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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayikra

Parshat Vayikra

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Vayikra
5th of Nissan, 5777 | April 1, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Malcolm Herman
Launching Our Emunah

ואתא שונרא

And the cat came… (Haggadah Shel Pesach)

For one Rav living in Eastern Europe, his daily routine consisted of him serving as a judge for the local Jewish court, returning home for supper for an hour and then heading off to shul to be available for answering questions. On one occasion, though, as his wife prepared fish for supper, she wished to cool it off before he returned home. Stepping outside, she placed a plate of fish just next to the back door.

As it turned out, the rabbi was not the only hungry one that day. Helping himself to the delicious smelling fish was the neighborhood cat. When the Rebbetzin returned only a few minutes later and noticed what had happened, she began to panic. “What is my husband going to eat? He needs his supper!” Hearing the cries of the Rebbetzin from the front of the house was Yankel. Concerned that something had happened, Yankel knocked on the door and stood waiting. When the Rebbetzin opened the door, Yankel reassured her that she had nothing to worry about. He would go to the shul and gently relay the news to the Rebbe. In this way, he would not enter the house unprepared for a surprise.

Entering the shul, as soon as Yankel caught sight of the Rebbe, he walked over to him. Noticing that he was being approached during the time he usually headed home for supper, the Rebbe asked Yankel if he could return later. “Rebbe, I have a very important question.” “Is it life-threatening?” “It is much more important than that,” said Yankel. “I am having doubts in emunah. I can’t be left for even an hour with such doubts!” Hearing that Yankel was bothered by something of such great import, the Rebbe listened carefully.

“I have been learning the Haggadah,” Yankel began, “and I came across the passage of Chad Gadya. But I don’t understand; something doesn’t make sense. As it appears from the story, the goat did nothing wrong. But if so, following the sequence of the passage, the cat who ate the goat was therefore wrong, the dog was right, the stick was wrong, the fire was right, the water was wrong, the ox was right, the slaughterer was wrong and the angel of death was right. But if that is true, it must be that Hashem was wrong. How can that be?”

Listening to Yankel’s concern, the Rebbe explained, “Yankel, you have to start the other way. Hashem was right, the angel of death was wrong, the slaughterer was right, the ox was wrong, the water was right, the fire was wrong, the stick was right, the dog was wrong, the cat was right…”

“Rebbe!” immediately interrupted Yankel, “if the cat was right, you have no supper.”

The Slonimer Rebbe (Sefer Nesivos Shalom) writes that the month of Nissan is the month which launches our emunah for the whole year. It is the crucible in which we solidify and anchor our faith. Even though we may sometimes drift off course and struggle throughout the coming months, Pesach night is the time when we calibrate and get into sync. Questions and doubts only begin when our emunah is not firmly grounded and starts off on the wrong foot. When that is the case, its entire trajectory will be skewed. But if our emunah starts off from the right position and is firmly grounded, it will carry us throughout the entire year and keep us heading exactly where we need to be.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
Keep Smiling

דבר אל בני ישראל

Speak to the Children of Israel (Vayikra 1:2)

As a little girl, Chana’s favorite hobby was looking at wedding albums. She loved to peruse the exciting pictures of every chassan and kallah who looked so happy on their wedding day. Her own dream in life, as expected, was to have a wedding album of her own. And eventually, the momentous day arrived.

Exactly as Chana imagined, the wedding was beautiful. And of course, the photographer was there taking pictures.

Three days after the wedding, Chana received a phone call. It was the photographer. “Chana,” the photographer said, “I need to tell you something. This has never happened to us before and I am very sorry to tell you this, but something happened to our cameras. None of the pictures came out from your wedding.”

As Chana heard this heartbreaking news, she was absolutely devastated. Taking a seat, the reality set in that her lifelong dream had come to an end. And then she started to cry. As her chassan realized what had occurred, he began thinking what he could possibly say or do to put her at ease. “Please Hashem,” he whispered, “put the right words in my mouth to tell my wife.”

“Listen,” he said, “I understand that you are terribly upset. I know why you so deeply wanted to have a wedding album. Years from now you wanted to be able to look at it and see yourself smiling on your wedding day. But let me just tell you one thing: if you ever want to see yourself smiling, all you will have to do is look into the mirror. Because until you are one hundred and twenty, I am going to keep you smiling.”

Both in marriage and in life in general, one of the most important things we can do is show that we care. While life most certainly carries with it ups and downs, being there for another with love and affection makes all the difference. It can soothe our spouse, cheer up our friend and keep us and everyone around us smiling for the rest of our life.

Rabbi Lazer Brody
Shoes, Shoes and More Shoes

As a matter of principle, whenever I speak to couples facing issues in shalom bayis, I always ask both the husband and wife what they believe the opposite spouse is bothered by. I request of the wife to explain what her husband’s complaint is and the husband to explain what his wife’s complaint is. In this way, each spouse learns to listen closely to one another and understand each other.

On one occasion, I asked the wife, “What is your husband’s complaint?” “He feels that I buy too many shoes,” she said. Listening closely to her words, I continued to prod the issue. “How many shoes do you exactly have?” Before the wife could get out a word, her husband interrupted, “Rabbi, she has 535 pairs of shoes! You should see our bedroom. There are shoes everywhere. And in the bathroom, there are slippers all over the place. It is the same way at the entrance of the house and in the den and basement. There are shoes in every square inch of our house. She has running shoes, walking shoes, blue, red, green shoes. It is crazy. Every time I come home, I see that she has bought a new pair of shoes!”

