Parsha Emor - Breathe , Appreciate

When looking what to post on Parsha Emor, I could not think of more approtiate, sensitive and spitritual thoughts as written by Reb Sholom Brodt z"l. These words take on an even deeper meaning when viewed through Corona glasses.

We feature 2 teachings from Reb Shlomo. The First one on Lag B Omer.

The 2nd one is

Incredibly Powerful Teaching on Emor

which features Reb Shlomo speaking to R' Zalman regarding the Torah at a Dharma Confrence

Dear friends “ad 120 b’simcha” Shalom Uvracha mi'Yerushalayim!

We hope that all of you are very well B”H.

May we all be blessed to appreciate and celebrate every moment of Shabbos, every word and letter of Torah. We should be blessed to appreciate every Jewish soul and to truly believe that every one of us has the potential to hasten Moshiach's arrival.

Baruch Hashem we have a holy Torah – let us all learn together to discover and focus on what unites us, rather than on what divides us.

When we will learn together b’ahavat Yisrael, with true love, the words of the Torah, all the words of the Torah will shine brilliantly into our hearts. Let’s start gain right now, b’simcha!

B”H we have some very special holy days coming up. “Modeh ani” – I am grateful to you Hashem, these are the first two words of the day. Everything that follows is dependent on this expression of gratitude, therefore it is so important that we express these words with sincerity and joy. And as we have learned in the past, the Alter Rebbe explains that מודה אני also means, ‘I admit’. I admit that Hashem is the only true reality and that our existence is totally dependent on His ongoing creation and provision of life energy. I admit that that his is present with us at this very moment and that I can turn to Him right now, if only I would be totally open to admitting Him into my heart. This how we are to start our relationship with life each day.

הודו לה' כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו – Give thanks and praise to Hashem, for His love and kindness are eternal. We have so much to be grateful for. Soon it will be Shabbos and then we will celebrate Lag B’omer . Then we will b’ezrat Hashem have another Shabbos, and a few days later on ‘yom revi’i’ 28 Iyar we will rejoice and celebrate “Yom Yerushalayim” – the 53th year since the miraculous liberation and reunification of Yerushalayim, the Holy City, and all the amazing lifesaving miracles of the Six-day War (1967). And then a few days later we will celebrate another Shabbos followed by Shavuot, the holiday of the Giving of the Torah. May these days be filled with much gratitude and great unifying simcha-joy, for all of Israel.

Rabbi Levi and Rebbe Meir taught that with each inhale of breath we should be aware of Hashem revitalizing our life soul energy, and practice expressing gratitude with each exhale. [note that נשמה – neshamah, and נשימה – breath, are the same word]

רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי חֲנִינָא אָמַר, עַל כָּל נְשִׁימָה וּנְשִׁימָה שֶׁאָדָם נוֹשֵׁם צָרִיךְ לְקַלֵּס לַבּוֹרֵא, מַה טַּעַם (תהלים קנ, ו): כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ, כָּל הַנְּשִׁימָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ [בראשית רבה 14:9]. R. Levi said in R. Jianina's name: It repeatedly ascends. For every breath which a man breathes, he must give praise to the Holy One, blessed be He. What is the reason? Let every neshamah {soul-breath} praise the Lord (Ps. cl, 6), which means, for every breath [let one praise Him] Bereishit Rabbah 14:9

אָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר עַל כָּל נְשִׁימָה וּנְשִׁימָה שֶׁאָדָם מַעֲלֶה חַיָּב לְקַלֵּס אֶת יוֹצְרוֹ, מִנַּיִן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קנ, ו): כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ [דברים רבה 2:37]. Said Rabbi Meir: Man must praise his Creator for every breath.” Devarim Rabbah 2:37

All our prayers, all our learning, all our daily work first begin with the first conscious breath and words of gratitude of the day – מודה אני. It is a good practice to keep on expressing gratitude throughout the day. In fact the Talmud teaches us that man must make a hundred blessings each day. Every word of Torah is life. We need to learn to relate with the Torah as the Tree of Life. If we relate with it only through the Tree of Knowledge, we will keep on having real problems and fall into sadness and G-d forbid despair.

