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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayikra

Parshat Vayikra

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Vayikra 9th of Adar II, 5776 | March 19, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Eliezer Krohn T



"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Vayikra
9th of Adar II, 5776 | March 19, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Eliezer Krohn
The Perfect Seat

ושלם אתו

And he shall repay… (Vayikra 5:24)

Rabbi Tanzer, a beloved Rav with a wonderful congregation, lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dedicated to his community, he led them with care and patience. One day, he received a phone call from America. It was a man calling to inform him that his father, who was living in Boro Park and getting on in his years, had wandered off all by himself and forgot where he was. Considering that Rabbi Tanzer’s father was getting old, it was suggested that he no longer live alone. Hearing of the news, Rabbi Tanzer decided that he would bring his father over from Boro Park to Johannesburg and build an extension to his house where his father could stay.

Despite Rabbi Tanzer being preoccupied with leading a large Shul, whenever he had the opportunity to help his aging father, he was there. However, when Mr. Tanzer was brought to South Africa, Ari, a young local community member, took a liking to him. He used to endearingly call Mr. Tanzer “Old Man Tanzer.” Always looking to help, Ari assumed the role of a caretaker for Mr. Tanzer. He would drive him to Shul every morning, assist him to put on his Tallit and Tefillin and drive him back to Shul. Even for Shabbat, he would make sure Old Man Tanzer was taken to and from Shul. For two years, Ari loyally stood by Old Man Tanzer’s every need. He was an indispensable source of assistance and deeply became attached to the old man like a grandson to a grandfather.

After two years of devoted assistance, Old Man Tanzer grew even older and frailer. By now, he could no longer go to Shul. And sooner than later, it was even too difficult for him to get out of bed. But Ari stood by his bedside and waited on his every need day after day. And then the fateful day arrived. Having lived a long, satisfied and accomplished life, Old Man Tanzer passed away.

Some time later, Ari needed to travel to America for a business convention. Not wanting to spend Shabbat where the convention was taking place, he arranged to stay in a hotel in Boro Park. He had heard that Boro Park was home to countless religious Jews and he figured it would be a delightful experience to spend Shabbat there. Considering that there were so many Jews where he would stay, Ari was unconcerned about finding a place to eat the Shabbat meals. But nevertheless, just to be on the safe side, he purchased two little rolls of challah, a bottle of grape juice and two small pieces of fish. “Of course,” he said to himself, “I will not need to use them for I will be invited out. After all, back home in South Africa whenever someone looks like he is a stranger, he receives numerous invitations out.” And so, Ari remained unworried.

Friday night arrived and Ari stepped out of his hotel onto the sidewalk. Looking around, he spotted a Shul in the distance. He figured that he would go there for davening. Entering inside, he took a seat and began to daven. Time passed by and before he knew it davening was over. But now, Ari was stuck. No one had come over to him to wish him a Shabbat Shalom and he had not been invited out. Left with no other option, he began heading to his hotel room where two little rolls, a bottle of grape juice and two small pieces of fish awaited him.

Shuffling back to his hotel, Ari caught sight of a different Shul. Peering inside, it seemed as if everyone was having a great time. They appeared to be dancing and singing and immensely enjoying the uplifting words of the davening. It was a Chassidish Shul with an upbeat and energetic crowd, and it dazzled Ari. Thinking that maybe if he would go inside he would be able to receive an invitation for a meal, Ari eventually decided not to do so. And with that, he finally made his way back to the hotel and nibbled on his meager Shabbat meal.

As morning arrived and Ari prepared for davening, he began thinking again, “Maybe I should go to that Chassidish Shul? It looked as if they were davening with tremendous focus and passion.” And indeed, although he felt a bit out of place, he decided to go there. Walking inside, he was one of the first people there. Going over to the bookshelf, Ari picked out a Chumash and took a seat. Some time later, people begin filing in for davening. Immediately being greeted by many of the congregants and wished a hearty ‘Shabbat Shalom,’ by the time davening started, Ari felt at home. But it only got better when he was honored by being called up to the Torah. And to top it all off, someone invited him for the Shabbat meal.

