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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayikra

Parshat Vayikra

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayikra
3rd of Nissan, 5780 | March 28, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlita
A Message for Klal Yisroel

We are in very trying times unfortunately. Today, we don’t know exactly what the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d) wants from us, but He wants us to become better. That is for sure. He always aims that we should become better. He gives us the Torah to become better. He gives us the Torah to learn how to behave and how to deal with people, and how to deal with ourselves. The Ribono Shel Olam teaches us all the time.

Unfortunately, this is now a time when the Ribono Shel Olam separates us so that we should not be together. But, at the same time, we have to feel that we’re missing something, because we can always learn from one another. That is the greatest thing that the Ribono Shel Olam gave to Klal Yisroel (the Jewish people). We are called Klal Yisroel because we all have one aim: We want to become closer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. That is what we want to do. And if you want to get closer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, you have to behave well, you have to speak well, you have to honor people. Honor anybody, and honor them as is befitting for them.

Every person has to think, “What can I do for you?” If we always think what we can do for others, then we ourselves will become better. The Ribono Shel Olam separates us to give us more time to think. We have to think, “How can I be beneficial to my friend? What can I do for you?” A person always needs to be ready to help.

Our times are very difficult times. We cannot get together, and we are separated. But at the same time, we have to think, “What are we missing?” We are missing the friendship of one another. _
My bracha is that we should continue thinking of that concept of friendship. It is so important to be a part of everybody; to be part of Klal Yisroel. To be part of Klal Yisroel means that you have to think that we are one person, and that you are thinking not about yourself. You are thinking as a ben Yisroel, who asks, “What can I do for you?”_

My bracha is that all our efforts and whatever we do should be met with much success. We should be able to accomplish what we are aiming for, and that should be the greatest accomplishment which the Ribono Shel Olam wants from us.

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman
Panic During a Pandemic

The Gemara (Bava Kama 60b) states, “When there is a pandemic, one should go into hiding.” Elucidating this, the Ben Yehoyada (authored by the Ben Ish Chai) cites the commentary of the Maharsha and Ein Yaakov, whose words we should bear in mind during these times.

The Ben Yehoyada says that when there is a virus which is spreading, it is good to leave the town. The reason that one should do so, he explains, is that when there is an epidemic circulating, the fear and panic that ensues harms the person, and actually brings him to be ill. When a person fears the disease, he becomes vulnerable to contract it.

Moreover, writes the Ben Yehoyada, the story is told of an epidemic that broke out in a large town. Before the virus had the chance of spreading, a man met the angel in charge of the epidemic, and asked, “How many lives are you going to take?” The angel replied, “I’m going to take the lives of five thousand people.” As it turned out, fifteen thousand townspeople died.

When the man met the angel again, he asked, “Why did you lie? You told me you would take five thousand people’s lives, but in fact fifteen thousand died?” The angel replied, “I didn’t lie. I only took five thousand people; the remaining ten thousand townspeople who died, brought the disease upon themselves because of their fear. The disease was circulating, and everyone was panicking, which made them more vulnerable to contract it.”

The Ben Yehoyada concludes the parable, stating that panic and fear induces the onset of the disease. First and foremost, we must do our utmost not to panic. Of course, we must do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves from harm, and in fact, protecting ourselves is a mitzvah as outlined in the Torah. All the while, we must do our best to remain calm throughout these times, trusting that Hashem is with us.

A Special Message for Chassanim and Kallos

For the many weddings that are taking place these days under different circumstances, allow me to share one thought.
We cannot image the elevated level of a chassan (groom) and kallah (bride). The Chasam Sofer writes that a chassan on the day of his wedding is like the tzaddik of his generation. To this effect, consider the following story.

There was once a wealthy philanthropist, by the name of Yechiel Meir Pick, who was originally from Poland and had moved to Israel. Yechiel Meir Pick was known to have donated buildings in the cities of Ponevezh and Jerusalem and beyond. Yet what did he do to merit such great wealth?

The story went as follows.

On the day of his wedding, he was supposed to take the train to arrive at the location of his wedding. However, by mistake, he took the train which headed in the opposite direction. The biggest problem was that once he arrived at the wrong destination, he didn’t have any money for the train ride back. He would be stuck, but he needed to get back in time for his wedding.

