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Rabbi Reuven Semah
And the camel for it brings up his cud, but its hoof is not split" (Vayikra 11:4)
Our perashah dedicates a large portion of this week's reading to the laws of kosher and unkosher animals. The Torah gives us the important signs of kashrut, the split hoof and the chewing of the cud. Afterwards, the Torah warns us of four particular animals, three of which are the camel, the rabbit, and the shafan (a small animal resembling a woodchuck). These three are the only animals in the world that possess the ability of chewing their cud but don't possess the split hoof. The fourth is the pig. This is the only animal in the world that has a split hoof that doesn't chew its cud. Since these four animals possess only one sign, they are not kosher. The Talmud (Hulin 59b) notes that only the King of the world, Hashem, could make such a statement, that these four animal are the only ones that contain only one sign, and that there are no others! Nowadays, most of the world has been explored and studied, and we have all of the communication and traveling skills. It can be safely said that man has reached all four corners of the earth and has revealed all of the animal kingdom. Despite all of this knowledge, not one animal has been discovered to be a new addition to this list of four! G-d has revealed to us His dominion over this earth by making this statement that a fifth animal doesn't exist. Only G-d, Who knows all, can make such a statement. This is a clear proof of the existence of G-d. Why did Hashem reveal His complete rulership over the world in this particular misvah of kosher food? Our Sages teach us that the desire for eating is very powerful. It is a great test for man to control his eating, to eat only kosher. There may be some circumstances where the test of eating strictly kosher food is overpowering. Therefore, in order to help us combat this desire and help us pass the test, He reveals Himself as the King of the world beyond a shadow of a doubt. This knowledge will help convince us to abstain from eating the unkosher food. I, and all of the Rabbis of our community, look forward to the day when we can say that our community members only eat in restaurants that are kosher supervised, both dairy and meat. This will be our response to Hashem, that we do accept His complete rulership over His world. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
On the opening day of the Mishkan, Moshe told his brother, Aharon, "Step up and do the Divine service, for this is why you were chosen." The Midrash tells us that Aharon was reluctant to come forward because he kept on visualizing the Golden Calf before him, and he thought it was a sign that he was not fully forgiven. Hashem reassured him that he was indeed forgiven, and he was the one picked to lead the service. We learn from Aharon a wonderful trait. If a person does something wrong, don't be so sure it's forgotten so quickly. Generally, we tend to forgive ourselves much faster than we forgive others. When someone wrongs us we may hold a grudge or just remember it in our hearts, but if we do the same thing to others and we ask their forgiveness, we feel, "Let bygones be bygones." If we would realize that just as we don't forget so quickly, maybe others are the same way, we would be more hesitant before we do something wrong. And even if something did happen through us we would remember it longer, just like Aharon did, so that we would be more regretful, and this would lead to a complete reconciliation. Shabbat Shalom.
"Moshe said to Aharon, 'Come near to the altar.'" (Vayikra 9:7)
Rashi explains that Aharon was reluctant to approach the altar. Moshe said to him, "Why are you fearful? You were chosen for this position." How was the fact that he was selected supposed to dispel his fear and diffidence? A Hassidic Rebbe once encouraged a Hassid to become a Rabbi of a community. The Hassid was reluctant and said, "I am afraid to take the position. I doubt that I am suitable." The Rebbe responded, "Who, then, should I make a Rabbi? Someone who is not afraid? The fact that you are afraid makes you most suitable because you will always be careful in what you do." When Moshe saw Aharon's reluctance and fear, he said to him, "Come near to the altar. You are indeed the most suitable for the position. Because of your fear of Hashem, you were selected to be the Kohen Gadol." Alternatively, when Hashem revealed Himself to Moshe in the thorn bush, He pleaded with him to be His emissary to Pharaoh and to redeem the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Moshe was reluctant and when he told Hashem to find someone else for the mission, Hashem told him, "I originally planned for you to be Kohen Gadol. Now the mantle of Kehunah - priesthood - will go to your brother Aharon. Later, observing Aharon's reluctance to approach the altar, Moshe recalled his dialogue with Hashem and the punishment he received. Therefore, he urged his brother not to repeat his error. "Do it immediately without hesitation because you were selected instead of me due to my hesitation." (Vedibarta Bam)
"And the sons of Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, took each of them his censer, and put inside incense, and offered before Hashem strange fire, which He had not commanded them" (Vayikra 10:1)
In Torat Kohanim it is stated that Nadab and Abihu erred by not consulting Moshe for advice on whether it was proper for them to bring this incense. They also erred by not asking each other for advice. We see two important ideas from this. One, before doing something that is questionable, make certain to consult someone who is older and wiser. You might feel that what you are about to do is the right thing to do. But there are always aspects that you might have overlooked or were unaware of. The second thing we see is that if they were to have consulted each other they might not have erred. At first glance this seems puzzling, since they both did the same thing. But we see the principle that at times two people can do something, but if they would have discussed the matter between themselves they might have reached the conclusion that they should refrain from their behavior. Neither one might come to this conclusion on his own, but together they might. Develop the habit of discussing things with peers to see if there are reasons why you should to do some of the things you feel like doing. Growth through Torah)
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