As davening came to a close, a number of people gathered around Ari. “Where are you from?” they asked. “I’m from Johannesburg, South Africa.” “Oh, really? Would you happen to know a man who moved there a few years ago named Yankel Tanzer?” “Do I know him?” astounded Ari. “Of course I do! I became so close to him that I cared for him until the end of his life. I was like a grandson to him!”

Hearing that this stranger from South Africa was in fact not too much of a stranger, one of the men surrounding Ari pulled him aside. “I have something to tell you,” he said. “Do you know that Yankel Tanzer used to daven in this Shul?” Surprised to hear such information, Ari stood there silently. And with that the man continued. “And do you know where he used to sit? In the very seat you sat in.”

While Ari could have ended up sitting in one of the myriad seats anywhere throughout Boro Park, he found his way to the very Shul and the very seat that Yankel Tanzer had occupied for so many years. Hashem was clearly sending him a message: if you do chesed for somebody else, it will never be forgotten. No act of kindness, however small, ever goes unpaid.

Rabbi Zev Leff
Rejoicing over Life

Chazal tell us, “When the month of Adar enters, we increase in happiness” (Taanit 29a). Before we can discuss what happiness is, however, let us first discuss what it isn’t.

Many people think that happiness depends on attaining that which we long for. If only we would be married, have children, own a nicer house or have a better job we would be happy. While possessing these amenities may be valuable and important in life, they do not define why we are here in this world and what we should be striving for.

I remember once seeing a T-shirt being sold in New York with the words, “The one who has the most toys when he dies wins.” To many people, this defines their goal and purpose of life. The more toys and experiences they amass, the bigger the winner they are.

One such example is a woman in Los Angeles who once requested that she be buried in her fancy Rolls-Royce car. And in fact, to the chagrin of her heirs, they fulfilled her request. If we were to use this T-shirt’s definition of a successful life, we would surely say this woman won. She would now be left with the most expensive toy for eternity. But in truth, besides the fact that her gas mileage would be great, her Rolls-Royce was not taking her anywhere.

The United States Declaration of Independence guarantees its citizens the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let me first tell you what the “pursuit of happiness” is like.

In Miami, Florida there is something uniquely different than many places throughout the world. Instead of having horse races, they have dog races. Now, there is a very big distinction between the two. With horse races, an intelligent human being rides on the horse and knows that winning the race means receiving a larger paycheck. Consequently, he gives the horse the incentive to run faster.

Dogs, however, do not have anybody riding on them. How then do they motivate the dogs to do their best? They have a mechanical rabbit called “Speedy” that runs ahead. The faster the dogs run, the faster the rabbit moves. If the dogs would ever catch the rabbit, though, they would soon realize that it is not a rabbit, but a doll. They would then stop racing.

That is the pursuit of happiness. You run and run and think that if you will just attain this item or pleasure, you will be happy. But then you want more. True to Chazal’s dictum, “One who has one hundred desires two hundred.” Without question, this never-ending pursuit cannot possibly be the meaning of true happiness and what life is all about.

What then is the real definition of happiness?

There are two teachings in Pirkei Avot which appear to contradict one another, yet in fact complement each other. On the one hand, the Mishnah begins by saying, “One second of repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than the whole World to Come” (Pirkei Avot 4:17). From this phrase, there would seem to be much appreciable value to the world we live in. The Mishnah, however, continues to say, “One second of peripheral pleasure in the World to Come is greater than the sum total of all pleasure in this world.” Peripheral pleasure refers to the following scene: A man passes by a banquet hall with tables full of delicious food, yet he is not invited inside. All he can do is take a whiff of the aroma wafting through the air.

From this latter statement it would appear that this world is comparatively nothing in relation to the World to Come. One second of even peripheral pleasure in Olam Haba is greater than all the pleasure ever experienced in this world from the beginning of time until the end of time.

If we were academic scholars, we would perhaps suggest that there are two schools of thought amongst the Rabbis. One school of thought likes this world and one school of thought likes the Next World. But there is only one problem. R’ Yaakov said both of these statements. Which therefore is greater: this world or the next?

