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by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Parshas Emor II


Success In Marriage is Within Reach

When a bullock or a sheep or a goat is born, then shall it remain seven days with its mother; and from the eighth day onwards it shall be favorably accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
(Vayikra 22:27)

Rabbi Menachem Nachum Kaplan of Grodna had the custom of making the rounds of the shops every erev Shabbos to encourage the shopkeepers to close before Shabbos.

Once, when he was standing near a store and speaking to the shopkeeper, one of the nonreligious Jews of the town passed by the store. He grabbed Reb Nachum by his coat collar and began shouting at him. "Who appointed you to supervise us?" he sneered, and then he continued to insult Reb Nachum.

When the townspeople heard about the incident, they wanted to punish the man, but Reb Nachum insisted that they do him no harm, so as not to cause a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d's name). The man's wife also came to Reb Nachum to beg forgiveness for her husband.

Several weeks later, at exactly the same time on erev Shabbos, outside the same shop where Reb Nachum was insulted, the man was arrested by the police for transgressing one of the laws of the town. He was thrown into jail, and remained there for two years. This meant, of course, that his financial situation worsened considerably, as he was unable to earn a living. As a result his family came close to starvation. It was not until things had reached this point that the man realized that everything that had happened to him was from G-d, as a punishment for his having disgraced the holy Reb Nachum.

Whenever the Jews of Grodna had a problem they always turned to Reb Nachum, and he was always ready to help. He was the symbol of cbesed [kindness]. Thus, the wife of the Jew who was in jail came to beg him to give her and her children some financial support to help them in their dire situation. She then revealed to him that her husband had been in jail for the past two years.

Reb Nachum did not hesitate to help her, and he arranged support, and also food for her husband in jail. He did not stop at that, but even approached some of the wealthy townspeople and asked them to use their influence to get the man out of jail. Because they respected Reb Nachum so much, they were prepared to do this and were successful in freeing the man from jail.

When the man realized that his release and his family's welfare resulted from Rab Nachum's kindness he was repentant, and he became one of Reb Nachum's greatest admirers. When he got back on his feet, he gave large amounts of money to charity, and he always respected talrnidei chachamz'rn (Torah scholars). (K’ZES HA-SHEMESH BI-GVURASO, p. 163)

Reb Nachum was a giant in doing cbesed. He should be an example for those who wish to succeed in marriage, which is based on chesed.

Rabbi Brechya said in the name of Shimon, "G-d said, 'There are ten kosher animals that I have given to you. Three are readily available, and seven are notreadily available. The three that are available are oxen, sheep, and goats. The seven that are not available are deer, etc. I did not make it difficult for you by saying that you should ascend the mountains and tire yourselves in the forests to bring a sacrifice from those animals that are not already in your possession, but rather I asked of you to bring from those which are easily available, and feed in your feeding place [referring to the trough from which a domestic animal feeds].' That is why the verse says, 'A bullock or a sheep or a goat. It is these animals which are kosher for sacrifices."

"A bullock or a sheep or or a goat." "A bullock" was chosen to be brought to the Beis Ha-mikdash as a sacrifice in the merit of Avraham, as it is written, "And to the oxen ran Avraham. "A sheep" was in the merit of Yitzchak, as it is written, "And he saw that there was a ram [male sheep.]”. “A goat" was in the merit of Ya'akov, as it is written, "Go please to the sheep, and take for me two good young goats." In the merit of your doing My will, your descendants will have the right to bring a goat as a sacrifice.

"Then shall it remain seven days" before it can be sacrificed. The Torah commanded us to wait a period of seven days after the animal is born before it can be sacrificed. Why seven days? This allows enough time to check if it will develop a blemish which would render it unacceptable for sacrifice. Another explanation is that this is comparable to a king who entered a country and said, "I will not accept anyone for an interview until he first sees the queen.

" So did G-d also say, "You shall not bring Me a sacrifice until a Shabbos passes in the life of the animal, for there are not seven days without Shabbos, and there is no circumcision without Shabbos."

"And from the eighth day onwards it shall be favorably accepted for an offering." The same law applies for a person as for an animal. For a person, "And on the eighth day you shall circumcise." And also for the animal, "And from the eighth day onwards."

(YALKUT 643) Why did G-d not want to trouble us with extra effort when it came to determining which animals are kosher for sacrifices, when in general we say that it is good to toil for mitzvos? What was the special attribute of each of our forefathers, as symbolized by the aforementioned animals? There must be a Shabbos in the animal's life before it can be sacrificed; what is the connection between Shabbos and offering a sacrifice? What is the connection between circumcision and offering an animal as a sacrifice?