The holy Meor Eynayim always sought to learn holy Torah life lessons from each and every mitzvah, even from those that are unique to Kohanim. Actually, we are all Kohanim- servants of Hashem, as it says, “And you shall be unto Me a Kingdom of Kohanim and a holy Nation.” (Shemot 19) The entire Torah was given to all of Israel, to every Jewish soul, as a living Torah of life, not just as intellectual or spiritual information. Chassidut explains that it is only in the realm of action that there are differences between Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, man, woman and child. But as for the ‘garments’ of thought and speech, every mitzvah, every holy word and letter of Torah, pertains to each one of us. So, I need to and want to learn and understand what each mitzvah is teaching me about how to serve Hashem, and how to ‘live’ my life.

But first we should understand that the very name of the parsha אמור –‘Emor’ teaches us a very important lesson in communication. In a sicha delivered in 1982, the Lubavitcher Rebbe underlined the connection between the name of the parsha – Emor, and Shabbos. 'Emor' means to say, to speak in a soft manner, whereas, 'dabeyr', also means to speak, but more directly and in a stronger manner. The opening message of parshat Emor is that we should and must communicate with each other, especially concerning spiritual matters. But this must be done in a soft and loving way. Shabbos is all about 'oneg' – delight and pleasure. If we wish to communicate effectively in spiritual matters, we must talk softly and with respect. To speak harshly is generally ineffective, and to do so on Shabbos, is totally contradictory to what Shabbos is all about. And that is why we bless one another with Shabbat Shalom- a peaceful and loving Shabbos.

“The Shechina does not dwell in a defective place.”

The first half of parshat Emor relates particularly to the sanctity requirements of the Kohanim – the servants of Hashem, and to the animals that may be used as ‘korbanot’- sacrifices in the Divine services of the temple. Both the Kohanim and the animals, must be perfect- without physical defects. What does this teach us about our serving Hashem today? The holy Zohar (Vayechi 216b) teaches that “the Shechina does not dwell in a defective place.” [[For a complete discussion on this, see Rav Stenisaltz’s sefer “Talks on the Parsha” p. 252 ff. I wish to share a small part of his beautiful lesson; and I hope to do so accurately בס"ד.]]]]

I am the Kohen and I am the ‘korban’

In his introduction to sefer Vayikra, the Ramban z”l explains that when bringing a ‘korban’- an animal sacrifice, one should consider that it is really I who should be offered on the Altar- it is only by the grace of Hashem, that we may offer animals as personal substitutes.

Unfortunately, we do not have the Beit Hamikdash yet, may it be rebuilt quickly in our days; and though we cannot practically fulfill most of the priestly and sacrificial mitzvot today, Hashem hasn’t changed, nor has the Torah changed, both are eternally true and continue to provide us with relevant life lessons.

Every one of us should see himself/herself both as a Kohen- the servant offering the sacrifice on the Altar, and as the ‘korban’, the sacrifice being brought to the Altar. Both have to be perfect- without defect. All aspects of the services have to be beautiful, complete and whole.

Say we could understand this concept, but I am not whole. Just as there are aspects of me that wish to serve Hashem, there are parts of me that wish to disregard Him and His Torah. Sometimes I am being good and sometimes I am not, sometimes I even act rebelliously. Can I really be complete and whole in my service?

Consider this. A physically perfect bull can cause a lot more harm and destruction, than a castrated bull, which, as known to farmers, is a much less dangerous and more manageable. Would it not make sense to do whatever is necessary to prevent my bull from causing harm or damage to another- isn’t a harmless bull holier? Would it not mak a better ‘korban’?

Hashem knows and I know that I constantly have to struggle with my ‘yetzer hara’- evil inclination. Each one of us possesses a personal and very clever ‘yetzer hara’. Don’t think that your personal struggles are more difficult than those of more talented, perfected, smarter or holier successful people. The Talmud teaches כל הגדול מחברו יצרו גדול ממנו – “whoever is greater than his fellow, his ‘yetzer hara’ is greater than him” (Sukkah 52b). Some have a big ‘yetzer hara’ in matters between ‘man and G-d’, some in matters between ‘man and man’, and some have a big ‘yetzer hara’ in both. For some, their personal struggles can be pretty vicious.