As he stood in the train station crying, the Sifsei Tzaddik met him, and asked Yechiel Meir what had happened. As he relayed the story, the Sifsei Tzaddik gave him money for the trip, and told him, “You will never again lack money, because you cried for this on the day of your chuppah.”

If I would have one message for chassanim and kallos:
What is going on may seem odd, but on such a tremendous day as your wedding, if you are crying, know that there must be great and wonderful things awaiting for you as a husband and wife and family in your future. As you see, the tears of Yechiel Meir Pick paid off. In fact, R’ Shlomke Zvhiller once remarked, “If a businessman asks a beggar for fifty dollars, the beggar understands that he is about to receive a hundred-dollar bill.”

How much more so does this apply to you. If you’ve been asked to undergo this amount of change, to experience this amount of disappointment and discomfort on the incredible and tremendous day as your wedding, then know that a sweet life is waiting for you.

Rabbi Eytan Feiner
The Wisdom of the Animals

The Book of Vayikra deals extensively with the process and procedures of offering Korbanos (sacrifices). While various explanations are given as to why sacrifices are offered, ultimately, it revolves around animals. Kosher animals are taken and offered to Hashem.

Turning back to Parshas Vayakhel, the Torah expands upon why Betzalel and Ohaliav were chosen to serve at the forefront of constructing and building the Mishkan, when it states, “Asher nasan Hashem chachmah u’tevunah ba’heimah – Hashem granted wisdom and insight in them,” The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 48:2), noting the usage of the word “ba’heimah,” in them, which is superfluous and notably bears similar phonetic resemblance to the word be’heimah (animal), states that G-d granted wisdom to animals. Just like mankind possesses wisdom and insight, so did Hashem endow animals with such capacities.

First and foremost, what is classified by the Torah as an “animal”?

The Maharal (beg. Tiferes Yisroel) notes that the word be’heimah is a contraction of two words – ba – mah, meaning, “What is in it?” When it comes to an animal, what you see is what you get. It does not possess the same level of depth as a human does.

At the same time, when it came to the building of the Mishkan, just as Betzalel and Ohaliav were endowed with the special wisdom to create the Mishkan, so were the animals. (See Berachos 55a, which states that Betzalel, who was but a thirteen-year-old at the time of the building of the Mishkan (Sanhedrin 69b), understood the wisdom behind the letters of the Aleph-Beis, from which the world was created).

What exactly, though, was this wisdom that Hashem endowed the animals living at the time of the Mishkan with?

The Ksav Sofer explains the wisdom of the animals in light of the comment made by Rashi. Rashi explains that the Jewish woman possessed the wisdom of how to spin wool directly off the sheep’s body and create materials from it. Such a feat, wherein the animal would remain at ease and allow for the woman to delicately spin wool off of them, required the animal to be aware that they were involved in a sacred process of preparing the materials for the use of the Mishkan. Moreover, the animals approached the Jews themselves and offered to be a part of this process and of completing the Mishkan.

Additionally, the sefer Otzar Penini HaTorah cites from R’ Eliyah HaKohen from Izmir who writes that in this situation, the animals stayed away from thorns and bushes that would harm and dirty their wool, so it would remain in good and clean condition to be used for the Mishkan. Despite an animal’s innate desire to forage for food, which often results in them dirtying their wool, these animals in the times of the Mishkan refrained from such activity.

Moreover, when the Torah in Parshas Bereishis records Adam HaRishon’s reaction to Chava being given to him as a wife, he remarks, “This time it is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh; to this, I shall call a wife.” Rashi (Bereishis 2:23, as explained by the commentaries) explains that prior to Chava, Adam HaRishon examined and studied all the species of animals, and found no commonality with them, until Chava was given to him, with whom he found similarity.

The Taz (sefer Divrei Dovid on Chumash) writes, however, “Prior to the sin of Adam HaRishon, all the animals in the world were attractively beautiful, as was the case with the snake.” An animal in those days was different than we know of one today. Its wisdom and beauty, during the days of Creation and the Mishkan, was far superior to what it is today.

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
The Roots of Responsibility

We all can appreciate the importance and value of responsibility. Whether as a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend, caring after the needs and burdens of others stands as one of the most important endeavors and attitudes we can embrace. Yet, when it comes to being a member of the Jewish people, even as large and diverse as our nation is, achrayos (responsibility) takes on profound and expansive meaning.

