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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Kedoshim

Parshat Kedoshim

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"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Kedoshim 6th of Iyar, 5776 | May 14, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbi Yisroel Brog The Ta


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Parashat Kedoshim
6th of Iyar, 5776 | May 14, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yisroel Brog
The Tax Return

מאזני צדק אבני צדק

You shall have correct scales, correct weights… (Vayikra 19:36)

As a woman had moved with her husband from America to Beit Shemesh, life was not all too easy. Having been born and raised in America, the change of lifestyle she and her husband experienced in Israel was quite drastic. However, for the most part, they were able to make do with the bare minimum. The husband’s full-time Kollel earnings carried them through.

But then matters began spiraling downwards. Needing to take out loans and borrow money, they eventually reached a total of twelve-thousand dollars in debt. But that didn’t deter the husband and wife from remaining in Beit Shemesh. The wife decided that she would begin cleaning local homes in the vicinity in an attempt to bring home some extra money. It was not her ideal job, considering that she was forced to sell herself out for menial labor and minimum pay. But, for the meantime, that was the best plan the husband and wife could come up with.

And it worked. Their large debt began to decrease from twelve-thousand to eight-thousand. Slowly but surely, the wife’s extra side job paid dividends and significantly helped them. However, there eventually came a point where the wife could no longer take it. It was becoming too humiliating to frequent the homes of her neighbors and local friends in pursuit of meager pay. And so the husband and wife decided to ask their Rav if they should consider leaving Beit Shemesh and seek to live in another community. Were they to sell their house, they would likely be able to secure eight-thousand dollars and pay off their debt.

Hearing of their plight, the Rav replied that he felt they should stay put and remain in Beit Shemesh. Turning to the wife, the Rav said, “Do you have a father? Why don’t you ask your father to help you?” Although it sounded like a good idea, the wife responded in the negative. “I don’t have a father; he passed away when I was very young.” That was all the Rav needed to hear. “If that is the case,” he began to say, “then you have more of a father than I do. The Torah tells us that Hashem is “the Father of orphans.” If your father is no longer in this world, Hashem is more of a Father to you. I have my father as an intermediary, while you do not. You can go straight to Hashem and ask him as a Father for help.”

Taking in the words of the Rav, the wife was puzzled. “I don’t know what you mean. How do I talk to G-d as if he were my real-life father?” It sounded as if it was a foreign concept to her. But the Rav was not troubled in the least. Telling her to act as if she was speaking to her own real-life father, he said, “Sit down at a table and picture Hashem sitting opposite you. Then tell him what you need. Say, ‘Hashem, it is very hard for us. Can you please help?’” But she still had trouble grasping the idea. “I don’t know how to talk to a father because I never did so.” Reassuring her that there was nothing to be afraid of, she finally complied to try it. “And you don’t have to worry that it is a recession now,” added the Rav. “Hashem is taking back all the money from everyone else; He has plenty to give you.”

A few days later, the Rav returned home only to see that a message was awaiting him. It was the woman from Beit Shemesh he had spoken to a few days ago. Listening to the message, it was clear that there was a tinge of excitement coming from her voice. But he couldn’t make out the details as her words were garbled. But he knew there awaited good news.

Immediately phoning the woman, she told him the following. “You won’t believe what happened! Shortly after we spoke, my mother-in-law prepared our tax returns which indicated that we were to receive a refund of three thousand dollars. However, upon reviewing the returns more carefully, we realized that mistakes were made. My husband was not comfortable filing them this way, and so he contacted our rabbi. He told us that we should not accept the three thousand dollars in error. We then proceeded to contact our accountant and asked him to go over the forms and see how they should be fixed. After going through them, he discovered that we were actually due to receive a larger refund.

And now, as we speak, I am holding a check in my hand…for eight thousand dollars. Exactly the amount we were in debt.
Sometimes we worry if and how everything will fall into place and work out. But we mustn’t feel too anxious. When our Father is looking after us, nothing is impossible. Even a debt and desperate set of circumstances can turn around and work to our betterment. All we must do is place our trust in Hashem and know that we are never alone in life.

