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by Daneal Weiner
Omer Tov! And we're into the Tov!!! The time period of the Omer is referred
to as 'Lev Tov'- a good heart for various reasons. It also just so happens
that 'Lev' has the gematria 32, referring to the first 32 days. 'Tov' has
the gematria 17, the last 17 days, starting with the 33rd day of the Omer,
Lag b'Omer. 32 + 17 = 49! And it says in verses 23:15,16 of this weeks|
"You shall count for yourselves...fifty days." We do, in fact, only count 49 days. We do not get up Shavuos night and count the 50th day. A tremendous topic of information, beyond the scope of this paper. (I always try to add one of those in every once in a while.) Ask you're local competent Orthodox Rabbi. It used to be, "Ask your local Rabbi." Then, "Ask your local Orthodox Rabbi." Now it's "Ask your local competent Orthodox Rabbi." That's within the scope of this paper!
This week is the last week of the 'misalignment' in the parshas read here in Israel vs. out there in cyberspace. Pesach, in Israel, ended on a Friday and Shabbos were reading Parshas Shmini while in the Diaspora the 8th day fell on Shabbos pushing Shmini off till the following week. 7 days later, when the Diaspora was ready for Shmini Israel had moved on to Tazria/Metsorah! Another weekend passed and the Diaspora read Tazria/Metsorah but it was too late, Israel was on Acharai Mos/Kedoshim! When they finally caught up to Acharai Mos/Kedoshim we were on Emor. And while I share with you these thoughts on Emor, we will be learning B'har. This week is the last of the split. Next week, Jews in exile will be reading B'har/B'chukosai while Jews in exile in Israel will be reading B'chukosai! Together once again! What's the obvious question? Right! What do we need 4 weeks of hoppin' and chasin' for??? Right after Pesach, the Diaspora should have read Shmini, while Israel read Tazria. The next week, (Diaspora - Tazria/Metsorah; Israel - Metsorah) we'd be back in line!?!
The question is so obvious I hadn't thought of it at all. Rav Wolfson, however, first reviews some ideas we saw back in Parshas Shmini, when the split in the parshas occurred. I was going to either suggest reading it or maybe retyping it, but thanks to the magic of modern technology, all I have to do is say the magic words.....
Alakazini, no time to waste-
The Zohar also says that there are 'Gan' parshas in the Torah paralleling "'Gan' Eden". 'Gan' which means 'garden' has the numeric value of 53. The lunar calendar does not have 53 weeks in the year so a few of the parshas are doubled up. Had the moon not sinned, as the Gemorah Chullin tells us, then it would not have been diminished and the lunar year would have been 365 days like the solar year and every week would have had it's own parsha! (Granted, the solar year also does not have 53 weeks, (only 52) but the 53rd parshas is not read on Shabbos, rather on the holiday, Simchas Torah.)
"For those not familiar with the aforementioned Gemorah in Chullin, a verse in Breishis (1:16) says that "Hashem made 2 great luminaries; the big luminary to rule the day and the small luminary to rule the night and the stars." The problem is that "2 great" doesn't equal "the big" + "the small"!? So what happened? Rashi says that G-d originally created the sun and moon the same The moon came before the Creator and asked, "Can two kings wear the same crown? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, point point)" G-d responded, "You're absolutely correct! YOU won't wear it!"
"The Torah is not a book of science even though science was created from it. It is a book of moral instruction. To know that a sun can go nova, super-nova, implode, explode, or upload email may be good for trivial pursuit but doesn't make us better human beings. As Rabbi Berel Wein puts it, when we hear G-d's attitude to the moon was "You have a problem with him? You want to change him? YOU change!" now all we have to do is wake up in the morning and walk outside and we have our lesson for the day! And one of the tougher lessons at that!"
