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Parashat Emor

L'ilui Nishmat Yehudit bat Rachel

Parashat Emor

In this week’s Perashah, in the first Pasuk, the Torah uses a double Lashon: Emor el hakohanim b’nei Aharon v’amarta... "Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them..." The Torah seems to be using the double Lashon for purposes of emphasis for Aharon to educate his children pertaining to the laws of the Kohanim. The emphasis being on the importance of Hinuch; that is, educating our children in the proper way. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein commented that the Torah cautions parents, teachers and adults in general to regulate their own behavior, because the example they set for their children will have a very strong effect and a major influence on them for the rest of their lives. Education in the home plays a pivotal role in the development of a child. It leaves an indelible imprint upon their character and a strong attitude towards life -- religiously, socially and philosophically. As parents, we must understand that we're performing on stage for our children which will give them the proper Hinuch before we can educate them. The Vilna Gaon said that the way to educate is to fill the middle cup and let it spill over into the other cups. In other words, as parents, we are the middle cup and by setting a good example, we ensure that our children will learn from us the proper way to act. It has been taught by many Gedolim that the time to begin educating our children is not when they are four or five years old, but before they're even born. If the motivation of parents or teachers is purely for the student’s benefit, they will succeed. The relationship is a very important factor in a child accepting the lesson at home as well as in school. A child must feel unconditionally accepted and loved. Rabbanim in Yeshivot often have this type of relationship with their students, a phenomenon which is rarely found in secular schools. Rav Simhah relates the story of a professor of history in a large secular university for over fifty years who had to come to the Yeshivah to say Kaddish for his father. The professor confessed to Rav Simhah that he's a lonely man now that he's in his latter years. The Rabbi asked him, "How many students have you taught in all your years teaching?" He did a calculation and came up with about 30,000 students. The Rabbi then asked, "How many of them have invited you to their wedding?" The professor replied, somewhat disheartened, "Not a single one." Imagine a student in a Yeshivah not inviting his Rabbi or Rosh Yeshivah to his wedding? It would be unheard of, because Torah is taught with love and this creates a bond between the Rabbi and the Talmid. A Rabbi views his students as his children and this close relationship is a natural consequence of this attitude. The Torah continues to discuss all the laws concerning what the Kohanim can and cannot do, since they were chosen by Hashem to undertake all the services that need to be performed in the Bet Hamikdash for the benefit of B'nei Yisrael. Because the Kohanim are designated to perform the holy services, they have special rules they must follow so they don't contaminate themselves. For example, at a funeral or in a hospital, they cannot be near a dead person unless it is their immediate family. That's why even today, the Kohanim are not allowed to be in the same room as the body of the deceased, and at a funeral they must stay outside or in a special room that is designated for the them. Kohanim cannot marry a divorced woman or a woman who is considered a harlot and has been desecrated. Rabbi Hirsch comments on the next Pasuk, "You shall sanctify him,” explaining that the Kohen is not merely an individual who acts as a representative of the Bet Hamikdash; he is responsible to the nation, and the nation is obligated to compel him to remain true to his calling. The Kohen in the time of the Bet Hamikdash cannot be a person with a disability (a baal mum). Is the Torah discriminating against disabled people? Of course not. The Torah would never condone such discrimination. The rule has to do with the nature of people, which is such that they won't look at the Kohen properly if they are distracted by a characteristic that marks him as different. The Kohen is a 'Hashuv' person and has to be looked at that way by the people, as an elevated servant of Hashem. The true nature of people is that they would not look at the Kohen properly if he had a missing limb or some other feature that stood out. This is similar to a judge who wears a black robe in order to instill fear and respect in the people, so they will honor him. The underlying reason for all these laws also has to do with the image the Kohen is meant to project, because he is to be considered as royalty and should be treated and looked upon as such. To visualize this, 'l’havdil', think of the Queen of England, who is never seen on public occasions in casual clothes. In the next Perek (22:23) we read, "You shall not desecrate My holy name, rather I should be sanctified among B'nei Yisrael; I am Hashem who sanctifies you." This Pasuk teaches us that we have an obligation to always look for ways to make a Kidush Hashem, sanctify G-d's name. To make a Kidush Hashem is the greatest mitzvah that we can do and we have seen throughout our history how so many people have made a Kidush Hashem by making the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Although, B”H we don't live in the generation of inquisitions and progroms where the Jews had to give up their lives for Hashem, today we have a much easier and more pleasurable way to make a Kidush Hashem. What I mean by this is that we have many opportunities throughout our day to do a kind deed and thereby carry out a Kidush Hashem. We could be simply driving somewhere and we can let someone go ahead of us. If we're walking into a building, we can hold the door for someone as we let them enter before us. We can help an elderly person with a package or lend a hand to someone who needs assistance. There's a story that became famous recently about an orthodox Jewish man who bought a used desk from an elderly lady. When he brought the desk home and was going through it to set it up in his house, he found close to $90,000 in cash hidden inside the desk. He immediately called the lady to let her know that he found the money and brought it back to her. This act became even greater when somehow the man was called on to a TV show (which went viral) to share his story with the public. Wearing his kippah and closely shaven beard, looking like an observant Jew, He told everyone his reason for returning the cash to the lady, which was that it was "the right thing to do". He said he bought a desk and when he found the money inside it, he knew that she didn't intend for him to take this money that she thought she had lost and which was most of her life savings. The audience was cheering for this man and the noble and pious act that he did, which was a great Kidush Hashem and sanctified G-d's great name, which in turn sanctified the Jewish people! Again as the Pasuk says, "I shall be sanctified among B'nei Yisrael; I am Hashem who Sanctifies you!" The end of the Perashah goes on to discuss all the holidays throughout the year. Perek 23 begins with: “Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to B'nei Yisrael and say to them: Hashem's appointed festivals that you are to designate as holy convictions -- these are my appointed festivals." The Pesukim continue to list in detail the holiday of Pesah, the counting of the Omer, Shavuout, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. The next Pesukim seem out of place, as they move on to the commandment to Aharon to light the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash. This is another example that demonstrates that the Torah is divine, because this discussion of the lighting of the Menorah can easily be read as a reference to the lighting of the Hanukah Menorah, which occurs exactly 60 days after the end of the holidays of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, but which commemorates events that took place in history about 1000 years later. May we all recognize our Kohanim as our representatives when we have the Bet Hamikdash again. May we also respect the memory of all the previous generations who died in a Kidush Hashem before us and whose pious acts have given us the opportunity to continue the Jewish nation until this very day. May we also find our own ways to sanctify Hashem's name by looking to make a Kiddush Hashem always! Amen! Shabbat Shalom! Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of Rabbi Amram Sananes Leiluiy Nishmat.... Eliyahu Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Garaz Sarah Bat Chanah Malka Bat Garaz Shulamit Bat Helaina Yaakov Ben Rachel Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher Rav Haim Ben Rivka Meir Ben Latifa Yitzchak Ben Adele Esther Bat Sarah Chanah Bat Esther Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana Moshe Ben Garaz Rafael ben Miriam Moshe Ben Mazal