what it means to honor one’s parents. It is questionable to seek Hashem and simultaneously avoid the path that is given to reach that goal. Parents, and for that matter one’s family, should be viewed as a vehicle through which the individual’s development is achieved. In this regard, Shabbat is most certainly the best example! Is there any other day that has the Kedusha of Shabbat and promotes camaraderie as Shabbat does? Through working together with family and friends, may we all make use of the opportunity to create an environment in which Hashem is honored and glorified.
by Chanan Strassman
In Parshat Kedoshim, Perek 19 Pesukim 18-19, we see two mitzvot. The first of the two is “you shall love your fellow friend as yourself”, and the second is “do not wear a garment that contains a forbidden mixture of fibers.” (We refer to this second mitzvah as Shatnez, or garments made of wool and linen.) Is this really the appropriate time to mention Shatnez? Why is it mentioned here, along with the Mitzvah of loving your fellow frined as you would love yourself?
Based on the fact that the Mitzva of Shatnez is a chok, (a mitzvah whose logic is beyond human understanding,) Rabbi Pinchas Winston offers an answer. He cites a midrash which explains a possible reason for this Mitzva. This midrash says that the reason is derived from the story of Cain and Abel.
In the story of Cain and Abel, the brothers each offer a korban to Hashem. Because Abel gave an extravagant korban while Cain’s was pretty lousy, Abel’s was accepted, and Cain's was rejected. Cain did not take this well and vented his anger by killing his brother.
Now, let us think about what each brother brought as his korban Cain was a farmer and brought flax, the worst of his crop. Abel was a shepherd and brought a sheep, the best of his flock. Since wool and flax, components of Shatnez, were involved in history’s first murder, they remind us of how our relationship with other people is important. Therefore, it is fitting that the Mitzva of Shatnez be placed after the Mitzva of loving your fellow friend as you would love yourself.
Prepare for Holiness
by David Tessler
“Veahavta Lerayacha Kamocha, Ani Hashem,” “You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:18).
It seems strange that at the end of the verse Hashem states, “I am Hashem.” What is the reason for it? Rebbe Mendel of Kosov, in his Sefer Ahavat Shalom, explains that it can be understood as follows. A person is supposed to love his fellow friend exactly as he likes himself, and the same goes with the other person as well. The word “Ahava,” “love” demonstrates this as the Gematria of “Ahava” (13) is the same Gematria of “Echad,” “one” meaning one. This is a Remez (hint) to the fact that each person should treat their fellow as if they are really one person. If they do this then they have made the complete name of Hashem because two times “Ahava” (13) is 26, the same value of Hashem’s name.
“Kedoshim Tihiyu ki Kadosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem,” “You shall be holy because I, Hashem your God, am holy” (Vayikra 19:2). What does the word Kedusha actually mean? It is a word that implies a need for preparation, as Tosafot explains about the Mekadeshot, that Mekadeshot means to prepare. Rebbe Avraham Yaakov of Sadagra, in his Sefer Ner Yisrael, explains that this means that a person always needs to be prepared to be a vessel to receive holiness from Hashem. This is the meaning of the conclusion of the Pasuk “Because I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.” Hashem is constantly prepared and waiting to bestow his holiness and goodness to others. The only thing that prevents this bestowal is our being unprepared to receive all that Hashem has to offer.
How can one be considered a prepared Kli, vessel, for Hashem? I believe that the answer is implied later in the verse, which states, “you shall love your fellow as yourself.” This Mitzva, as Rav Akiva tells us, is an essential Mitzva in the Torah. We are currently mourning for Rebbe Akiva’s 12,000 pair of students who died because they did not respect each other. What was so incredibly horrible about what they did? By not fulfilling the Mitzva of loving “your fellow as yourself,” they were essentially leaving out the name of Hashem that is formed by their joint love for each other. They should have been 12,000 prepared Keilim (vessels), receiving Hashem’s incredible holiness and his Torah, but instead they left out the proper love for the Torah and thus were really leaving out Hashem from their learning. I believe this is stressed by the fact that only the condition in which we were able to receive the Torah was when we were “K’Ish Echad Blev Echad,” “Like one man with one heart.” We should be extra careful to learn from this message of the importance to love all of Bnai Yisrael, to realize that we are all like one person with one heart, and to become Keilim (vessels) for the Kedusha (holiness) and goodness that Hashem is waiting to bestow upon us.
by Yaacov Prupis
In the opening verse of this week’s Parsha, Parshat Kedoshim, Hashem commands Moshe “Daber El Kol Adat Bnai Yisrael Viamarta Aleihem Kedoshim Tihiyu,” “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them ‘You shall be holy…’”
This commandment appears to be very ambiguous. One can easily obey a commandment to do something such as eating Matza or blowing Shofar. How does one fulfill a commandment to be something, to be holy?
One might think that that in order to be holy, one must obey Hashem’s commandments. The Rambam, however, writes that one’s life should be governed by moderation, and that one can easily become “Navel Birshut Hatorah,” “a degenerate with the permission of the Torah,” if one observes only the letter of the law. A person can enjoy self-indulgence and gluttony if he is one to weasel out of things, i.e. cheating the tax system, etc. because it is not technically wrong. But there is one commandment that is being violated: the commandment to be holy.
The Ramban also offers an explanation as to what it means to be holy. His idea is similar to that of the Rambam. The Torah permits one to drink wine and eat meat, but with these privileges the Torah does not mention any restrictions. Accordingly, without the commandment to be holy, one would be permitted to involve oneself in gluttonous behavior. But there is this commandment, the commandment to be holy, which prohibits such behaviors.
Sadly, there are many people who fail to keep this as the most important of Mitzvot. This is wrong both morally and ethically! Many Chilulei Hashem are committed because we do not pay enough attention to this commandment. As role models for the world, we must treat this commandment with high regard.
Furthermore, we should all strive for holiness, for if we are set on keeping this most important of virtues, then sinning will not come to us, and countless Mitzvot will.
The person who is truly holy is the one who need not strive for this virtue, the one whose nature and character does not permit him to be otherwise (refer to the Rambam (introduction to Pirkei Avot) for more depth on this matter). Of course, not many people are born without the inclination to be unholy, but we must do our best, as role models to the rest of the world, to be holy not in regard to Halacha (to better ourselves and to insure our place in Olam Habah) but on business and everyday mundane activities to make a Kiddush Hashem and make sure the world respects us and look at us in admiration.
Halacha of the Week
The Magen Avraham (561:2) and Mishna Brura (561:5) rule in accordance with the Rambam and the other Rishonim who believe that one who enters the Makom Mikdash violates a very serious sin whose punishment is Karet.
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