Parshat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Acharei Mot- Kedoshim               8 Iyar 5762               April 20, 2002               Vol.11 No.25


In This Issue:

Rabbi Hershel Solnica
Daniel Fischer
Ami Friedman
Oren Levy
David Tessler
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-Limitations on Honoring Parents and Honoring Minhagim

This week's issue has been sponsored by Rabbi & Mrs. Solnica in honor of all Klal Yisrael and especially Tzahal.


 

Salt is Forever
by Rabbi Hershel Solnica

The Sedra's two titles express a sad feel of life and place a serious challenge to us individually and collectively as a people. My father, Rabbi Shmuel Solnica zt"l, would always sadly comment on this combination of Sedrot, "Only after Acharei Mot do we learn the lesson of Kedoshim Tihiyu."

How beautiful it would be if we were to learn, to enjoy, and to live the beloved Mitzvot outlined in Parshat Kedoshim. This Sedra goes from Shabbat to Kibud Av Vaeim, to honesty, to decency, etc. Must we first witness the tragedy and loss of our best to reach The Treasure of Redemption?

It is no wonder that the sequence of Yom Hashoa and then Yom Haatzmaut is so fundamental. This seems to be a sad but normal sequence in the life of Yisrael.

Did we not first witness a tragic Holocaust and then be blessed with Midinat Yisrael? How many people need to experience sickness and/or sadness before they realize that Biyado Afkid Ruchi (We are all in His hand). I often tell my Talmeidim, "One visit to a hospital, dialysis ward, or cardiac ward, and one can not wait to see Chachamim, to do Teshuva, and more importantly to count our blessings every moment of the day.

In Shemoneh Esrei we say in Modim, "Al Nisecha..." (upon the miracles and wonders that Hashem gives and does to us every morning, every evening)

Let us all turn to Hashem and take a short cut to redemption. Let us become religious and righteous without having to face a Hitler or an Arafat to remind us that we are all Biyad Hashem, and only by His grace and kindness to we awake, do we survive, and are able to be delivered. The Rally in Washington was a beginning of what Achdut (unity) could and should be. Let us build on this and Hashem will bless us all with a Geula Shelayma.


A True Optimist

by Daniel Fischer

In Perek 19 Pasuk 18 of this week's Parsha, it says, Viahavta Lirayacha Kamocha, "Love your neighbor as you do yourself." As we all know, Rabbi Akiva explains that this is a fundamental principle, one of the pillars of Torah and Judaism. Rabbi Akiva, who experienced the terrible tragedy of having his students die, is the most suited person to speak about the importance of this Mitzva. He was a great Rosh Yeshiva with 24,000 students who all died during this time, the time between Pesach and Shavuot. It is such an incredible number of students to have that one cannot even fathom it even in our day of huge Yeshivot. Most people, having experienced such a blow, would have to deal with serious depression and hopelessness. If they managed to get over that, they would retire with a broken heart.

Rabbi Akiva realized that by all of his students dying in one fell swoop, it was a catastrophe that reflected negatively on him. That is why, the Gemara, in Yevamot 62b, says that when Rabbi Akiva's students died and the world was desolate, he went to the south of Eretz Yisrael and started over again. Rabbi Akiva clearly had unbelievable resilience. No matter how great a disaster he suffered he would find a positive aspect in the darkest cloud. He would discover something positive, something to give him new hope, strength, and the self assurance to start over.

The Gemara in Makkot 24a tells a story that Rabbi Akiva lived through the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. He was walking past the ruins with several sages, when they burst into tears, except for Rabbi Akiva who began to laugh. He told the other sages that the reason he was laughing was because he knew that since the prophecy of the destruction came true, so too the prophecy of the redemption will also come true. We must learn from Rabbi Akiva to be able to find a glimmer of light in the deepest darkness. This is a very important trait, as well as an ability attuned to the Mitzva of loving others. He, more than anyone else, was able to see the best in all people and love them for it.


Keodshim Tihyu
by Ami Friedman

Parshat Acharei Mot begins by talking about the laws of Yom Kipper and slaughtering Korbanot. Then the Torah talks about the Issurei Arayot. The next Parsha talks about being "Kadosh" and community life. Why are these laws listed here? What constitutes Kedusha?

The Kli Yakar says that these commandments are similar to what happened in Yitro after Hashem said that Bnai Yisrael will be holy, "Veotom Tiyhun Li Mamlechet Kohanim Vagoy Kadosh." Rav Levi says that the Aseret Hadibrot are hinted to in the laws listed in Kedoshim (for a full discussion of this see R. Menachem Leibtag discussion @ www.Tanach.org).

Chazal say that whenever you distance yourself from Averot, you find Kedusha. This is the reason why the Halachot in Kedoshim follow and are followed by Arayot.

In Emor, the Kohen is made Kadosh by being prohibited from marrying a Zona, Chalala, Gerusha, Chalutza, or a Giyoret. The Kli Yakar believes that being Kadosh is not just a status, but it is also a commandment by distancing ourselves from the Arayot.