The very word achrayos (אחריות), in fact, teaches us just exactly what true responsibility is all about.

א - Aleph stands for ani, I. Taking responsibility begins when we realize that if we ourselves do not do something, but rather rely on someone or something else, it will not get done. We must feel a personal obligation and ambition to help. Whenever we have the opportunity to help a fellow Jew, we have to spring into action and start working.
ח - In conjunction with the previous letter, aleph, the letter ches joins to form the word ach, brother. Every Jew is to be viewed and treated as a brother.
ר - Continuing with the next letter, the combination of aleph, chesand reish spell the word אחר (acher), other. Even those who we feel are distant from us, and are “others,” are in truth our own family. We are to look after them and embrace them with love and care.
י -The next word formed is acharai (אחרי), after me. We are meant to follow the lead and provide support to those who are looking after the welfare of Klal Yisrael. By following in their footsteps, we provide greater good to the entire nation.
ו - Adding a vav, we arrive at the word acharav. Similar to the above word acharai, the underlying message here is one of following in the work of others. Through joining people and organizations who are involved in serving Klal Yisrael, we further the quantity and quality of assistance others receive and benefit countless people.
ת - With respect to the word achrayos, the first letter – aleph – and the last letter – tav – span the entire Hebrew alphabet. Responsibility means to care after each and every Jew and under all circumstances from beginning to end.

Let me share with you one example of someone who epitomized the virtue of achrayos.

The year was 1955 in Boro Park, New York. Chaim Schwartz who had survived the flames of the Holocaust had made his way over to America, yet without his family. His wife and children had unfortunately not made it out. While Mr. Schwartz was understandably heartbroken, every day one fellow Jew would warmly greet him and extend a hearty “Shalom aleichem!” Giving

Mr. Schwartz encouragement and support, life moved on slowly but with the prospective hope of rebuilding a new future.
One day, the man said to Mr. Schwartz, “I am giving you a beracha that you should remarry and have a daughter, and I will dance at the wedding. You have a long life ahead of you. Don’t give up!” Although Mr. Schwartz had his doubts about how significantly life could improve given his present situation, the words of this man nevertheless rang in his ears.

And sure enough, as the man had said, Mr. Schwartz went on to remarry. And indeed, he had a daughter.

When the daughter was ten years old, the world experienced the loss of one of the greatest Torah leaders of the time, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l. Why that meant anything to Mr. Schwartz and his family was because the “man” who had uplifted the spirits of Mr. Schwartz and provided him with hope and determination was none other than Rav Aharon Kotler.

Ten years later, Mr. Schwartz’s daughter met a wonderful boy who she planned on marrying. And so, the wedding date was set as the families prepared for the exciting and momentous day to arrive.

As the wedding celebrations and dancing began, shortly thereafter in walked Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l, son of Rav Aharon. He was already an older man at the time, yet that did not deter him from grabbing hold of the father and chassan and energetically dancing full of joy and enthusiasm.

While the father was certainly thrilled to have the great Rav Shneur at the wedding, he could only wonder why in fact he had made the extra effort to attend. “Rebbe,” Mr. Schwartz said, “it’s so nice that you came. Thank you so much. If you don’t mind me asking, though, why did you go out of your way to be here?”

“I am here for a very good reason,” replied Rav Shneur. “When my father was on his deathbed ten years ago, he called me over and said, ‘There is a man named Chaim Schwartz who lives in Boro Park and has a daughter who is now ten years old. I want you to watch over this man and his family. After he came to America, I promised him that he would get married, have a daughter and I would dance at her wedding. Yet, clearly, I will be unable to attend the wedding. And so, I would like you to go in my stead.”

With Rav Shneur looking ever so gently at the father, he said, “That is why I am here. I am here wishing you and your family a Mazel Tov along with the blessings of my father.”

That is achrayos. That is what it means to personally look after a fellow Jew and view him as your brother who you care for under all circumstances. Just imagine what Rav Aharon Kotler had on his mind during his last moments in this world: a fellow Jew.

We all can lead lives where we show the same responsibility and compassion for every member of Klal Yisrael. It all begins with looking beyond ourselves and peering into the heart of another Jew and saying, “He is my brother and I am here to help.”

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