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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayikra

Parshat Vayikra

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayikra 5781                                                            Print Version
7th of Nissan, 5781 | March 20, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
Why is He There?

Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder and director of Ezer Mizion, a medical and social support organization, was once standing at the Kotel alongside a philanthropist. Together, they noticed a man standing a distance away and crying his eyes out. Rav Chollak commented to the wealthy fellow, “You know, if a Jew is crying like that, it can only be one of two things: a medical problem in his family or a financial problem in his family. I’ll make you a deal. If it is a medical issue, I’ll take care of it. If it’s a financial problem, you take care of it.”

The wealthy man listened to the offer, and acquiesced. Rabbi Chollak approached the man and said, “My name is Chananya Chollak, if you have a medical problem, I have the referrals and the doctors, and I can get you into anywhere you need.” “Thank G-d,” the fellow replied, “everyone in my family is healthy.”

Rabbi Chollak returned to the philanthropist and said, “You’re up.” Walking up to the man, he placed an arm around his shoulder and remarked, “Name the amount. You can even fill out the check, and I will give it to you.” The man replied, “Thank you very much. We don’t have much, but I am not in a situation where I need to receive tzedakah.” At this point, Rabbi Chollak grew curious and walked over to the man. “Why then are you crying if everything is well with you and your family?”

“You know,” the man explained, “I have twelve children, and after each one which I marry off, I come to the Kotel and I cry, for good finances for my family, a shidduch for my other children and so on. Thank G-d, Hashem has given me everything I’ve needed. Last night, I married off my last child, and I came to the Kotel to say Thank You to Hashem.”

Another plateau of prayer, aside from asking Hashem what we need, is thanking Him for what we have. It is not when we ask for something new, but rather when we simply stand in from of Him and thank Him for what we do have, even though there may be more that we are missing.

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 Yaakov Asher Sinclair
Every Day

One of the blessings we recite each morning is, “Blessed are You, Hashem, Who has not made me a non-Jew.” The question begs as to why we recite this blessing every day? Was there any chance that we might have woken up this morning and found that we were no longer Jewish? Why is this blessing not simply a one-time ordeal that we say as we become bar or bat mitzvah?

Being Jewish does not mean being on an unassailable platform of holiness. Rather, being holy entails struggling every day with the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, which can only be subdued with prayer, merit and the help of Heaven. Every day we thank Hashem for the privilege and responsibility of being created Jewish, and each day we wake up and become Jewish again, by reminding ourselves that being Jewish doesn’t mean just having the great Sea Splitting moments of spirituality in life; it means getting out of bed and being prepared to fight our own battles with the help of Hashem… each and every day.

Rabbi Eitiel Goldwicht
One Dollar

I remember as a kid, after I must have done something noteworthy, that my father handed me ten dollars. Without skipping a beat, he took the opportunity to teach me about the mitzvah of giving maaser, a tenth of my earnings to charity. And so I gave one dollar to tzedakah. My father then proceeded to ask me, “How much money do you have now?” “Nine dollars,” I proudly replied. My father then shared with me words that I have never since forgotten. “You know how much money you have left? One dollar. Those nine dollars you are still holding, you might lose them or spend them on candy, but the one dollar you gave to charity, no one can ever take that away from you. The reward in Heaven for that mitzvah is something that will last for eternity.”

Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein
What Money Cannot Buy

During my sister-in-law’s time spent in Sherut Le’umi, she was entitled to what is called Bituach Le’umi, National Insurance. On one occasion, she phoned the offices of Sherut Le’umi to find out more information relating to her entitlements as set forth by Bituach Le’umi. As an American girl and not too familiar with speaking Hebrew, she turned to a nearby friend and asked her to remind her the words to say to the phone attendant. Yet, despite the help, my sister-in-law said to the attendant, “Ani rotzah liknot bitachon atzmi,” which means, “I want to buy self-confidence.”

She had confused the words Bituach Le’umi (National Insurance) and Bitachon Atzmi (self-confidence).
The attendant on the other line couldn’t have put it any better. “Ani menahelet kesef; aval ani lo yecholah latet lach bitachon atzmi – I deal with money, but I’m not able to give you self-confidence.” Having all the money in the world does not translate into having self-confidence. That commodity is worth much more, and is found elsewhere.

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
Inspiring the Next Shoam

Over three years ago, my daughter had just finished mid-terms, and my wife and I decided to take her to a restaurant as a special treat.