So, one might think ‘I wish there was some pill or procedure that would rid me of evil thoughts, or at least prevent me from doing any evil, be it lying, stealing, cheating, stealing, murder or sexual abuse. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’

No! It would not! That is not what Hashem wants! He wants the service of a physically, emotionally and psychologically whole person- a complete and healthy servant. He wants us to offer our ‘selves’ as complete and healthy servants – as complete and healthy animals.

Yes, we are potentially quite dangerous, and we have the history to prove that. But Hashem willingly took the risk in creating man, because only such people, only such animals, can serve Hashem completely with all their hearts, souls, wealth and talents. We are not allowed to neuter animals, nor are we allowed to neuter ourselves neither physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Maiming or crushing the ‘yetzer hara’ destroys desire and creativity, leaving you impotent- unwilling and unable to do all the good you came to this world to do. The evil inclination is a mighty bull. Hashem knows exactly how strong it is, He designed it and He gives me the strength not only to overcome it, but also to use its energies in serving Him. אלא שאין הקב"ה בא בטרוניא עם בריותיו - (Avodah Zara 3a). Hashem does not make impossible demands on His creations. Hence, we are always responsible for our decisions and behaviors. And only when I honestly take responsibility can I grow and come closer

Chassidus teaches that we must constantly work at subjugating the evil inclination, and ultimately transform it- bring it to the point where it willingly will contribute its powerful energies to your Divine soul, helping it do more and more good.

How? Learning how to do this is tremendously important. I can have all the best intentions and will to do my best, but if I don’t learn how to work with my ‘yetzer hara’, I won’t get very far in implementing them. This is what deep Chassidut is all about- learning how to unify the Holy One b”H with the holy Shechina, learning how to be in true union with Hashem and with one another as complete whole servants working with complete whole animals.

Love, Awe and Compassion

At Pessach we were liberated from slavery but only sufficiently to leave Egypt and ‘rush’ after Hashem. Our souls and bodies were drawn to follow after Hashem. We were so to speak pulled out from there by the great Divine revelation that manifested on that awesome night.

However we still remained quite attached to the mundane realities of life; as soon as we encountered obstacle and danger in the desert we wanted to return to Egypt.

Chassidut describes our journey from Mitzrayim to Mt. Sinai, from the start of our liberation from slavery to the receiving of the Torah, as רצוא RATZO and שוב SHOV. In the awesome vision of the Supernal chariot the prophet Yechezkel relates that he saw theחיות CHAYOT angels RATZO- rushing forward and SHOV- returning. He saw myriads of angels serving Hashem in this manner. Metaphorically we understand RATZO as inspiration and SHOV as application. When Hashem revealed His presence on the night of our Exodus we were intensely inspired to leave our slavery and we rushed towards him.

But RATZO- inspiration alone is not enough. The soul naturally desires to be liberated from its exile in the body and return to her Source. is her deepest desire As beautiful as it is to be liberated from our spiritual enslavement in the mundane world, it is Hashem’s Will that we live here in this world and make this world a dwelling place for the Shechina. And so, our inspiration must lead to realistic application.

Pesach is the time of RATZO- the great rush and inspiration. Shavuot is the time of SHOV- application. In giving us his holy Torah, Hashem gave Himself to us in ways that allow us to bring Him into our world and making it a dwelling place for him. Through the study of Torah and doing all the Mitzvot we joyfully bond with him in this world, and transform our cities and homes, even our bodies are meant to be sanctuaries for Hashem.

Two levels of liberation: Liberation, elevation, transformation.

In other words, at the Exodus we were not fully liberated yet. Our souls were still in exile in our physical animalistic drives for gratification and 'self' preservation. Our worldly perspective continued to dominate our thinking and decision making. The inspiration was great but the application was yet to be fulfilled.

The ability to be a free servant of Hashem and live a truly liberated life, the opportunity for the soul to not only lead the body, but also to transform it, was given to us at Sinai- when we received and "got" the Torah.

Everyone is familiar with the struggle to keep mind and heart connected. If you are a sports fan or like to go to concerts there is no problem for body mind and heart to be where they want to be. However for the divine soul, mind, heart and body to all be together where the soul wishes to be- that is the struggle. To completely receive the Torah means that our hearts and bodies need to be engaged no less than our minds.