As soon as I heard this, I began calculating 535 divided by 52. And then I said, “You must be married ten and a half years. Am I correct?” Strangely staring back at me, the husband asked how I ever could have figured that out.

“Let me tell you something,” I began explaining. “Oftentimes, when a woman buys a new pair of shoes, she is happy for a week. She absolutely loves her new shoes. If she bought the shoes on Monday morning, she will be happy through Shabbos. Especially if they are Shabbos shoes, she will look forward the whole week until Shabbos arrives when she can wear them. But then Sunday arrives and she puts them away, and on Monday she has completely forgotten about them.

“When the week has ended and the excitement has abated, she needs a new thrill. And if she is not going to get it from you, she will need a new pair of shoes every week. That is the rationale behind my calculation and what I believe your wife does. If she would receive your attention, however, she would not need all those shoes. If you would only give her your quality time every day, you would soon see more of her smile and less of her shoes.”

Our children, siblings and rest of the family are the same. The greatest gift we can give them is ourselves. It may require much time and effort, but without question, it is surely worth it.

Mrs. Chani Juravel
Your Special Prayers

As I was once teaching my class years ago, we received news from the secretary about a distressing situation which had occurred Israel. After informing us of the current conditions, the secretary added that perhaps we should keep it in mind during our davening and learning.

After received this news, one of my students approached me. “Mrs. Juravel, why don’t you daven? We will wait in the meantime.” Wondering why I should pray and not the rest of the class, I asked her to explain. “What do you mean that only I should daven?” “You see,” continued the girl, “you have been Torah observant since you were born and must also have parents and grandparents who are very special. But who are we? We are just becoming religious now and we do not have much to show for ourselves that should warrant our prayers to be answered. That is why you alone should daven.”

Listening to the logic of the girl, I said, “I would like to politely disagree with you. You have much more of a responsibility to davening than you believe. Considering where you have come from, you are especially dear to Hashem. You have gone beyond your natural environment and circumstances and chose to dedicate yourself to a life of Torah and mitzvos. You have left behind your family upbringing and previous lifestyle and chose to live as a religious Jew. In the merit of how far you have come and what you have achieved, you can say, ‘Hashem, I have gone above and beyond my natural limits; You too, please, go above and beyond and help Klal Yisrael.’”

And with that, I concluded by telling her, “Never underestimate the potency of your prayers. They most certainly pierce the heavens and directly reach Hashem.”

Our background is never to be viewed as a deterrent or limitation to us rising to greatness. And in fact, quite to the contrary, sometimes our past is our greatest source of strength and success.

Rebbetzin Ivy Kalazan
Our Personal Exile and Redemption

The Gemara (Berachos 3a) records how R’ Yossi once entered into a churva, a demolished and uninhabited hovel to pray. Having noticed R’ Yossi’s entry, Eliyhau HaNavi chastised him for endangering his life by standing in a near-collapsing shack. “You should have prayed on the road!” said Eliyahu. “I acted as I did,” R’ Yossi explained, “because I was afraid of wayfarers distracting me.” “If you were worried about such disturbances,” replied Eliyahu, “you should have recited a short prayer instead.”

What is the deeper meaning behind this Talmudic passage?

R’ Yossi and Eliyahu HaNavi were delving into the philosophical issue of churban, destruction. While R’ Yossi prayed to Hashem that he be extricated from the troubles plaguing him in life, Eliyahu argued that he was taking the wrong approach. “If you are trying to understand why you feel stuck in life and constricted, the way to deal with it is not by asking Hashem why you are in it. These very struggles are a road to your ultimate greatness and what you need is heavenly assistance to grow from them instead of being floundered by them.”

Hearing Eliyahu HaNavi’s advice, R’ Yossi answered that he was afraid that living a life fraught with challenges and exposure to negative influences would prevent him from spiritually thriving. “If that is the case,” said Eliyahu, “you should have offered a small prayer to Hashem that He help you along your path of struggles. Ask Hashem to give you the strength and wisdom not to be overwhelmed by your surroundings, but grow from them.”

We often wish that life would be care-free without so many challenges and impediments which derail us. Yet, in truth, those very difficulties do no less than form the path towards our ultimate destination. The extra effort we must make will bring us to attain our accomplishments, which we otherwise may have fallen short of.

This is the story of Klal Yisrael in slavery and at the threshold of Exodus. The Jewish people’s exile in the land of Egypt mirrored their inner exile of constriction and limitation. Ensconced in a spiritual wasteland, they doubly struggled to spiritually develop and become the great Jewish nation. But those very trials and tribulations are what built them into Am Yisrael. The same applies to us all. When we are forced to tap into our inner resources and muster resilience to overcome our challenges, we discover our true potential which lead us down the road to greatness.

In one of my Ateres Naava seminary classes, I asked the girls to think about somebody they respected and admired. Asking that they list two qualities of this person, I received answers such as, “She is so selfless and giving,” “She is such a good listener,” “She has such integrity and truly lives up to her values.” I expected to hear all of these answers. But I didn’t expect one particular girl’s response. “I respect her because she is so normal.”

As I listened to what this girl said, I began thinking that it is especially nice to meet someone who is spiritually uplifted and engaged in the world of Torah, yet at the same time very grounded and relatable. One who uses his or her unique personality to serve Hashem holds true potential for greatness. Such a person will be able to look at the galus in his or her life and know how to bring out the geulah within the worst of predicaments. They will live normal lives yet achieve extraordinary heights.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Paysach Krohn

I once heard a great line which sends such an important and true message: “The right temperature in a home is maintained by warm hearts, not hot heads.” Living with this attitude in our home when relating to our spouses and children will surely create a pleasant and comfortable environment.

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