January 21-22, 2011 17 Shebat 5771
"You shall not ascend with steps upon My Mizbeah" (Shemot 20:23)
The end of our perashah discusses the construction of the altar. If the Kohanim were required to mount the altar on steps, the raising of their legs as they walked up would seem to expose their private parts to those steps, and the Torah frowns upon even the slightest suggestion of immodesty. Therefore, the Kohanim walked up to the altar on a ramp, so their legs would move evenly. The last verse of the perashah contains a great lesson in sensitivity. The altar and steps are inanimate objects which would not be conscious of the anatomy of the Kohanim. If the Torah commands us to refrain from shaming them, surely a person should be careful never to cause shame or embarrassment to living breathing human beings (Rashi).
Rabbi Menachem Manis Mandel was one of the great Torah educators of our time. For over sixty years he led the Yeshivah of Brooklyn. Rabbi Mandel was very involved with the education of the students but nevertheless he undertook the burden year after year to personally handle student registration. One time-consuming aspect of that was to negotiate tuition contracts with individual parents. When the Rabbi was well advanced in years he was asked why he didn't give that job over to someone else. He explained that there are many parents who have difficulty making ends meet for a variety of reasons. Parents are very concerned and rightfully so, that such information remain confidential. They shared this private information with Rabbi Mandel knowing that it would remain a secret between them. He was reluctant, therefore, to have anyone else privy to this information, even though it meant that he would have to continue to spend countless hours busy with registration. A great sacrifice by a great saddik to save others from shame. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And you shall not go up the altar on steps so as not to reveal your nakedness." (Shemot 20:23)
The last verse in this perashah tells us that when we construct the ramp leading to the Mizbeah, altar, it should be a flat surface going upwards, not like stairs. The reason is that when one walks up stairs he must take a wider step which might reveal those parts of the body which should be covered. But with a flat ramp, a person can take smaller steps, without having this problem. Rashi points out that in actuality there really was no problem since the Kohanim were very well clothed and there was no possibility of anything being revealed. The Torah is teaching us, however, that this is a sign of disrespect to the ramp to walk that way and therefore we were commanded to build a flat ramp. The real lesson is not limited to the way we treat the stairs. Rather, if we should even be careful with something which has no feeling, like stairs, how much more so with people, who have feelings.
It is instructive that this verse is in the same perashah as the giving of the Torah because it is teaching us the way to be able to receive the Torah. If we treat other people, and even inanimate objects, with respect, then we show that we appreciate the qualities of people and of objects. Then we can learn from them and that is part of the process of receiving the Torah. If, however, we don't have respect for belongings or for people themselves, we will not be able to learn from others, even those who are supposed to be teaching us Torah. It is no wonder that when we see the quality of education dropping in society, the amount of respect for people and for values is dropping proportionally. We would do well to strengthen ourselves and our families in these positive values so that we could properly receive the Torah. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Who died at Har Sinai sanctifying Hashem's Name? Why?
Hur was killed at Har Sinai when he tried to defend the honor of Hashem by protesting when B'nei Yisrael worshipped the Golden Calf. His death was not in vain. In the merit of his extreme loyalty to Hashem he merited to have a descendant (Betsalel) who made the Mishkan, which atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf. (Torahific)
So many people complain about their partners. "Can't live with them and can't live without them."
Our Rabbis give many examples of things people do which make them partners with Hashem in His creative activities. One who says Kidush on Friday night, or one who judges a case to a truthful conclusion, are just two examples of human partnership with Hashem. A bride and groom are partners who can build a peaceful new home if they join with Hashem. A husband and wife are two of the three partners in the creation of a new baby; Hashem is the third.
A learning partner helps his friend understand the complexities of Torah. Business partners reduce one another's stress by taking responsibility for different aspects of their shared enterprise. Parents share the burden -and the pleasure - of raising children.
One great Sage thanked Hashem for the myriads of people that He created to take care of his personal needs. No one can do it all. There is no person who can survive alone.
When a situation arises in which you must partner with someone else, appreciate the help Hashem has provided for you. Gratitude doesn't cost anything, and it will increase your love for your Creator and your fellow man. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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