To receive and truly acquire the Torah, to receive all that He wants to give us, and to illuminate our surroundings with His eternal light, our vessels must be clean and clear. The seven weeks of the Omer counting, between Pesach and Shavuot is a period of cleansing and 'fixing' our emotional attributes, strengths and weaknesses in order to fully receive Hashem's revealed Will with our entire beings. The key word in this process is ביטול – nullification of the egotistical self-centered “I”. I need to do all this as a servant of Hashem, as His child who is deeply connected with Him and wants to be with Him and wants Him to be with me, at all times.

How do we do all this? How do we bridge the gap between mind and heart? In addition to studying Torah and doing mitzvot, prayer and meditation play a key role. Daavening is bonding with Hashem. Whether we aware of it or not, the deepest desire of our souls is to be in complete union with Hashem, to love Him and be in awe of Him. Teffila – real sincere prayer involves arousing the primary attributes of all relationships, love fear and compassion.

The Alter Rebbe explains that in our daily prayers there are verses of love- to arouse our love for Hashem; there are verses of fear to inspire us to be in fear and awe of Hashem and there are verses of compassion to draw Hashem's compassion upon our souls.

Love of Hashem is our spiritual inheritance from [our father] Avraham Avinu. Fear and awe of Hashem is our spiritual inheritance from [our father] Yitzchak Avinu. Compassion is our spiritual inheritance from [our father] Yaakov Avinu.

In davening we are acutely aware of the quality of our relationship with Hashem. Do I love Him? Do I fear Him? Am I attentive to the desires of my essence soul? How much do I care about my soul’s desires and well-being? And what about my relationships with others? Our souls care deeply about all these matters.

Unfortunately, much of the time I barely remember to recognize and listen to my Neshamah. In this ‘world of lies’, most of our thoughts and energies are driven by the animal-soul's demands for self-gratification.

And so we daven three times a day to bond with Hashem. But as everyone knows it is so hard to maintain our kavanah -focus on the words we are saying and why we are daavening. We are constantly being distracted by all kinds of "strange thoughts" which are quite effective in disturbing and confusing our attempts to be close with Hashem. And sometimes our faith in the value of daavening wears down and we ‘chas v’shalom’ consider giving up. But we must NOT DESPAIR! You really need to hear Rebbe Nachman shouting "DO NOT DESPAIR!"

Know that when you pray you are not alone. There is a holy teaching that when we say at the opening of the Amiddah "Baruch Ata Hashem Elokaynu v'elokay avoteinu, G-D of Avraham, G-D of Yitzhak, and G-D of Yaackov,” our fathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov are ready to stand and pray with us. They come to give us strength to arouse our love – Avraham Avinu, our fear and awe - Yitzhak Avinu, and our compassion – Yaackov Avinu.

The Siddur- is an arrangement of deep meditations to be in complete union with Hashem. To achieve this, we engage in prayer- the service of the heart. Entering into prayer is also described as engaging in battle. Maintaining focus on living sincerely with Hashem and with each other does not come easily. Humility, wisdom, practice, joy, vitality, strategy, honesty and commitment are as important in daavening and opening our hearts to Hashem, as they are in any battle.

Meditations are very powerful when we do them properly, deeply and frequently. However, what is one to do when the heart is "a heart of stone" – when after sincerely meditating on Hashem’s love we still do not succeed to arouse our love for Him chas v'shalom. What can I do when I don’t manage to arouse my fear and awe of Hashem to really care and be mindful of my relationship with Hashem, when I don’t protect it and grow in it honestly.

The heart of stone, as impervious as it seems to be can actually be opened with compassion – our inheritance from Yaakov Avinu. Chassidut explains "l’Yaakov asher padah et Avraham- to Yaakov who redeemed Avraham" (Isaiah 29:22) to mean that COMPASSION REDEEMS LOVE. If you are having trouble arousing your love, pray for Hashem to have compassion on your soul. At the same time, I must consider “Do I have compassion on my soul?”