Sacrifices to G-d are manifestations of our feelings of closeness to Him. The Ramban writes that when a person brings a sacrifice he should feel as if everything that is done to the animal should have been done to him. He should have been slaughtered, his blood should have been spilled, etc. In other words, a person should feel so close to G-d that he is willing to give his life for Him.

Therefore G-d wanted sacrificial animals to be readily accessible, so that no one could say that to be close to G-d requires great effort. just as these animals are available and readily at hand, so is closeness to G-d easily attained by anyone who truly wants it. In fact, we can understand that drawing close to G-d is as untroublesome as walking into your back yard and choosing an animal. That is why Scripture says, "Torah is not in Heaven, that you should say, 'Who shall go up to heaven to get it for us?" “Torah and closeness to G-d can be obtained by everyone. This does not contradict the idea that it is good to toil for mitzvos. Even though it is good to toil, still we must be aware that attachment to G-d is always possible.

Certain animals were involved in the great trials which our forefathers encountered. Avraham was ill on the third day after his circumcision, and yet he went out to seek guests so that he could do the mitzvah of chesed. He did not let himself tire when he saw there was an an opportunity to do a mitzvah, but rather exerted himself even though he lacked strength. In the merit of his exertion to do mitzvos, we have the right to bring a bullock as a sacrifice, since it was an ox that Avraham slaughtered and fed to the guests whom he had found.

Yitzchak's trial was the Akeida, where he allowed himself to be sacrificed to G-d and offered his life up on the altar. This he did without any hesitation, and only because G-d intervened was he prevented from carrying this through to the end. The animal that was sacrificed in place of Yitzchak was a ram. As a result of Yitzchak's great self-sacrifice in the service of G-d we have the right to bring a sheep as a sacrifice in the Bets Ha-mikdash.

Ya'akov's trial was to listen to his mother, who had told him to disguise himself as his brother, Esav, in order to trick his father into giving him Esav's blessings. This was against Ya'akov's nature, as he was known for his outstanding temimus (straightforwardness). This deception was difficult for him because internally he was vehemently opposed to the idea of cheating his brother. The animals that were used in this trial for Ya'akov were two goats. Since his trial included these animals, we have the right to bring goats as sacrifices in the Bet's Ha-mz'kdash.

"You shall not bring for me a sacrifice until a Shabbos will pass." Shabbos is a time set aside for us to stop our worldly toil and to dedicate ourselves to drawing close to G-d. In this way we are acknowledging that G-d created the world. We affirm by our actions that He is the Creator and we are to be His devoted servants. G-d wanted every animal to live through a Shabbos before it is sacrificed, so that we may realize that there is a deep connection between sacrifices and Shabbos. That connection is that just as on Shabbos we feel a special closeness to G-d, so too affinity to G-d is the essential purpose of offering a sacrifice.

A similar idea applies to circumcision. Circumcision is a permanent testimony to the covenant we have with G-d. We make this sign on our bodies to show that we are dedicated servants of G-d. just as a servant often carries some mark for identification, so too do we concretely show that we are servants of G-d. Being servants of G-d necessitates both a special closeness to Him and our wish to serve Him always. That, we have seen, is also the idea of Shabbos, where we concentrate only on our connection and service to Him. This is also the link between circumcision and bringing a sacrifice. Both clearly demonstrate that we are servants of G-d, and both are ways of coming close to Him.

Show How Much You Care

The idea of G-d choosing animals that are easily available suggests that it is not so hard to be close to G-d. This same idea is true of marriage. Some people think of the demands of marriage as being so formidable that it is impossible to succeed. They assume that since each partner has his or her own interests, it is almost impossible to find any common interests between them. But the truth is that it is not so difficult to have a successful marriage and to maintain a feeling of closeness to one another.

The key to success is to remember that something should be done every day to show your spouse how much you care. Every day you must ask yourself, "What can I do today to make my spouse happy?" Perhaps give them some help with their tasks, a smile, or a little gift. And you should not just make an outward show, you must really mean it in your heart.

Your attitude should be that you want to be a "giver" in marriage. Then it will follow that you will constantly look for opportunities to show your love and make your spouse happy. If that is the goal of both partners in a marriage, then they will enrich each other's lives immensely and mutual happiness is assured.

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