The answer is that there are certain qualifications when looking at these two worlds. From one perspective, this world is nothing compared to the Next World. On the other hand, this world is greater than the Next World.

Imagine a man standing outside the delivery room waiting for news of his child’s impending birth. The doctor walks out and says, “I have very sad news for you. Your wife has just given birth to a baby, but it has contracted a terminal disease it cannot survive. You baby is going to die with the disease it was born with.” Hearing of such heartbreaking news, the husband looks for solace. “Give me hope, doctor,” pleads the man, “there must be a cure.” “I am sorry sir, but there is no cure.” “Are you looking for a cure?” “No, we gave up years ago.” Did anyone ever miraculously survive this disease?” says the husband with tears streaming down his face. “Never,” says the doctor.

Not knowing what to do with himself, the man sighs, “I have never heard of such a terrible disease. There is no cure, you are not looking for a cure and no one ever survived. What is the name of this illness my child was born with?” “Life,” says the doctor. “Some people survive eighty years, some survive ninety years and some make it to one hundred. Although we do not know how long it is going to take, everyone who has this disease will eventually leave this world.”

If life is merely comprised of the seconds between birth and death, then life becomes more and more depressing with each passing day. But this is not the Jewish perspective of life. According to the Torah, life does not begin when we enter this world and finish when we leave this world. Our essence is our neshama which existed in a spiritual world thousands of years before our entry into this physical world. When we descended into this world and were given eyes, ears and legs, it was only for a temporary journey. Similar to an astronaut who must wear a space suit when entering outer space, we too must possess physical bodies in order to function in a physical setting.

For this reason, one of the ways we express signs of mourning is tearing our clothing. We mean to express that our beloved has merely removed his earthly clothing, but that his neshama will continue on to exist for eternity. Our true essence is our neshama. And indeed, eventually we will return to that spiritual world we came from and eternally enjoy the fruits of our labor performed on earth. We will blissfully experience the close relationship we have built with Hashem throughout our journey in this world.

In this regard, the World to Come dwarfs this world because it is only there where we will partake of an eternal blissful spiritual relationship with Hashem. However, simultaneously, the world we live in now is indescribably valuable because it is only here where we can create that eternity in the World to Come. Once our neshama leaves our body, it is too late and we will forever remain who we created ourselves to be.

When I was eight years old, the supermarket in my neighborhood held a contest. The winner of the contest was awarded fifteen minutes to go throughout the market and grab anything and everything for free. And in fact, when a woman won the contest, my brother and I, along with the entire neighborhood, came to watch her claim the prize. Wearing sneakers, the woman had two shopping bags hanging from her arms and a map of the supermarket noting the more expensive aisles.

Being told that she had fifteen minutes from the blow of the first whistle to the blow of the second whistle, she began running hysterically throughout the supermarket the moment the whistle was blown. After five minutes, she was perspiring and breathing heavily.

Imagine if someone would have approached her and said, “Lady, you look very tired and out of breath. Here is a chair; take a seat and rest for a few minutes.” What would she have said? “Are you out of your mind? I have fifteen minutes to grab whatever I can. How can I waste a second? As soon as the second whistle is blown, I will be more than happy to sit down as long as necessary. But right now, I must maximize every moment.”

In truth, we need not pursue happiness because we have it right before us. Life itself is the greatest gift we could have for with it we possess the unbelievable opportunity to create eternity. All that is left for us to do is use every moment we have to its utmost.

A Short Message from
Rabbi Daniel Glatstein

When a couple seeking to have children approaches Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita for guidance, he advises them to work on the trait of humility. When asked what connection exists between humility and having children, Rav Chaim pointed to an explicit comment of Rashi in Parashat Noach (10:25). Of all the descendents of Noach, the individual possessing the largest family was Yaktan with thirteen children. In relation to Yaktan, Rashi comments, “He was humble and therefore merited many children.”

Why in fact is humility a meritorious trait to having children? Considering that a mother, father and Hashem unite in the creation of a child and Hashem’s presence only dwells together with one who is humble (Sotah 5a), the perfect quality for partnering with Hashem is humility.

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