Rabbi Daniel Glatstein
Holiness for Every Jew

קדשים תהיו

You shall be holy (Vayikra 19:2)

At the opening of this week’s Parasha, we are struck by a very unusual expression. The Pasuk says, “Speak to the entire congregation of the Jewish people.” While generally the Torah uses the phrase, “Speak to the Jewish people;” in this context, the Torah adds that the whole assembly of Klal Yisrael is to be present without exception. What was so special about Parashat Kedoshim which called for every single Jew to be in attendance?

When President Dwight Eisenhower met with the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, at one point he said, “It is very difficult to be the President of 170 million people.” Ben-Gurion responded, “You think that’s hard? It’s a lot harder to be the Prime Minister of two million prime ministers.”

There is something very important to be learned from what Ben-Gurion said. There is no such thing as a “simple Jew.” Although bumper stickers may announce, “I’m a pashute yid!” that refers to the fact that a Jew should be humble, eschew honor and bear insults without allowing it to derail him. However, when it comes to keeping mitzvot, learning Torah, spiritual growth and attaining holiness, there is no such thing as a “simple Jew.” Every Jew can achieve greatness and is expected to achieve greatness.

When youngsters are spoken to about striving for greatness, they are usually very attracted to the idea. Possessing much ambition, envisioning extraordinary goals and yearning for outstanding achievements, they recognize the relevance and meaning of high aspirations. But as one grows older and begins to raise a family, oftentimes the ambition of achieving greatness in spirituality begins to wane. We become jaded and feel complacent with our station in life.

Consciously or subconsciously, we make a decision to be what the Chazon Ish termed a “Beinoni b’shitah,” someone who deliberately settles for mediocrity. “What are we?” we ask ourselves. “An average Jew. I am going to remain the way I am. This is the extent of my spiritual goals and accomplishments, and I am content with staying this way.”

But the Torah tells us otherwise. “Kedoshim tihiyu,” you shall be holy. This passage was said to the entire Jewish nation because every single Jew, no matter their past or present situation, can achieve greatness. “Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be average, don’t be mediocre and don’t be good enough. Be great. Strive to be a great Jew who is proficient in all areas of Torah, davens with focus and meaning and lives an elevated life undeterred by all physical and worldly constraints.” That is what we are meant to strive for.

In this vein, we can borrow the line employed by Ben-Gurion, “We are all prime ministers.” We are all a part of a “Mamlechet kohanim,” a priestly nation (Shemot 19:6). We are not average. We are more than a “Pashute yid.”

The Gemara (Berachot 50a) speaks to this very idea:

“One should make requests of Hashem humbly as a poor man begging at the door (Rashi). But doesn’t the Pasuk say, “[I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt;] open your mouth wide and I will fill it”? (Tehillim 81:11) That refers to Torah study.”

As clearly illustrated by the Gemara, when it comes to spiritual matters, there are no limits. It is not unreasonable and out of any Jew’s reach to become a Torah giant and attain exceptional heights in spirituality.

This is what the aforementioned Pasuk in Tehillim is aimed at emphasizing – “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” Our enslavement in Egypt led us to an abyss whereby we sunk to the lowest of spiritual levels. Had we remained any longer in such a spiritually filthy environment, we would have fallen to a point of no return. Yet Hashem raised us out of our exile and elevated us to become His pristine nation which lives a sublime existence. How did that happen? It was because we yearned to live a life infused with holiness and G-dliness. When Hashem saw our deep-seated yearning to live this way, we were redeemed and brought close to Him at Har Sinai with the Giving of the Torah. The same is true of Torah study. Never should we limit our yearnings and high aspirations to become knowledgeable and proficient in all areas of Torah.

