MARCH 7-8, 2014 6 ADAR iI 5774
"He called to Moshe and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying." (Vayikra 1:1)
From the very beginning of the book of Vayikra, we learn about the character trait of humility, and how critical it is in the service of Hashem. The first word of Vayikra is written with a small aleph. Moshe Rabenu wanted to leave it out completely, because vayikra tells us that Hashem appeared to him when he was awake and spoke to him face to face. Without the aleph it says "vayikar" which means that his conversation with the Almighty was really only a chance meeting. Although Hashem told Moshe to write it with an aleph, Moshe nevertheless, because of his great humility, wrote it with a small aleph.
One might have thought the Torah would praise Moshe because of his other great traits, but it chose to praise him for his humility. The small aleph sets the tone for the entire perashah as we are introduced to the world of korbanot, which cause a person to humble himself before Hashem.
Rabbi Yechiel Spero tells a beautiful true story about a great Rabbi, Rabbi Salman Mutzafi. Rabbi Mutzafi, a great Sephardic Sage, was known for his humility. He abhorred honor and refused to be called Hacham." Only one time did he reluctantly agree to that appellation. When he came to Israel in the year 1935, he brought with him his entire library. He had a tremendous love and appreciation for his holy books.
At the border, the authorities informed him that he had to pay a large tax, well beyond what he could afford. Only a Hacham, they explained, was exempt from the tax. He was then faced with a terrible dilemma. If he didn't admit that he was indeed a scholar, he would be confronted with the prospect of leaving his beloved books behind.
Reluctantly, he admitted that he did learn and teach from those books. The authorities then labeled his books as belonging to a Hacham, and he was able to bring them into the country without paying the tax.
However, when he arrived at his home after a long journey he told the story with great frustration and pain to the sadik Rav Tzadka Chutzin. With tears of regret, Rav Salman lamented, "It would have been worthwhile to leave my entire library behind at the border just so that they would not call me a Hacham." Shabbet Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"If a soul will bring a sacrifice" (Vayikra 2:1)
When a person brings a regular sacrifice, the Torah uses the word adam, a man, but when a poor person brings a sacrifice then the word used is nefesh, soul. The Rabbis tell us this means that G-d considers this poor man who struggled so hard to bring a sacrifice as if he brought his very soul to Hashem.
This lesson is not limited only to donating to charity. Rather, anyone who is limited in any field and nevertheless tries his hardest to do something in the service of G-d, even though the actual accomplishment may be modest, Hashem considers the effort as if the person brought his whole self close to G-d.
This should be encouraging to all of us in all our endeavors. If we don't pray so well or read Hebrew fluently and we still try our best, it means that much more to Hashem. If we can't grasp all the subject matter of a class and we still try our best to attend, it's as if we brought our vnab (soul) to our Creator. This should inspire us onward to improve and expand our involvement in studying, praying and community work since it is so precious in the eyes of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
A seven-year-old boy entered the schoolyard after dismissal, eager to play basketball with the other children who gathered daily for a little fun and competitive exercise. But his eager anticipation and excitement were quickly transformed into long-faced sadness as he was passed over by the taller, stronger twelve-year-olds who were choosing sides for the game. As he sat on the sidelines, watching the agility and strength demonstrated by the older boys, his self-image shrank to tiny proportions.
A group of five-year-olds staggered into the playground, carrying a plastic backboard and hoop that stood only about five feet high from base to rim. The second-grader ran over to the kindergarteners and said, "Let's choose up a game. I am one captain; who wants to be the other?"
What made this small person happy? He spotted some people even smaller than himself! This stroke of luck boosted his ego and picked his chin up off the concrete of the schoolyard. Little children like children smaller than themselves.
This phenomenon is equally true for many adults. The problem is that the size issue is not limited merely to height. People can suffer from feelings of relative inferiority when in the presence of anyone who happens to be brighter, richer, taller, or more powerful. A dangerous solution for equalizing the disparity is to cut down the other person rather than build up the self. This often leads to slander - or lashon hara - as people who feel small may feel that by denigrating others, they can cut these "larger" individuals down to their own size.
The next time you feel the urge to belittle someone, stop and shift your focus inwards. It is better to build yourself up - however slow and difficult that process may be - than to drag another down. It's a matter of relativity. (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.
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