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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tazria

Parshat Tazria

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Tazria                                                                    Print Version
1 Nissan, 5782 | April 2, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yossi Bensoussan
True Freedom

Freedom. It’s a powerful word and we’ve heard it many times. But what does it not mean?

It does not mean that we follow every desire we have. As a matter of fact, that is the most distant life from freedom. When we do not attempt to restrain ourselves, it may seem that we are free. But in truth, we are far from it. We are being controlled. We are imprisoned by our temptations and desires.

We wouldn’t call it prison, because this kind of freestyle life is unrestricting. We don’t need to think twice or answer to anyone. But who said prison cannot have its temporary moments of comfort?

What then is true freedom? It is the ability to choose. It’s the power to choose the path of more resistance, to do something that is difficult and uncomfortable, because we know that is what we should do. That is why when we overcome an obstacle, we feel amazing. Overcoming a challenge is a full-proof way to experience euphoria.

The person who answers to nothing bigger than himself may experience freedom to do whatever he likes, but just ask how he feels after indulging in his temptation. Empty, because he hasn’t accomplished what he could with his life.

What then is true freedom? It is choosing what is right over what is easy. It is putting up a fight to forego momentary pleasure for a world of eternity. It is difficult, and that is precisely why it leaves us so fulfilled afterwards.

Make the choice. Choose freedom.

Mr. Charlie Harary
The Silent Voice

The Giving of the Torah was, quite literally, an awesome experience. Thunder and lightning covered the sky, as the earth shook and fire raged on

Hundreds of years later, Eliyhau HaNavi returned to the very same site for a rendezvous with the false prophets of Baal, an idolatrous cult. In preparing for a showdown, Eliyahu awaited G-d’s encounter, which would serve to prove the farce of the Baal worship and prove the sole existence and authority of Hashem, G-d of the Jews.

Yet, at this historical juncture, G-d did not manifest Himself in any way similar to the grand experience of Har Sinai. Eliyahu looked to the great and strong winds that swept past him, but G-d’s presence was not found. Neither was it in the subsequent earthquake or fire.

It was rather in the “Kol de’mama daka – soft, silent voice” that followed. That was where G-d revealed His presence to Eliyahu and the idolatrous worshippers. G-d showed Himself in silence.
Experiencing G-d’s presence and communication does not always require all-powerful splitting of seas or six-day miraculous wars. It is to find G-d in the silence in the world and the silence in our lives. We may wish for Him to communicate to us loud and clear, as bright and brilliant as the day of Matan Torah, but that is not how day-to-day life is. He rather speaks to us through the very medium of our own life experiences as individuals, families, communities and a nation.

What goes on around us in the world is G-d communicating. He is always speaking to us. Sometimes, it is just in the form of a soft, silent voice. The only question is: are we listening?

Rabbi YY Jacobson
Love and Respect

In a relationship, what is the difference between love and respect?

Love is an expression of feeling one with another, identifying with them, and experiencing a union that fuses two into one. We are bound together with strong ties of mutual devotion and affection. Respect, on the other hand, is borne out of knowing that the other is in fact separate and distinct from ourselves. They are outside our immediate sphere, possess a uniqueness that is chiseled and carved out by their own individualism, and beyond our touch of similarity. It is with our deepest respect that we honor that very boundary of difference and separation.

By and large, it is much more difficult to respect another than love them. Loving our parents, our children or our siblings carries a naturalness to it. There is an innate context for affinity and connection with them. Respect, however, calls for a deep measure of identification with their individualism and independence, divorced from our own perspectives and wishes.

Practically, our children are loved by us without measure, and it is undeniably because we want the best for them. But our children are also distinct individuals, separate from ourselves. And to appreciate that difference, we must show our deepest respect for who they are, and not who we want them to be.

This is why Avraham didn't search for a wife for Yitzchak, but delegated the responsibility to Eliezer. Avraham knew that if he would do so, he would choose a woman like his own wife, Sarah. But Sarah was a strong-willed woman, and Avraham knew that Yitzchak didn’t need that. Avraham, whose natural tendencies were for kindness and selflessness, needed the tenacity and strength that Sarah provided. But Yitzchak epitomized strength, and Rivkah, with her graceful devotion, would perfectly complement him. To search for a wife that mirrored Sarah would be doing what Avraham saw fit, and not what Yitzchak needed.

Avraham remains a prime example of what it means to not only love your child, but respect who he is and what he needs. He is the role model for all generations of balancing true love and respect.

Rabbi Leor Dahan
Foolish Thinking

Amalek is the representation of taking G-d out of the equation of life. Now what does this look like in modern times?

A 2014 Washington Post article was titled, “No, really: There is a scientific explanation for the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus.” The article elucidates how science can explain the phenomena behind a natural splitting of the sea for the Jews, and how it could make logical sense that it would crash down upon the pursuing Egyptians. The truth is that such an argument is foolish. Not because it is scientifically askew, but because even if we grant every single word true from a scientific lense, how do you not see G-d a part of it?

Let’s say that it was all rooted in scientific theory, and there was a particular wind that promoted the events to unfold as such. That is all fine, but don’t see you G-d? Any denial of Him is the epitome of what Amalek stood for. It is the obstinacy to deny the true origin. Yes, the ground shakes because there's such a scientific phenomenon called an earthquake, and there's a huge swirl of wind which is termed a hurricane. But where does that science come from?

You know the answer.

Rabbi Avi Slansky

Getting used to something is not always a good thing, because you can get used to anything, even diamonds. Every day we pick up diamonds, but we miss seeing their value. You recite one blessing, which takes moments, but it’s precious. Really precious. You show up to shul right as the last Kaddish is being said, catching the final Amein ye’hei shmei Rabbah of many. You’re walking out of that shul with a diamond.

We tend not to look at our actions this way. But, without question, it’s true.

You’re faced with a challenge in life. G-d is testing you in that one area that you’ve fallen more times that you can remember, and you hold out for a few minutes longer than the last time. That’s worth something. Of course you wanted to beat the challenge and walk away feeling an air of victory, and you aren’t, but you delayed the gratification for longer than before. Don’t diminish that.

If we’d value what we do routinely as a Jew, we’d feel differently about our relationship to G-d and to ourselves. You showed up late, you left early, but you showed up. Tomorrow you’ll get there on time. But today, you were there and Hashem values that. Value that yourself.

You’ve done great, and the best is yet to come.

Rabbi Yosef Palacci
The Boss

Before Josh entered the business world, he ventured off to learn in a yeshiva in Israel for two years. Josh was not a religious man though, by any means, and his uncharacteristic decision to devote his day and night to Torah study was shocking. Inquiries from family and friends always circled back to the same answer, leaving them with quizzical expressions on their faces, especially if they knew Josh really well.

“I know I’m not religious and the people learning in yeshiva are religious, but I know one thing for sure. I know who the boss is. I know that when I want to make a sale, it’s not my customer alone who buys it. It’s G-d Who puts into the man’s mind that he wants to purchase my product. So I therefore decided, before I start working, let me get close to the boss.”

Josh’s business was flourishing a few years after he began, and he attributed it to his relationship with Hashem, “the Boss of the World.” Every morning before beginning work and every night after finishing work, he acknowledged that it was G-d that determined his success.

Live with such an attitude yourself, and you’ll have a different experience in your own line of work, and more importantly, in your life overall. Because if you’re close to the Boss, you’re close to everything you need to be successful.

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