Something I did not mention back then, which we need to know now, is what the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel has to say about the matter. By that verse in Breishis, the Targum Yonasan translates it, "And Hashem made two great luminaries, equal in honor....and the moon spoke on the sun the language of 3 and was diminished..." The Pairush Yonasan, a commentary helping us understand the Targum Yonasan, explains, based on a Gemorah in Ehrchin, "language of 3" means the language that kills 3- Lashone Horah!!! It 'does in' the speaker, the listener, and the one being spoken about! Due to this sin the moon was diminished, it's orbit was altered and it's year became about 50 weeks long. The 53 parshas, as, mentioned, now have to be doubled up at times to fit them into the lunar year.
A couple of guys who didn't learn the lesson of the moon was Kamtsah and Bar Kamtsah. Due to their lashone horah the Temple was destroyed and we were exiled. Our exile effected the necessity of adding an extra day to certain holidays which, in turn, caused a shift in the Parshas. Chazal, our Sages, say that any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt, it as if they are the generation in which it was destroyed. I.e. we are still engaging in this sin! So much for blaming Kamtsah and Bar Kamtsah.
Elisha the Prophet (the successor to Eliyahu) and his right hand man, Gechazi appear early in the book of Kings II. Due to Gechazi's sins of greed, Elisha cursed him and his sons that they become metsorahs forever! A metsorah is one with tsora'as which is widely and erroneously translated as leprosy. The cause of this divinely afflicted disease is generally lashone horah. Gechazi and his sons were guilty of robbery. Both lashone horah and robbery reflect an obvious lack of sensitivity for other people. A metsorah, in the desert, was sent out of the encampment. Once settled in the land of Israel, the metsorah was not allowed to enter a walled city. This mini exile gave the metsorah an opportunity to re-evaluate his sense of community and sensitivity for others. The Chidushai HaRim brings a Chazal which says that Gechazi chased after Elisha to beg forgiveness but would only arrive just after the man of G-d was gone. Repeatedly he would arrive at a town and ask if Elisha was there, only to be told he had just left.
This is similar to the message behind the Parshas. If we did 'adjust' the reading right after Pesach, than all it would have been was a glitch on the calendar which required an adjustment. But intentionally delayed it becomes a message. Like Gechazi who ran after Elisha, the Diaspora chases Israel. Whenever it feels it's caught up, it finds out that Israel is one parsha ahead. As King Solomon wrote in Shir Hashirim, an allegorically written song depicting Hashem and Bnei Yisrael as a husband and his estranged, exiled wife (receptively), "I [the wife] opened for my Beloved but, my Beloved had turned His back and was gone...I sought His closeness but could not find it. I beseeched Him but He would not answer." (5th chapter)
The Chidushai HaRim tells a story. He was on a wagon heading out of town when a man came running after the wagon for the rare opportunity to speak with the righteous sage. The Rabbi told the wagon driver to retain his pace. In his pursuit, the man threw down his staff, he was carrying, in order to gain speed. When the Chidushai HaRim saw this he told the driver to slow down. If this man was willing to sacrifice some of his materialism then he merited a connection to holiness.
Chazal in Sanhedrin tell us that from Elisha cursing them "forever", we learn Gechazi and his sons lost their share in the World to Come. Yet, in Kings II it tells us of the Aramean's laying siege to Samaria and Gechazi and sons deciding to give themselves over to Aram's mercy. Arriving at the Aramean camp they were shocked to find it abandoned!! True to form, Gechazi and sons loot the first couple tents and hide the valuables. But then, even truer to their souls form, Gechazi says, "We are not acting properly...Come let us report to the king's palace!" And they went and told the king of Samaria the enemy has fled. Sacrificing the remaining spoils, which they could have hid before they told, they are already on their way to tshuvah.
After a number of weeks of chasing after the Torah of Israel, there is finally a reconnection. And all this occurs during these days of the sfirah. The days were we attempt to elevate ourselves to a level worthy of the ultimate connection with Hashem, the revelation at Mt. Sinai. We started during the holiday of Matsoh, symbolic of throwing off all materialism. But that experience was a gift from Hashem. During these days we attempt to bring ourselves to that level. The Omer began with a barely offering, food of animals, symbolic of a materialistic existence and 50 days later we bring a bread offering. food of man. These weeks we have the custom to read and learn the Ethics of the Fathers. Every aspect is geared towards and reflects our ultimate achievement. And as we said in the introduction, by the 33rd day, the 'lev' is over. The 'heart' of the transformation has past. We're into the 'tov'!! All Bnei Yisrael the world over reconnects with the Torah of Israel! And it happens next week on Shabbos Parshas B'chukosai.