רחמנות Rachmanut is the Hebrew word for compassion, is related to רחם- "rechem" which means a womb. The relationship between mother and fetus defines and teaches us the meaning of compassion. The mother accepts the fetus into her body, which then marshals all its energies to nourish and develop the fetus into a healthy baby. Our ongoing growth, both physical and spiritual requires both Hashem’s compassion and our compassion.

To be compassionate with my soul is to learn and acquire all the wisdom needed and to actually provide it with nourishment. To have compassion with our souls is to allow them to manifest their love of Hashem, and all other souls. So we pray “Hashem, please have compassion on my soul and open my heart of stone.” And Hashem prays that we too should have compassion on our souls and on our relationships with Him.

Our souls are crying to love one and other. They are crying for unity and peace, for truth and love. With sincere compassion for our souls we request and receive Hashem’s compassion.

Even if sometimes all I can do is say "Hashem I hardly have any compassion for my soul, but You Hashem, Your compassion is infinite. Please help me arouse my compassion. Please help me be in touch with You, with my Neshamah and with the souls of all Your children, all my brothers and sisters. I want to care for my soul. I want to care for my children. I want to care for You and Your children. Please put wisdom into my heart to love and understand every word and letter of your Torah. To know and love all my brothers and sisters. To seek and yearn for the ultimate redemption. To welcome You back in Your holy Beit Hamikdash with great joy. Just wanting to want is good enough when that is the most you can do. Amen

And what is one to do if they have prayed for compassion but do not immediately feel any opening of the heart? 'Jump start' the process by 'doing something compassionate'. Our wiring runs two ways. The heart inspires action and action inspires the heart. There are so many beautiful things we can do. When you 'act' compassionately, you elicit compassion and love from all around you- and from Hashem, and you'll be surprised at how deeply you will be touched and aroused.

We wish you to be blessed with a healthy, joyous reJEWvinating good summer, b'ezrat Hashem.

May Hashem spend a speedy healing and recovery, both physically and spiritually to all who are in need.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a very healing Iyar b'ahavah ubivracha Sholom

Lag B'omer

these teaching were downloaded from

What Is Lag BaOmer?

Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count—this year, May 22—is a festive day on the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated with outings (on which the children traditionally play with bows and arrows), bonfires, and other joyous events. Many visit the resting place (in Meron, northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the anniversary of whose passing is on this day.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the common era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the “Kabbalah,” and is the author of the basic work of Kabbalah, the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.”

The chassidic masters explain that the final day of a righteous person’s earthly life marks the point at which “all his deeds, teachings and work” achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives. So each Lag BaOmer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.

Lag BaOmer also commemorates another joyous event. The Talmud relates that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva, “because they did not act respectfully towards each other.” These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag BaOmer the deaths ceased. Thus, Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of the imperative to love and respect one’s fellow (ahavat yisrael).

Living in the Future - Lag BaOmer By Yanki Tauber

“Living in the future.” For those of us who collect oxymorons, this one is an especially delightful specimen. It’s not as obvious as your run-of-the-mill “deafening silence” oxy, but one that unravels only under careful sophistry. If you haven’t already figured it out, allow me the pleasure: If one indeed lives in the future, it’s not the future anymore, is it? And if the person of whom we’re speaking only thinks he’s living in the future, than he’s not really living there, is he?

This week, however, Jews all over the world will celebrate the life of a man who quite literally lived in the future. Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count, is the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second generation after the Temple’s destruction, about 1,900 years ago. Rabbi Shimon is the author of the Zohar (the most basic book of Kabbalah), Mechilta (a central midrashic work), and of hundreds of laws and teachings cited in the Talmud. He played a fundamental role in the history of the Torah’s transmission through the centuries, in both its “revealed” (i.e., talmudical-halachic) face as well as its esoteric (mystical-kabbalistic) soul.

If there is one thing that characterizes Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s life, it is that he inhabited a reality that, for most of us, still lies in the future: the reality of Moshiach, the messianic world of redemption, harmony and perfection. It is said of Rabbi Shimon that, for him, the Holy Temple was never destroyed, the people of Israel had never entered the state of galut (physical exile and spiritual alienation), and the world had attained the divine perfection of the Age of Moshiach.

