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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayikra

Parshat Vayikra

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayikra                                                                  Print Version
9th of Adar II, 5782 | March 12, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
The Honor of the King

The Torah teaches us that Moshe Rabbeinu was the humblest of all men, and when God told Moshe to write the first word in this week's Torah portion, Vayikra, meaning, “And He called,” Moshe wrote the end of the word with a little aleph. The aleph is the letter of the “I,” of the ego. Moshe wrote the aleph so small that it looks as though the word says Vayikar, which means, “And he happened upon.” This means that Moshe Rabbeinu wasn't important enough for G-d to intentionally call to him, rather as the humblest of all men, he felt as though G-d just happened upon him, so to speak.

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe used to say that it escaped him how anyone could actually enjoy being honored. Surely this honor would just cause a person acute embarrassment. All honor is only due to G-d, and the only reason we get respect is for those virtues that G-d has given us.

Once, there was a king who appointed an official to govern a provincial town. As the governor of this town, the official received a great deal of respect from the local inhabitants. Now it happened one day that the king arrived in town to see how his official was doing, and the king had decided to travel incognito, and didn't look like anybody special. Only the official knew the king's true identity. As they passed through the town, the inhabitants tipped their caps with great respect to the official and completely ignored the ordinary looking stranger who was with him. Understandably, the more respect and honor the official received, the more embarrassed and uncomfortable he became. He knew that all this respect should rightfully belong only to the king.

The smaller we make our own ego, our aleph, the greater is the honor of the king.

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
Purim And Putin

“Zachor, Remember what Amalek did to you when you were leaving Egypt. That he happened upon you on the way, and he cut off the weak ones at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear HaShem... you shall not forget.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 25: 17-19)

On the Shabbos preceding Purim, we read Parshas Zachor, a parshah of remembrance, recalling the cruel actions of Amalek.

Following the Exodus, Amalek staged an unprovoked attack upon the Jewish nation, targeting the women and children, the weak and weary, the elderly and infirm, those who were lagging behind. Amalek exhibited its brazenness by attacking the most vulnerable.

Generations later, Haman, a descendent of Amalek, continued on with the evil of his ancestors. He had his own Final Solution, issuing an edict “l’hashmid, la’harog, u’l’abed, to destroy, to kill and to exterminate” the Jewish nation living in the many provinces of Achashverosh’s empire. (Megillas Esther 3:13)

Unfortunately, there will always be Hamans in the world. The names and faces change, but the wicked continue to exist. In modern times, we experienced Hitler’s Holocaust, and in recent years, the tragic evil of terrorism. Today, the world is confronting yet another face of Amalek, emanating from Russia.

Amalek targeted the weak and weary, as Russia, in its determination to conquer Ukraine, is targeting innocent civilians. So may lives in upheaval. So much pain. So much destruction.

I heard a radio interview with a woman who had elderly parents living in Mariupol. She was crying. Her parents were not strong enough to leave the city. Each time she spoke with them, she wondered if it would be the last time she would hear their voices.

Our Ukrainian Jewish brothers and sisters have been thrown into the midst of this turmoil. In an interview in Mishpacha magazine, Rebbetzin Inna Markovitch, wife of Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch, described how she gathered the Jewish residents to the community center. “There are no bomb shelters in Kyiv, and we have no official instructions what to do in case of an emergency. We don’t know how long our supplies will hold out.” She spoke about a group of Holocaust survivors in a retirement home. How the boom of the missiles brought back painful and difficult memories. How she davened with them, trying to calm their fears.

As an update, the Rebbetzin shared that Ukrainian security forces told her husband that the Russians were bringing in brutal anti-Semitic Chechen and Muslim forces. They told the Rabbi and his family to evacuate, as their obvious Jewish look and dress would make them an instant target. Instead of helping the Jewish community, their presence could actually endanger them further.

How frightening. Once again, Jewish people are forced to flee. (See the video below of the Rabbi and others in Kyiv removing the Torah Scrolls as they prepare to leave the city. So sad. It can make you cry.)

We read Parshas Zachor as a reminder that evil has yet to be eradicated. As Jews, we must be aware of the Amaleks in the world around us.

In a few days, we will be celebrating Purim. The Megillah tells us that the name Purim comes from the word “pur”, Persian for lottery. However, the question remains, why do we call the holiday Purim? The lottery was Haman’s weapon, the first of many steps in his plan to destroy the Jewish people. Why not recall the miracle of our nation’s survival, as in Pesach, when we are reminded of HaShem’s passing over Bnei Yisroel when He struck the Egyptians? Or Chanukah, whose name recalls the rededication of the Bais HaMikdash?

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, suggests that the word Purim conveys a powerful message. Life is like a lottery. One can never be too sure, too certain of his tomorrow. There are no guarantees. Just because everything is going great, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way.

Here too lies a connection to the people of Ukraine. One day they were going to work, the children were off to school, everyone was going about their normal routine, and then, the unthinkable happened. Suddenly, they are in the midst of a war, bombs and missiles raining down upon them, and having to hunker down to save their lives.

While Megillas Esther means the Scroll of Esther, there is a deeper understanding. “Megaleh”, to reveal the “hester”, the hidden. HaShem’s name does not appear in the Megillah, for the miracle of Purim is a hidden one. One could look at the story of Purim and say that it was all in the natural course of events. Esther coincidentally was taken to the palace, placing her in a position to be an advocate for her people. Mordechai coincidentally overheard the plot to kill Achashverosh, bringing the King to give him a position of honor. But we know that there are no coincidences, as everything is orchestrated by HaShem.