Parshas B'chukosai seems to be the perfect parsha for this reunion. It opens reminding us that if we walk in the ways of Hashem, all our needs will be taken care of. It then warns us of the alternative. Rav Wolfson says that the real message is towards the end of the parsha. 27:24, "In the Yovel- Jubilee year the field shall return to the one...whose ancestral heritage of the land it was." The idea of the Yovel, the ultimate return to our roots, and the return of our roots to us, it is that symbolic of that spark in every Jew that will bring them all back to the Torah of Israel.
We're not at Bechukosai yet, though. We're in the 'tov', the home stretch, but we're still chasing the connection to Israel. Parshas Emor has in it all the biblical holidays and then some. After finishing it's discussion of Sukkos it suddenly talks about the Menorah and the Show-bread. The Menorah, the symbol of spirituality, reflects the defeat of the Hellinists attempt to spiritually destroy the Jews. That's Emor's mention of Chanukah. The Show-bread, the symbol of the physicality of Bnei Yisrael, reminds us of the reversal of Haman's plans to physically destroy us! Emor's mention of Purim. Maybe we can add another holiday to the list in Emor? What's the next subject discussed? Oh- the blasphemer....moving right along...
Emor is also read on the Diaspora's 2nd day Yom Tov. Not all of it, of course, only the portion largely regarding the very holidays on which it's read. Interestingly, we don't start to read this portion from the verse, "These are the appointed times...", which sound like a pretty good place to start when wanting to read about the appointed times. Rather we start 5 verses earlier, (22:27) "When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born it shall remain under its mother 7 days and from the 8th day it is acceptable for a fire offering." What is the relevance of this awkward starting point?
Rav Wolfson again points to the Targum Yonasan on this verse for a remarkable insight. He translates it adding that when the order of the korbanos- sacrifices, is mentioned, those animals brought year after year, since our sins caused that we do not have where to bring them, the ox was chosen in remembrance of Avraham, the sheep for Yitschak and the goat for Yaakov. The Targum Yonasan takes this verse from a section speaking about the sanctity of the Sanctuary and the offerings and says its talking about the exile! Specifically when there are no sacrifices!! And we are riding on the merits of our forefathers!!! Hashem is "Notser chesed l'alaphim"- A Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations. The Targum tells us that's what the Torah is saying right here in Emor!
In merit of Avraham Aveinu who saw 3 arab idolaters and he washed the dust from their feet and he gave them each the finest meal from the choicest of his herd. All this for the opportunity to teach them about the living G-d. Rashi says there that dust was worshipped by idolaters and so Avraham cleaned their feet and then served them like kings. May it be G-d's will that in our lowly generation, a generation in the FEETsteps of the Mashiach, a generation covered in the dust of 1900 years of assimilation, He simply wash the dust from us and serve us from the great ox and leviathan, the best of His creations being saved for the righteous after the coming of the Mashiach.
In merit of Yitschak who asked that he be bound to the alter, like a sheep, so any flinching wouldn't invalidate his father's slaughtering. And who then stretched out his neck in sanctification of G-d's name. May it be G-d's will to accept our binding ourselves to higher standards in a world striving for mediocrity and triviality. To accept or wrapping ourselves in Torah and mitsvos, in a world that has shunned responsibility for self gratification. And to accept our stretching out our hands and ourselves in charity and in chesed and in learning, with the money, resources and time we scarcely have.
In merit of Yaakov who cooked a goat for his father and merited the blessings while donning the skins of Eisav, may it be G-d's will to be satisfied with the little we have to offer Him and bless us, even though we also don the skins of Eisav. We might not be at Bechukosai yet, but Emor shows us there is tremendous hope!