In all of Sefer Vayikra, there are different levels of Tumah and Kedusha. In Parshat Vayikra, the Torah distinguishes between pure and impure types of Korbanot. In Parshat Shemini, the Torah distinguishes between pure and impure animals. Tazria and Metzora discuss how a Zav, a Metzora, and a woman who gave birth become pure. Parshat Emor talks about how regular Kohanim and Kohanei Gedolim each have their greater status of Kedusha and how they each have extra Issurim.

The laws in Kedoshim about communal life are also "Arayot" to an extent Just as we can not lust after close relatives, so too we should not lust after money and prestige. Just as the first three books of Vayikra separate animals into different categories of Kedusha, those who follow the laws of Kedoshim, Perek 19, are separated and holier from the rest of the world. These people are ethical businessman and judges, respectful of their elders, their parents, and Hashem, are kind to the Zar, Cheresh, and Iver, do not avenge fellow Jews, do not bare grudges, and love fellow Jews. Unfortunately, although many Jews keep major Halachot like Shabbat, Kosher, and worshipping Hashem, these same Jews speak Lashon Hara, hate other Jews, and act wrongly in business life. A pious Jew must keep every Mitzva in the Torah.


Honor and Fear

by Oren Levy

The Torah commands the Jew, "Ish Imo Veaviv Tirau Veet Shabtotay Tishmoru," "Fear your father and mother and keep Shabbat." The Torah links the fear of one's parents and the keeping of the Shabbat. We find that Shemirat Shabbat is also linked with another commandment involving Yirah, "Et Shabtotay Tishmoru Umikdashi Tirau," "You shall keep My Shabbat and fear My sanctuary." The Rav examined the connection between Shabbat and these two commandments that require Yirah. The Gemara (Kidushin 31b) explains that there are two forms of honor involving a parent: Kavod (respect) and Morah (fear).

The Gemara defines Kavod as physical care given to a parent, like bathing them, clothing them, feeding them etc. The child is responsible for the physical needs of the parent, even if the child must pay for them (in certain circumstances) from his own resources. The Torah commands that we extend Kavod to a parent, and similar Kavod is to be given to a Talmid Chacham as well (Morah Rabcha Kemorah Shamayim, the reverence required from student to teacher is similar to the reverence a person must give Hashem). The Gemara defines Morah as acting in a reverent way towards the parent. For example, one may not sit in his father's chair or contradict him.

Kavod applies to Hashem as well as a human being (e.g. Kavod Habriyot). Morah, awe or reverence, is a characteristic that applies solely to Hashem and not to a human being. The Morah that is required towards Hashem is not the fear of punishment, Morah Haonesh, but rather it is the Morah Haromemut, awe and reverence at the exaltation of Hashem. Applying the attribute of reverence to a mortal being borders on the blasphemous. So why did the Torah command us to give Yirah to a father and mother? Also, how is it possible to show Yirah towards an object, for example the Mishkan?

The Gemara (Yevamot 6a) says that just as one does not exhibit Yirah for Shabbat, but for the One who commanded us about the Shabbat, we do not show Yirah for an object (the Mishkan), but we show Yirah for the One that commanded us to show that Yirah; to Hashem. Similarly, according to the Torah, an expression of Yirah for a parent is equivalent to showing Yirah for Hashem. The Gemara (Kidushin 31b) says that Rabbi Yoseph would rise up when he heard his mother's footsteps and would say that he is rising because he hears the Shechina approaching. Rabbi Yoseph did not say that he was rising out of Kavod, respect, for his mother. Rather he rose out of awe and reverence which he was obligated to show for Hashem. Just as the Divine Presence, Hashroat Hashechina, is encapsulated in the Mishkan, it is also personified in each father and mother. When a child shows reverence, Morah, for his parent he is expressing Yirat Hashem.

Morah for a parent is connected to Shemirat Shabbat because the Shechina shines on, and through the Shabbat. We recite Friday night "Pnay Shabbat Nekablah." This means let us greet the Shechinah that is inherent in the Shabbat day. When we keep the Shabbat we exhibit awe and reverence to Hashem who gave us the Shabbat. For this reason, Shabbat is called the great and holy day, Yom Zeh Gadol Vekadosh. We ascribe to Shabbat the same attributes, Gadol Vekadosh, that we ascribe to Hashem. Shabbat, Morah Av Veaim and Morah Mishkan all have the common theme that fulfillment of the Mitzva results in an expression of Yirah, awe, for the Shechina.


Prepare for Holiness
by David Tessler

Viahavta Lirayacha 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 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, 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 ( Yud-Hay-Vuv-Hay).

"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 "Keish 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.


Halacha of the Week
One must honor his parents even after they have passed away (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 240:9).


Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Josh Dubin
Managing Editors: Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Publishing Manager: Zev Feigenbaum, Daniel Fischer
Publication Editor: Ilan Tokayer
Business Manager: Michael Goldsmith
Staff: Noam Block, Ami Friedman, Yehuda Goldin, Shuky Gross, Simcha Haber, Oren Levy, Ari Michael, Effie Richmond, Dani Shaffren, Sam Wiseman
Webmaster: Yisroel Ellman
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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