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Parashat Shemini

Dedicated Leilui Nishmat Elliot D. Rahmey Eliyahu Ben Rachel by the Rahmey Family

Parashat Shemini

Learn to accept the Almighty’s will

This week’s Parasha begins with the death of Aharon’s two sons Nadav and Avihu and Aharon’s reaction “AND AHARON WAS SILENT.” (Vayikra 10:3). Rabbi Zelig Pliskin from his book, “Growth through Torah” explains that Aharon was greatly praised for his remaining silent. What was the greatness of Aharon for not complaining against the Almighty? Before something happens one might be able to take action to prevent it. But afterwards what can one do?

We find later Sages who excelled in accepting the will of Hashem like Rabbi Akiva who always used to say when something apparently negative happened, “All that the Almighty does is for the good.” Nochum, ish gam zu… used to say, “This, too, is for the good.” The sages required us to bless the Almighty for the bad just as we bless Him for the good. What then was the special praise of Aharon, the first High Priest, for his silence?

When a person says, “All that the Almighty does is for the good” about something that originally disturbed or frustrated him, it implies that at first he was bothered by what happened. But as soon as he realizes the matter bothers him he uses his intellect to overcome his negative reaction. Intellectually he knows that all that the Almighty causes to occur is ultimately for the good and this knowledge enables him to accept the situation. But an even higher level is to internalize the concept that whatever the Almighty does is positive and good. When this is a person’s automatic evaluation of every occurrence, he dose not have to keep convincing himself that a specific event is good. Such a person accepts with joy everything that occurs in his life. This was the greatness of Aharon. He remained silent because he knew clearly that everything the Almighty does is purposeful. When things consistently go well for a person he feels an inner joy. The more you learn to accept the will of the Almighty the greater joy you will experience in your life.

Acceptance of the Almighty’s will is the most crucial attitude to make part of oneself for living a happy life. The goal to strive for is to accept the Almighty’s will as your own. Whatever He wishes is what you joyously accept. Fortunate is the person who has mastered this attitude.

In Rabbi Ashear’s first “Living Emunah” book there’s a story of a woman from Great Neck who related that in the summer of 2012, her 2-year-old daughter fell into a pool. When she was pulled out, she did not have a pulse, her eyes were open, her face was blue, and her nails were purple. It appeared as though she had already passed away. While her husband performed CPR on their daughter, the mother cried out to Hashem. She made a decision at that moment to accept upon herself from then on that she would dress modestly and cover her hair. Miraculously, within a few minutes the child’s pulse was restored, at which point she was rushed to the hospital in a Hatzalah ambulance. During the time the girl spent in the hospital, Tehillim was being recited by Jews across the world. Six of the top neurologists were brought in to examine the girl, and she underwent hours upon hours of testing. When the testing was finally completed, the chief doctor, Dr. Keith Meyer, said to the parents, “Your daughter is a walking miracle.”

The doctors obtained a video of the accident taken by a surveillance camera and it showed to their sheer astonishment, that the girl had been underwater for three minutes and ten seconds. She should have been clinically dead. Yet, there was not even a trace of any brain damage, Baruch HaShem she was alive and well.

The doctor, who is Jewish, said to the parents, “I don’t know what I have believed until now, but now I clearly see that there is a G-d in the world.” He noted that he had, unfortunately, seen many children who had been underwater for less that a minute and suffered permanent brain damage. It made no medical sense that this girl suffered no damage after being underwater for that long.

We see from this story that Hashem can do anything. Nothing is impossible for Him. No matter what the situation is, the problem can always be solved. As long as there is hope and tefillah, the salvation will come!

Our Kashrut Laws

This week’s parasha also goes on to include some of the most intriguing commandments, and one of the most important and dramatic proofs that Hashem is the indisputable author of our Torah.

We learn from our kashrut laws that there are just four animals in the entire world that have one of the two signs of a kosher animal but not the other. In the thousands of years since the Torah was given to us, scientists have not found any other animals like this. This proves that our holy Torah was written by Hashem, because He’s the One who created the world, and He knows what animals He put in it!

