Parashat Emor

Dedicated in Honor of My Wife Grace Natkin

Parashat Emor

Coronavirus

Traffic is gone. Fuel is affordable. Bills are extended. Kids are at home with their families. Parents are home taking care of their children. Fast food has been replaced by home-cooked meals. Hectic schedules have been replaced by naps, rest, and relaxation. The air seems cleaner. The world is quieter. Hygiene and health are now a priority instead of money. Doctors and nurses are being praised and recognized instead of athletes and celebrities. We now have time, finally, to stop and smell the roses. And to look up at the stars, and see how amazing our world is.

Chinuch

In this week’s parasha, the Torah discusses the Divine service placed upon the kohanim and a particular responsibility to maintain higher standards of holy behavior and purity than the rest of the nation. In the first passuk, the Torah uses a double lashon. “Emor el hakohanim B’nei Aharon ve’amarta — Say to the kohanim the sons of Aharon, and say to them.” The Torah seems to be using the double lashon to emphasize the importance of chinuch, or educating our children in the proper way. Education in the home plays a pivotal role in a child’s development. It leaves an indelible imprint upon his character and attitude toward life religiously, socially, and philosophically.

As parents, we must understand chinuch before we can educate our children. 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, we as parents are the middle cup. By setting a good example, we ensure that our children will learn 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 even before they’re born. In other words, first we have to work on ourselves to become good role models.

Consider a story which happened on the bus on Rechov Sorotzkin in Eretz Yisrael. Many schoolchildren got on the bus and were standing at the front to get their tickets punched. As each child’s ticket was punched, he moved to the back of the bus. One child was standing there, and the bus driver said, “Move! Go to the back!” The child said, “No, I can’t.” the bus driver then said, “Why not?” The child explained, “Because you didn’t punch my ticket.” The driver said, “Yes, I did.” The boy said, “No, you did not.” The driver angrily repeated, “Move!” and he reluctantly went to the back of the bus. A few moments later, the bus driver looked into the mirror and he saw the young boy crying in the back of the bus. The driver stopped the bus, walked to the back and he asked the child, “What’s wrong?” The boy said, “This is forbidden. This is theft. I can’t ride the bus. It’s stealing.” And he held out his card. The bus driver punched the card again and patted the boy on the head. This little seven-year-old, unbeknownst to him, did such a beautiful act of kiddush Hashem.

We have to train our children, for example, that when they enter a building they should look and see if there is an adult behind them, and if there is, they should hold the door for them. We have to teach our children that they should not call adults by their first name. This is the element of respect which we have to ingrain in our children.

We are to understand the tremendous responsibility and the tremendous potential which the Torah puts upon na’arei Bnei Yisrael. We do not simply teach children now so that they will have good manners when they grow up. The story is teaching us that these children have the opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem right now while they are still young.

If the parent or teacher is motivated purely by the student’s benefit, they will succeed. The relationship between adult and child is a very important factor in a child accepting the lesson, both at home as well as in school. A child must feel unconditionally accepted and loved. Rabbis in yeshivot often have this type of relationship with their students, a phenomenon which is rarely found in secular schools.

Rav Simha relates the story of a history professor in a large university who had to come to the yeshivah to say Kaddish for his father. The professor confessed to Rav Simha that he’s a lonely man now that he’s in his later years. The Rabbi asked him, “How many students have you taught in your forty years of teaching?” He did a calculation and came up with about 15,000 students. The Rabbi then asked, “How many 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 yeshiva to his wedding! It would be unheard of, because Torah is taught with love, and this creates a bond between the rabbi and the student. A rabbi views his students as his children, and a close relationship is a natural consequence of this attitude.

The Kohanim

Because the kohanim are designated to perform the holy services in the Bet Hamikdash, 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, kohanim are not allowed to be in the same room as a deceased, and at a funeral they must stay outside or in a special room that is designated for the kohanim.

Rabbi Hirsch comments on the next passuk, “You shall sanctify him,” explaining that the kohen is not merely an individual who acts as a representative of the Bet Hamikdash. Rather, he is responsible to the nation, and the nation is obligated to compel him to remain true to his calling.

A kohen could not serve in the Bet Hamikdash if he was a baal mum-disabled. Is the Torah discriminating against disabled people? Of course not! The Torah would never condone such discrimination. The rule has to do with peoples’ nature, because 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-important 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 has to do with the image the kohen is meant to project, because he is to be treated and looked upon as royalty. Just as lehavdil, a President or Prime minister of a country would dress.

Making a Kiddush Hashem

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 passuk teaches us that we have an obligation to always look for ways to make a kiddush Hashem-sanctification of G-d’s name.

Making a kiddush Hashem is the greatest mitzvah that we can do. We have seen throughout our history how so many people have made a kiddush Hashem by making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. Although, B’h we don’t live in the generation of inquisitions and pogroms, where the Jews had to give up their lives for Hashem. Today we have much easier ways to make a kiddush Hashem.

We have many opportunities throughout our day to do a kind deed and make a kiddush Hashem. We could be simply driving somewhere in our car and let someone go ahead of us. If we’re walking into a building, we can hold the door for someone and let them enter before us. We can help an elderly person with a package, or lend a hand to someone who needs assistance. Making a Kiddush Hashem is not just a nice thing to do, it’s a great opportunity to show the nations of the world who the Jewish people are and to sanctify Hashem’s great name by emulating Hashem’s hesed that he does for all of us every second of every day which we feel now more than ever with the onset of this virus each and every day.