This weeks haftorah is from the prophet Yechezkel. Like Emor, the haftorah opens with laws of the Kohanim- priests, to be applicable after the building of the third Temple. The problem is that some of these laws seem to contradict laws mentioned in the Torah. The ArtScroller Rebbe footnotes that Rashi brings Midrashic commentaries on these verses implying that they can't be taken in their literal sense due to these contradictions. This chapter is therefore meant to be a 'vehicle for the exegetical interpretations that underlie the verses.' The whole Messianic era is a mystery to us so it is no wonder that these related verses are also shrouded in mystery. The Gemorah Menachos says in the name of R. Yochanan that we will have to wait for the prophet Eliyahu to explain these verses for us.
The Ari HaKadosh, on the other hand, points to the first verse of the haftorah, "The Priest Levite sons of Tsaddok" Well, were they Priests or Levites? Granted, all priests are from the tribe of Levy but it has been pretty well established to refer to a Jew as one or the other, not both. The Ari HaKadosh says BOTH! When Hashem told us back in Shmos (19:6), "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests" He meant it! There will be a time when every Jew will minister for the nations of the world! This, by the way, is what Korach foresaw. He wanted to speed things up so he complained against Moshe and Aharon and their 'exclusive' appointments of the priesthood. We'll see more on that soon. This idea from the Ari HaKodesh answers up one of the contradictions! The very last verse of Emor's Haftorah says that the Kohanim can't eat a naturally killed animal. Pointing to them and saying THEY can't is the same as saying that everyone else CAN!! Heaven forbid any Jew eat a non-kosher animal! But now that we know the all Bnei Yisrael will be priests, the "everyone else" who "can" are the nations of the world. They can eat all the road kill they want!
Like we said, even though the majority of Bnei Yisrael hasn't caught up to the Torah of Israel yet, what a comforting and promising Parsha. What a wonderful haftorah! What a great boost to really make these final 'tov' days of the Omer "tov m'ode"- very good!!!
And that's not all the great news for Klal Yisroel!! It may be two months old for some but we just heard about it here and it is definitely worth repeating and publicizing!
A number of the greater Lubavitch Rabbis formed a Central Committee of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis in the United States and Canada and have issued the following statement:
Recently a number of individuals have made pronouncements regarding the position of Chabad-Lubavitch on the issue of Moshiach. The following statement is issued by the governing board of the central rabbinic organization of Chabad-Lubavitch.
· The deification of any human being is contrary to the core and foundation of the Jewish faith.
· The various Talmudic, Midrashic and other sources which seem to ascribe superhuman spiritual attributes to certain righteous people, were never meant to be deification and great care must be taken when quoting them.
· Belief in the coming of the Moshiach and awaiting his imminent arrival is a basic tenet of the Jewish faith. It is clear, however, that the conjecture as to the possible identity of Moshiach is not part of the basic tenet of Judaism.
· The preoccupation with identifying the Rebbe zt"l as Moshiach is clearly contrary to the Rebbe's wishes.
Signed, R. Moshe Bogomilsky, R. Yisrael Friedman and R. Lipa Schapiro of Brooklyn; R. Zalman Posner of Nashville; R. Dovid Shochet of Toranto; R. Zelig Sharfstein of Cincinnati; R. Moshe Kasinetz of Livingston; R. Yehuda Leib Schapiro and R. Avrohom Korf of Miami; R. Ezra Shochet of Los Angeles; R. Hershel Shusterman of Chicago; R. Yosef Shusterman of Beverly Hills; R. Shalom Lipskar of Bal Harbor; R. Elimelech Silberberg of Detroit.
The long awaited fight has begun to win back the Lubavitcher name, making it once again entirely synonymous with the Torah of Israel. In the merits of the tremendous kedushah of the Ba'al HaTanya, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, there is no doubt these Rabbi's will succeed. May Hashem help them to quickly remove the poisonous influences which put at risk so many lives, and guide any and all affected souls to a true Torah path and service of Hashem. May they soon be reconnected with the nation of Israel! In their merit may all wayward groups find their way back into the framework of Torah Judaism.
Have a hopeful, inspiring, reconnecting, spiritually tov m'ode Shabbot Shalom.