We walked into the restaurant, took a seat and situated ourselves. However, as we were about to begin ordering our food, we overheard some commotion coming from nearby. We looked up and noticed that four women were seated, yelling at the waiter. They were complaining about their order and the quality of food served. But it was not some soft complaint, asking for the food to be heated up or the like. They were publicly embarrassing the waiter amidst hurling insults and grievances. It was even uncomfortable to watch.

While I should have walked over to the table as the rabbi of the community and politely asked the women to leave, I froze in my seat. A minute or so later, the young waiter silently walked away from the table, humiliated as can be. He was evidently tearing, but said not a word back to any of the women.

My wife immediately turned to me and said, “Eliyahu, ask the boy for a blessing! You know that if someone if humiliated, he has a special power to give blessings!” She was right, and so, I called over the boy and asked for his name and age. “Shoam,” he replied. “I’m twenty-two.” I went on to explain that I am a rabbi in the community and would like for him to give me and my family a blessing. He looked back at me with upsetting confusion. “Are you making fun of me? You want me to give you, the rabbi, a blessing?” “I’m serious,” I said. “You were just embarrassed, and you have the special ability to give a blessing. Please give me one…”

He went on to give us a blessing, after which I, along with my wife and daughter, responded with a resounding Amen. Shoam then left our table.

Five minutes later, he returned. It was clear that something had happened, as his eyes were full of tears. “Rabbi,” he said, “can I speak to you?” “Sure,” I replied. Shoam then began to detail his life story.

“I am now twenty-two years old. I was raised religious, though at age seven, I began becoming disinterested in learning and Judaism altogether, and slowly began becoming irreligious. I came to America when I was sixteen as an irreligious teenager, and eventually got married to an Argentinian irreligious girl.
“I am now ready to be chozer b’teshuva (become religious). If someone could reach out to me, like you did, and display that degree of care, asking me for a blessing, I am ready to become religious.”

I went on to partner Shoam with another man in our community, who devoted time to learn with him every day. Project Inspire in fact documented the story of Shoam in one of their previous Tisha B’av events, identifying it as one of the four most life-changing stories in recent times.

Shoam’s wife as well became religious, after which they moved to Israel and had a baby, which led to them eventually moving to North Miami Beach and becoming known as one of the most dedicated families in the community. Today, Shoam is learning with that same chavruta I set him up with.

Where did this all start? When he gave me that beracha.
Many times I have wondered what would have been if I did not call Shoam over. Where would he be today and where would I be today? That is the power of reaching out to someone. Read this today and walk away dedicated to helping the next Shoam… because there is one waiting for you to come along.

Rabbi YY Jacobson
Burning through Burnout

At the first encounter between Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu, Moshe is shepherding the flock of his father-in-law in the desert, when suddenly he notices a bush ablaze. The bush was burning with fire, yet the bush remained unconsumed. It was at this point that Hashem appointed Moshe to be the leader of the Jewish people, and charged him to emancipate the Jewish people from Egyptian tyranny, mold them into a nation and lead them to receive the Torah.

Yet, nowhere else in Tanach do we see this miraculous display of Hashem, as here in a Burning Bush, when He wishes to introduce himself to a prophet or great leader. Moreover, why from all potential miracles and encounters does G-d choose this image and vision of a burning bush, yet the bush not being consumed?

Moshe was about to accept upon himself the awesome task of leadership. He would need to stand up to oppression, revolt against Pharaoh and lead the Jews through forty difficult years in the desert until they would reach the Land of Israel.

One of the most difficult challenges of leadership, which so many of us experience throughout life, is defined by one word: burnout. How many people remark, “I’m just burned out…”? At the beginning of some endeavor or experience, there was a thrill and an electrifying joy, yet as the years go by, pressures grow, stresses intensify and arguments increase, and you just feel depleted. There is no more energy.

People begin business ventures, full of life and animation, yet then the daily grind just gets to them. When you look into their eyes, their passion has waned and a certain piece of them has died. The difficult challenges have burned them out. At that unique moment of the Burning Bush, Hashem was teaching Moshe Rabbeinu an eternal lesson, “Moshe, if your passion in life becomes about changing the world, liberating slaves from their suffering, creating a world full of justice, morality and kindness, I promise you that your bush will never be consumed. Your fire will never be extinguished. You will continue burning.”

Sometimes you look at your life, and you have no idea how long your fire can last. Yet if you dedicate your life to the purpose of kindling the human soul, if your passion becomes about changing humanity, elevating the world, changing the landscape of yourself, your family and your community, and making it a place of goodness and holiness, your bush will never be consumed and your fire will never burn out.

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