Rav Yaakov Neiman zt”l, renowned author of Darchei Mussar, further observes that in the world at large sanctity is typically relegated to clergymen and spiritual leaders. The average individual does not generally anticipate great levels of kedusha. But that is not the case for a Jew. In Parashat Kedoshim, Hashem told Moshe to gather every single Jew to hear his words for every Jew is in position to attain kedusha. It is not merely for the rabbis. Hashem, so to speak, picks up the Jew by the lapels and tells him, “Kedoshim tihiyu! You are not a simple Jew; you are an extraordinary Jew. Never be satisfied with mediocrity. You can become as great as you wish to become. Not even the skies are the limit.”

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
The Beautiful Moth

ואהבת לרעך כמוך

You shall love your fellow as yourself (Vayikra 19:18)

A young girl with special needs once came to me and said, “Rabbi, I want to tell you a story about a moth:

“There was once a grandmother sitting on a porch with her granddaughter. As they were enjoying each other’s company, a large number of butterflies began to surround them. But then all of a sudden, amid the many butterflies, a moth landed on the balcony. The granddaughter, noticing the moth and thinking that it was out of place next to the butterflies, took off her shoe to kill it. But her grandmother stopped her. “My dear child, don’t kill the moth.” “Why not?” the little girl asked. “Let me tell you the story of the moth,” the grandmother began.

“When Hashem first created the world, He made many butterflies. There were no moths which existed. As Shabbat was drawing near, Hashem then decided that He would create a colorful rainbow to show the world that He would never destroy it. The only problem was that Hashem had used all the colors up; there were none remaining. So He went to the butterflies and said, “Can you give me your colors so I can make a colorful rainbow?” To which the butterflies replied, “Hashem, we are not giving You our colors. You gave them to us and we are not giving them back.”

But then another group of butterflies approached Hashem. “Hashem, You are the Creator of the world. If You want to make a rainbow, we will gladly give up our colors for it.”

As the grandmother entranced her granddaughter with the story, she pointed to the moth her granddaughter was about to kill. “You see that moth? That was a butterfly that gave up its colors. There is more beauty to it than the butterfly which has all its colors.”

Hearing this story from a little girl with special needs, I understood what she was trying to say. Looking at the girl, I said to her, “I know why you are telling me this story. You are like the moth who gave up its colors. You gave up who you really are to somebody else in this world. That makes you so beautiful.”

Everyone in this world is beautiful. Some of us may shine forth like a butterfly and exude magnificent colors, while others may externally seem to be colorless and nothing special. But the truth is that we all shine forth with Divine beauty. Hashem blew into each and every one of us a precious neshama. And in fact, the greatest beauty is when we give of ourselves to others. The one who gives up their beauty is the one who shines forth with the most beauty. If we wish to truly brighten up the world with color, we are to give of our own beauty – our love and care – to our fellow brothers and sisters. And when we do so, the beauty with which we sparkle is breathtaking.

Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi
Shabbat Shalom!

ואת שבתתי תשמרו

And you shall observe my Sabbaths (Vayikra 19:3)

A non-observant Jew was once walking down the streets of Israel when he came across a lost parrot. Apparently, it had flown away from its owner and landed helplessly on the street. And so, caring about the survival and life of the parrot, this irreligious Jew brought it home.

Days passed by for the parrot in his new cage in a new home. Finally came Friday night. But for this individual, Shabbat was no different than any other day of the week. At least he thought so. That was soon going to come to an end.

Shabbat Shalom! Shabbat Shalom! The parrot began wishing his newly found owner a Shabbat Shalom! And again Shabbat Shalom! He couldn’t get enough of it. The entire Shabbat, all that could be heard out of the parrot’s mouth were these two resounding words: Shabbat Shalom!

The man got the message. He himself was to begin wishing others Shabbat Shalom! And in fact, he began his journey back to Yiddishkeit, returning to his roots. Much like a prophet in whose mouth the word of Hashem was placed and communicated, the same happened here. All thanks to a bird. Yes, a little bird.

A Short Message From
Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi

It is interesting to note that the words משפחה (family) and שמחה (happiness) share just about the same letters. The only difference lies in the letter pei, cognate to the word peh, meaning mouth. It is through expressing kind, encouraging and uplifting words to one’s spouse and children that happiness is infused into the home. The mouth is no less than the key to a happy home.

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