Regards from Dubai...

There’s an amazing story told in Rabbi David Ashear’s Daily Emuna book about a businessman who made a tremendous kiddush Hashem. Steve received an order about four years ago from a customer in Algeria for 10,000 pieces of Samsonite luggage. As a rule, Steve didn’t ship the goods until he received the full payment. A check arrived for $833,000. Steve deposited it and then called his customer from Algeria to arrange the shipment. The customer did not answer his phone. Steve continued trying by phone and email, but there was no response.

Finally, almost two weeks later, Steve received a phone call from the owner of a large chain store. He said that he was waiting to receive the luggage from Steve’s customer in Algeria, but unfortunately, the man had passed away suddenly. The owner asked if he could buy the luggage straight from Steve for the same price he was going to pay the man in Algeria, which was $900,000.

Steve said, “No problem.” And that’s exactly what happened. The owner of the chain store sent Steve $900,000, and Steve sent him the luggage. Now Steve had this extra $833,000 in his bank account — from the original customer in Algeria — that probably no one would ever find out about. He did not want to keep it, so he consulted with his Rabbi, who quoted the Shulhan Aruch and said, “This is a great opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem.”

Steve called the wife of his customer in Algeria, and told her that he had some money that belonged to her husband that he wanted to return. She thanked Steve for the news. Then, strangely, she then asked if they could continue their conversation on Skype, because even though Steve had called, she was being charged for the call. He gladly Skyped her. She saw him wearing a kippah and she said, “Oh, I see that you’re Jewish.”

He replied, “Yes, and I’m very happy to return this money to you.” When she heard it was $833,000, she couldn’t believe her ears, and thanked Steve profusely. Steve mailed her a check and thought that that was the end of the story. About a week and a half later, a stretch limousine pulled up in front of his office. A man came in and practically bowed down on the floor, kissing Steve’s feet. Steve asked, “What’s this all about?”

The man explained that he was from Dubai, and was the first cousin of the lady from Algeria. The man couldn’t believe that Steve had returned all that money. He said, “You’re an angel.” Then he said, “I’m a very wealthy businessman, and I have a lot of wealthy friends in Dubai. Because of your honesty, I want to open up a whole new world of business for you in Dubai.”

So over the last three to four years, Steve has been making many multi-million dollar sales to these people in Dubai that he never met before. He has earned far more than the $833,000 that he returned. Recently, he received an order from one of those customers for 11 million dollars. Steve received the check, cashed it, and called the customer to discuss the shipping arrangements. However, this time Steve asked him a question.

He said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking; I’m just curious to know. You have never seen me before and I live on the other side of the world. How can you just send me a check for $11 million trusting that I’ll send you the goods? I could just take the money and run.”

The man on the other line said, “If you didn’t take the money from a dead man, you’re not going to take the money from a live man!” Dozens of businessmen in Dubai sing the praises of the Jews because of Steve’s honesty. This is a real kiddush Hashem, and Steve has gained both in this world and the next.

The Benefits of Community

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro told a story about an elderly man who attended a Gemara class one day. He didn’t understand a word of the class, as he wasn’t familiar with the teachings of Gemara. This shiur was extremely popular, however, and seats were really hard to come by. One by one, young men approached the elderly gentleman and asked if he wouldn’t mind giving up his seat for one of the regular students. The man said no and showed his arms to them, covered in scars, and said, “Let me tell you a story.”

“Years ago in Russia, there was conflict between two factions. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe minding my own business. A group was occupying a few of the tables, when suddenly, the opposing party came to the cafe with iron clubs and started pummeling people. The angry men started to beat me and I held up my arms to protect my face. I yelled ‘I’m just sitting here! I’m not a part of them!!’ And they looked at me with angry eyes and said, ‘If you’re sitting here, then you’re part of them.’ And now, I am sitting here with these B’nei Torah learning Gemara, and so as I’m sitting with them, I am part of them so I will not give up this seat.”

We are so lucky to be part of an incredible community. Community members may be literally separated these past couple of months, but they are standing together at heart. The hessed being done in our beloved community is outstanding. Thousands of dollars are being raised for tzedakah, young people are offering to do grocery shopping for the elderly- even those they never met, food stores are donating meals to healthcare workers, and schools are feeding our families. We are all part of something amazing, so let’s not ever take it for granted rather we must appreciate it and cherish it! Amen!

May we all recognize our kohanim as our representatives when we have the Bet Hamikdash again. May we respect the memory of all the previous generations who died to make a kiddush Hashem, 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 making a kiddush Hashem and continue to do so even when the virus is over!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Points:

· What are some ways that we can make a kiddush Hashem? Think about this with your children this Shabbat and discuss it with them at the Shabbat table. Think about this with your family every day and let them be aware of their actions on a daily basis and know that those actions are magnified by the nation’s of the world, hopefully for good in order to sanctify Hashem! Amen!

Le’ilui Nishmat...

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or In Honor of someone, can email me at jrahmey@rahmeyfinancial.com.

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website ParashaPerspective.org

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or

In Honor of someone, can email me at jrahmey@rahmeyfinancial.com.

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website ParashaPerspective.org

RF | Jack E Rahmey, Brooklyn, NY 11229