Acharei Mos - Kedoshim
Mr. Victor Groffman
A man of strength and determination, whose positive attitude and good
cheer were an inspiration to his family.
"A man shall fear his mother and his father" (Vayikra 19:3). The root word yira (fear) describes the reverence that a person must have for his parents. The Sefer Charedim (9:26) explains that this is a very strong word, used to describe the awe that a person must have for the King of Kings. An absolute ruler can send a person to his death. Therefore, one is in awe of him and fears for his life. This is the same reverence that one should have for his parents.
Imagine a son who has become a very successful person. He is the head of a well-known organization. He is wearing the finest clothing and presiding at a very important meeting. Into this meeting walk his father and mother. Without hesitation, they approach their son and begin to tear his clothes. Can you imagine the humiliation? Next they proceed to hit him on the head and spit in his face. Their son is in utter disgrace, the laughingstock of the entire organization. Yet he cannot show the slightest sign of anger or take revenge in any way. Rather he must be quiet out of fear of Hashem and the awe of His Greatness (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240:3). For the Torah equates the fear of parents to the fear of the Holy One.
Kinderlach . . .
We should never suffer humiliation and embarrassment from our parents. That is the ultimate test of fearing them. We face many smaller tests every day. We fulfill the mitzvah of fearing them by not sitting or standing in their regular place, not contradicting or verifying their words, and not calling them by name. In our days, we are familiar with fear. Danger is all around us. Use that emotion constructively, by directing it toward those whom we must really fear. Our parents and Hashem.
"Benny, do you want to join us?"
"Where are you going, Chaim?"
"We're on our way to the schoolyard to play basketball."
"That sounds great, guys. I can use some exercise and fresh air."
"Here comes Joey. Let's ask him to join us."
Benny forces a smile to his lips.
"Hi Benny. Where are you guys going?"
"To the schoolyard to play basketball."
"Can I join you?"
The boys continue on their way to the schoolyard. Chaim takes Benny aside to speak privately.
"Benny, do you mind if I ask you something personal?"
"No, go right ahead Chaim."
"You did not seem too happy to see Joey."
"Chaim, you don't know what he did to me. I can never forgive him."
"Did you speak to him about it?"
"No. I just never want to be his friend again. I can continue to smile and treat him nicely. But I hate him in my heart."
"Oy va voy. That's terrible. The Torah speaks about this very thing in this week's parsha."
"Really? What does it say?"
"You shall not hate your brother in your heart" (Vayikra 19:17). The Sefer HaChinuch zt"l (Mitzvah #238) explains that hatred guarded secretly in the heart is worse than hatred that you show openly."
"Why is that?"
"Hatred in the heart is the source of tremendous evil between people. Fighting between friends and between brothers is the result. Even worse, hatred is the root cause of acts of betrayal."
"That is truly horrible."
"Correct Benny. The Sefer HaChinuch describes betrayal as the lowest and most revolting of human qualities. Anyone with common sense is abhorred by it."
"I get the message. I feel terrible about it. What can I do to help myself?"
"It's really very simple, Benny. Do you know that the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Cohen, thinks very highly of Joey?"
"Joey is a very important person. Doesn't that change your whole attitude?"
"Well, just think about this. Hashem loves every Jew. He is the Almighty King of Kings. If He loves Joey, then how can we, who are like a speck of dust in comparison to Hashem, hate him?"
"It doesn't make sense for me to continue hating him."
"Exactly. That is what most hatred is . . . senseless. Benny, it's time to come to your senses."
"No more hatred."
Kinderlach . . .
Never hate anyone in your heart. If someone wrongs you, try to understand why he did it. Perhaps he was under pressure. Maybe he was not feeling well. If you still don't like him, try speaking to him about it. Tell him how you feel. If that does not help, just remember one thing. Hashem loves him. How can you hate someone whom Hashem loves?
"My laws - you shall carry out, and My statutes - you shall guard, to go with them . . ." (Vayikra 18:4). The verse states that we must go with Hashem's laws and statutes. Where are we going? Where did we begin? Where is our destination? The Keli Yakar zt"l has a beautiful explanation which defines our job in this world. In this world, a person is called a traveler. He goes from one spiritual level to another. This world is a dynamic situation, with opportunities for growth and spiritual development. Contrast this to the next world. The person's status is described as "sitting", as the Gemora (Berachos 17a) states, "The righteous sit with crowns on their heads". There is no room for growth over there. Only reward for the work done here.
Kinderlach . . .
Let's all hit the road. We have places to go and things to do. We're on the way up. Higher and higher in madrayga (spiritual level). Now is the time to work hard and accomplish. Get moving and keep moving in the right direction. Up and up.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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