April 10, 1999 17 Nisan 5759
Day 9 of the Omer
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And do not defile your souls with any vermin which crawls on the earth, for I am Hashem Who brought you up from the land of Egypt" (Vayikra 11:44-45)
Normally, when the Torah reminds us that Hashem freed us from Egyptian servitude, it uses the term "hamosee - Who brought you out." Here, however, the Torah says "hama'aleh - Who brought you up," to teach us that abstaining from forbidden foods, and especially from the forbidden species of vermin, has an uplifting effect on a Jew.
The Sages (Yoma 39a) gave a homiletic interpretation of the previous verse "venimetem bam - and you will be defiled by them [if you eat them]." The defilement referred to is that the heart would be blocked, as it were, resulting in insensitivity to spiritual concerns.
On the other hand, someone who is careful about what he eats will have an open heart and find it easier to develop a benevolent outlook toward his fellow man. This is the "bringing up" that Hashem spoke of in our verse, an elevation of the spirit from the pride, selfishness and cruelty that characterized the Egyptian mentality. May we be privileged to carefully watch what we eat so that our souls are elevated to get closer to Hashem. Shabbat Shalom.
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And when Moshe heard that, it seemed right in his eyes." (Vayikra 10:20)
The Torah records an unusual discussion between Moshe and Aharon. The debate revolves around the halachah whether Aharon, who was a mourner at the time as a result of losing his two sons, was allowed to eat from a korban or not. When Aharon told Moshe the halachah, Moshe realized that Aharon was right. Rashi says that Moshe admitted immediately that he was wrong, and did not try to hide that fact by saying that he didn't receive that information from Hashem. On the contrary, he said he heard Aharon's halachah from Hashem but he forgot it! What was the great praise of Moshe that he said he forgot?
Rashi is showing us Moshe's great love of truth. Moshe was the one who received the Torah at Mount Sinai and was the one responsible to pass it on to the Jewish nation. If it is possible for Moshe to forget, he is jeopardizing the reliability of his mission to transmit the Torah intact. People might say, "Who knows what else Moshe forgot?" Nevertheless, Moshe admitted that he forgot. Moshe felt that from the truth we will not be harmed. He was such a lover of truth that he didn't want to hold it back.
In a certain sense, every generation's leaders have the responsibility of Moshe Rabenu. At times, there is a great temptation to hide the truth of the Torah to accommodate a generation which seems to need compromises in order to observe the Torah. A slight change by one generation leads to the next generation's total abrogation of the Torah. "Moshe is true and his Torah is true." Shabbat Shalom.
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