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MAY 4-5, 2000 12 IYAR 5761

Day 27 of the Omer

Pop Quiz: What did the Kohen Gadol bring into the Kodesh Hakodashim on Kippur?

- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Rebuke, you shall rebuke your fellow man" (Vayikra 19:17)

One of the many misvot in this week's perashah is to rebuke our fellow Jew if he is doing something wrong. As important as it is, it is also one of the least properly performed. Often, we don't want to get "involved" so we just don't say anything. Other times, we will be harsh and sometimes say too much and hurt the other person's feelings, and sometimes even embarrass him in front of others. The key to this misvah is, like everything else, how would we want to be rebuked ourselves?

If we would be driving with a low tire, we would want someone to tell us. When someone is doing something wrong, it's at least as bad as driving dangerously. Yet no one wants to be belittled or humiliated and we must always remember how we would feel.

Rabbi David Feinstein says that the Torah repeats the word hocheah tochiah, rebuke you shall rebuke, to teach us that we should rebuke ourselves before we tell others what they're doing wrong. This is the same thought that was just mentioned. In order for our words to be effective, we should be sincere in our trying to improve others, and that is if we are also trying to better ourselves.

If we are careful how we rebuke others and do it with sensitivity and concern for their well being, our words will have the right effect and all of us will have improved tremendously. Shabbat Shalom.

- Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you shall observe My statutes and ordinances since it is only by keeping them that a person can live" (Vayikra 18:5)

My dear friends, in recent weeks our community has suffered the loss of numerous young people, people who have led righteous lives and have inspired others to do so as well. This has been happening in other communities and in Israel as well. The Rabbis have heard a certain question from our people which begs an answer and I believe our perashah contains the answer.

Someone once came to the Brisker Rav z"sl (as quoted in Torah LaDa'at) and said that he had devised a way to achieve longevity. He explained himself in the following way: Our Sages compare Hashem to the owner of a fig tree. The nature of figs is that they all ripen at different times. They must be plucked when they are ripe, or else they begin to spoil. The owner of the fig tree knows when to pluck his figs. Hashem takes a person from this world once the person completes his purpose for coming into the world. Therefore, he told the Rav, if the person does not attempt to perfect himself, he will remain longer in this world!

The Brisker Rav replied: If a person does not attempt to fulfill the will of Hashem and perfect himself, he is not considered "alive," so even when he is still in this world he is considered dead. When is one's existence in this world considered life? Only when he is striving to fulfill the will of his Creator. As the verse quoted above from our perashah says, "vahai bahem - and he shall live by them."

We all must strive to improve. Some reach that important goal more quickly than others. Living is improving, for that is the reason your Creator created you. Shabbat Shalom.


"From the community of the Children of Israel he shall take two he-goats for a sin-offering" (Vayikra 16:5)

According to the Gemara (Yoma 62a) the he-goat for Azazel, which was to be thrown over the cliff, and the one offered in the Bet Hamikdash to Hashem were preferably to be identical in looks, height and value. Why spend extravagantly on a he-goat that goes to waste over a cliff? The money we spend during our lifetime can be divided into two portions: One goes to spiritual matters such as sedakah, misvot and tuition.

Another goes for physical needs and personal pleasures. The return for money spent on the spiritual is everlasting, but in retrospect, we usually see that money spent on pleasures has been wasted.

Unfortunately, many people who are blessed with affluence spend freely on personal amenities yet plead poverty when it comes to spending money on spiritual matters. The two he-goats can also serve as metaphors for the above-mentioned two categories.

Hashem in His benevolence does not really mind how much of our money we spend or waste on our personal satisfactions. However, He requests and demands that an equal amount of money (and perhaps more) be spent on spiritual matters. If one has money for "Azazel" - to throw over a cliff - one should not plead poverty when it comes to spending for Hashem. (Vedibarta Bam)


"You shall not round off the corners of the hair of your head" (Vayikra 19:27)

This pasuk clearly forbids the removal of sideburns, the place where one's hair ends at the temples, and which marks the division corresponding to the cerebrum and the cerebellum respectively. This prohibition teaches us the following. The hair at the temples is a natural veil which hides the view of the back of the head. The relation of the frontal part of the skull containing the cerebrum to the back part with the cerebellum is that of the human element to the animal element within us. In order to maintain a strict degree of sanctity within ourselves, the animal factor which reflects man's sensuality with his lusts and desires, must be subordinated to the higher dignity of the intellectual and spiritual factor. By recognizing the division between these two elements, and by outwardly showing this recognition, man maintains his appearance as man. The hair down to the temples is an admonition for man to be a man, and to be constantly cognizant of this fact. (Peninim on the Torah)


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 20:2-20

In this haftarah, Hashem commands the people of Israel to remove themselves from the idol worship which the other nations were involved in. By following Hashem's decrees, and rejecting the ways of the other nations, we would become a holy nation to Hashem. Kedoshim, the second perashah of this week, also gives numerous commands to reject the ways of the other nations in order to become kedoshim, holy to Hashem.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Ketoret (incense).

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