To reveal the hidden. “Va’tilokach Esther, and Esther was taken” to the palace. The Megillah emphasizes that she did not go by choice – she was taken. The Jewish inhabitants of Shushan must have been asking, “How could this have happened”. Haman then issued an edict against the Jewish nation. Surely, they were filled with fear and trepidation. They lived through a time of hester panim, HaShem hiding His ways. We too may feel that HaShem’s hand is hidden from us. But HaShem never abandons His people, only conceals Himself to be revealed later.

How did Esther survive in the palace of Achashverosh? The answer can be found in her name. Within Esther, are the Hebrew letters ת,ר, סmeaning hidden. HaShem’s guiding hand was hidden, but the letters are proceeded by an א, representing emunah, faith and trust in the One-and Only. It was Esther’s strong emunah in HaShem that enabled her to not only survive, but become a heroine of her people.

Esther turned to HaShem with tefillah. Not only did she herself pray, but she asked Mordechai to similarly gather together all of the Jewish people in prayer.

Rav Moshe Moskovitz, the Chabad emissary in Kharkiv, writes about Shabbos morning during the bombardment of the city. He went to shul expecting to find it empty. Instead, he amazingly found thirty people ready to daven. When he asked them why they weren’t in a shelter, they all replied that they would rather be davening. What belief!

As the generation of Mordechai and Esther experienced a “v’nehapachu”, a turnover from sorrow to gladness, from mourning to celebration, may we too experience only good, peace and tranquility for Am Yisroel and the entire world in the days ahead.

Mr. Charlie Harary
Always Learning

It’s a topic that spans books, magazines, articles, seminars, courses and more. What does it take to be a great leader? G-d gives us a nugget, a little bit of wisdom, as to one of the key qualities of leadership. And He talks about one of the greatest leaders of all time, a man named Joshua.

A few weeks ago, we read all about Moshe. He's the centerpiece. But in one half verse, tucked away in the corner, is a soundbite that contains an enormous amount of wisdom. Here’s the background.

The Jews sin with the Golden Calf. As a result, G-d distances Himself from them until they reconcile. Therefore, Moshe, in order to speak to G-d, has to leave the Jewish camp. He sets up outside the camp and he goes out and speaks to Him. The Torah describes this, and does so by adding in a few words, “And his attendant, Yehoshua ben Nun, the boy, would not leave the tent [of Moshe]” (Shemos 33:11).

The problem is that Yehoshua at this time is not a young boy. He is a grown man. Moreover, Yehoshua led the Jewish people in battle before, when the Jews fought against Amalek. Yehoshua was a war hero. Yehoshua as well would be chosen soon, amongst the Spies, to scout out the Land of Israel. How then can he be called a boy? It would seem to be denigrating to Yehoshua, considering the type of man he is exhibiting himself to be.

So many times in life, when you look at leaders, if you look closely, you'll find that there's one characteristic that separates them. A lot of different things make up leadership, but I want to zero in on one.

Nobody grows in life without being a receiver, without receiving from others. When you go to school, when you're with your family, when you're at work, in order to grow at any level, you have to receive from somebody. You have to get it, even if it's from a book, you have to receive it. If you really look at people that have grown to leadership, usually in the process of their growth, they're receiving from others. But sometimes, what happens with certain leaders is that as they grow in stature, they start becoming only givers, only influencers. They're the ones that are teaching, that are leading, and that are managing. And in the process of doing so, the muscle of receiving, the muscle of the humility, the muscle of “there's someone greater than me” can start to atrophy. They've spent so much time being the one giving that they almost forget what it's like to put their head down and receive. As they grow to levels of grander stature, you can almost sense that they've lost their ability to receive, to learn from anybody, to appreciate those that are not like them, to be humble, to say they don't know.

G-d granted us an insight on what it means to be a real Jewish leader. Joshua really was the first leader that took over from a leader. Moshe was the greatest of all time, and he was number one. But the tradition passed on to, Joshua, who at the time was 56 years old. Joshua received an incredible amount from Moshe, and thus, to be called the attendant of Moshe is a big compliment. Yehoshua’s was Moshe Rabbeinu’s right-hand man.

Yet, the Torah refers to Yehoshua as a “naar,” a boy, to drive home the point that he never stopped receiving. Even as a leader, he always remained humble, hungry and eager to learn and receive more knowledge and insight as to how to do better.

The word “naar” points to a person in his receiving stages, and it teaches us that as great as Yehoshua was, was when it came to learning from Moshe, his mentor, he never stopped being a boy. He always remembered to put his head down. He's always remained humble. He taught and he learned. He gave and he received. He led and he followed.

That's what it means to be a Jewish leader. Always be someone who puts his head down. There's always someone you ask your questions to. There's always someone you have in your life that you're able to learn from. At the end of the day, we know that it all comes from G-d. That's humility, real humility, and that is the greatest asset of a leader.

And maybe throughout all of Yehoshua’s greatness, between not being swayed by the spies and leading the nation into Israel, and doing all the great things he did; maybe his greatest trait was that as great as he became, he never stopped being that servant of Moshe. He never lost his humility. As a man, he always remained anchored to the youth within, the boy within, who searches to become better. That is the quality of a true man. A man to lead the nation, the Jewish people, the children of G-d.

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