The Lying Pig…

The Torah describes the signs of a kosher animal. In order to be kosher, the animal needs to have split hooves and chew its cud. Then the Torah lists the four animals which have only one kosher sign: “This is what you shall not eat from among those that bring up their cud, or that have split hooves: The camel, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split…. The hyrax, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split…. The hare, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split…. The pig, for its hoof is split and is completely separated, but it does not chew its cud.”

The Kli Yakar notes that the Torah goes to the trouble to list these animals’ kosher characteristics, and only then explain what they lack. This suggests that animals with one kosher characteristic are worse than those with no kosher signs at all. They are like people who make no real effort to behave well, but make a big deal of of publicizing their occasional good deeds or traits, instead of concentrating on getting rid of their deficiencies. This “dishonesty” — flaunting their one kosher sign — labels these animals non-kosher!

It’s an amazing fact that no other animal has ever been found that fits the Torah’s description of the pig — having a split hoof but not chewing its cud! Of the four animals that are not kosher due to only having one kosher characteristic, the pig is the only one that has a split hoof. Pigs often stick out their legs, as to display their cloven hooves and fool people into thinking that they are kosher, even though they do not chew their cud. They look kosher on the outside, but they aren’t kosher on the inside.

It is not enough to have the outward appearance of an admirable person; one’s inner life is what counts. Our values and the things we strive to achieve make us who we are.

Eating Kosher is Good For Body and Soul

Pigs have an unusually fast digestive system and can digest poisonous food without getting sick; that is why they eat garbage. The poisons are wrapped with fat and remain inside the body, and anyone who eats pork will consume those poisons.

Kosher animals, on the other hand, are herbivores, and eat only grass, which they digest slowly, and therefore they must avoid poisons. Lobster and shellfish, which are also not kosher, roam the seabed and they too consume the refuse that lies there. Contaminated shellfish have caused almost-instant death in countless cases.

Apart from the health reasons that benefit us physically, our Rabbis teach us that our kashrut laws primarily affect our spiritual well-being. Rashi explains that the reason various animals are forbidden to Jews is that our spiritual mission is to attach ourselves to the ultimate source of spiritual life, which comes from Hashem. These non-kosher animals, if eaten, have an effect on our neshama as well, and dull us in this world and the next. Eating forbidden foods prevents us from learning Torah properly and dulls our senses. By observing the laws of kashrut, a Jew can pull himself up the ladder of kedusha. But if he ignores them, he will contaminate himself and eventually build up a barrier blocking his spiritual growth. This is called timtum halev, the dulling or polluting of the heart!

Keeping Kosher

We learn throughout our Torah that Hashem elevated us to be a separate and special people so we can be close to Him above all the other nations of the world. So why do so many Jews today choose to lower themselves to follow the ways of other nations by eating their non-kosher foods and in their non-kosher restaurants? Our community has been blessed because of the zechut of our fathers, grandfathers, and the previous generations who forged a path for us to follow. Dining has always been a very social event, but our forefathers taught us that social dining and other types of assimilation prevent us from keeping our families together as a holy nation to Hashem.

May we all realize that Hashem truly runs the world and that nothing is impossible for Him even in our most dire situations if we truly believe that He can help us. May we also strive to keep the kashrut laws as it is written in our holy Torah, because Hashem gave us those laws in order to elevate us. We should keep kosher to the level that we should, both in our homes and while traveling on the road. Our kashrut laws are for our own benefit and will stimulate our spiritual growth, and will also benefit us in many other ways that we may not even be aware of!

Shabbat Shalom!

Discussion Points:

· Can we remember a situation that we were in where we asked Hashem to help us and He came through for us when no one else could?

· Are our kashrut standards at home, on the road, and at work up to par?

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Leiluiy Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah

Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam

Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal

Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal

Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther

Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal

Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal

Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami

Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael

Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel

Yaakov Ben Leah Saadia Ben Miriam

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

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