The Midrash tells a story:

Once there was a disciple of Rabbi Shimon’s who left the Holy Land and returned a wealthy man. The other disciples saw this and were envious and also wanted to leave. Rabbi Shimon knew of this. He took them to a valley facing Meron and said: “Valley! Valley! Become filled with gold coins!” The valley started flowing with gold coins before them.

Said Rabbi Shimon to his disciples: “If it is gold that you desire, here is gold; take it for yourselves. But know that whoever takes now is taking his portion of the World to Come. For the reward of Torah is only in the World to Come.” (Midrash Rabbah, Shemot 52:3)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains the deeper significance of this story:

The Torah is G‑d’s blueprint for creation, and the channel via which all of creation’s vitality and sustenance flows from Above. So everything in our world, from the loftiest spiritual blessings to the mundane wealth that comes in the form of gold coins, is facilitated by the Torah. But our world is an alma d’shikra, a place of concealment and deception. Things reach us but their source remains hidden; we see the result but have, at best, only a distorted perception of its cause. In our reality, it is possible that while Torah is the source of all the gold in the universe, one whose life is devoted to Torah may apparently suffer poverty, while one who abandons Torah may apparently acquire riches.

That is our world. The future world of Moshiach, however, is a world of truth. A world in which the hand is visible within the glove, the cause is evident in the effect, and the source of everything is revealed without distortion. In the World to Come, it is plainly visible that even physical gold flows from the headwaters of Torah.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai inhabited that future reality. His disciples, however, still lived in the present world.

Rabbi Shimon’s disciples were disturbed when the reality they experienced was at odds with the truth as they knew it. It troubled them that a colleague who forsook the study of Torah became wealthy, while they, who pursued it day and night, suffered poverty—despite the fact that they knew that Torah is the conduit of all worldly blessings.

So Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai granted them a glimpse of the World to Come. He showed them the world that he inhabited every moment of his life. And if they could not inhabit and access it themselves, at least they would behold it.

Each year on Lag BaOmer, we are drawn into the orbit of Rabbi Shimon’s futuristic world.

Here is another story that the Rebbe would often repeat to illustrate this point. The great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (“The Holy Ari,” 1534–1572) had a disciple by the name of Rabbi Avraham HaLevi. This disciple had a custom to recite the Nachem prayer every day. Nachem is a prayer that speaks of the destruction of the Holy Temple and the resultant galut, and beseeches G‑d to comfort His grieving nation, rebuild the Temple and restore His revealed presence amongst us. Nachem is recited once a year—as part of the afternoon prayers on the Ninth of Av, the day on which the Temple was destroyed. Rabbi Abraham, however, so keenly felt the pain of the destruction and the exile that he recited this once-a-year prayer every day.

Since Rabbi Abraham recited Nachem every day of the year, he also recited it on Lag BaOmer. This got him into trouble. One day, Rabbi Isaac summoned his disciple and said to him: “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai appeared to me and instructed me: ‘Say to this man: Why do you recite Nachem on the day of my joy?’”

The chassidic masters explain that on the day of a person’s passing, “all his deeds, teachings and accomplishments” attain their ultimate state of fulfillment and realization. Thus—explains the Rebbe—Rabbi Abraham was rebuked for mourning the galut on Lag BaOmer. On this, the culminating day of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s life, the day on which Rabbi Shimon’s influence predominates, it is within our power to share Rabbi Shimon’s reality of a redeemed and perfected world.

And what of my delightful little oxymoron?

Yet the Talmud insists that “in the place that a person’s mind resides, that is where he is.” So “living in the future” need not be a contradiction in terms after all—if that’s where you are.

Parshat Emor: Teachings From Previous Years

▪ TO BE KADOSH – HOLY ▪ To Sanctify Hashem ▪ בס"ד.... קודש קדוש קדושה The Holiness Of The Kohanim


To Sanctify Hashem

To Sanctify Hashem 'לא. וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם מִצְו‍ֹתַי וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם אֲנִי ה

31 And ye shall keep My commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.

לב. וְלא תְחַלְּלוּ אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אֲנִי ה'מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם

32 And ye shall not profane My holy name; but I shall be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD who hallow you,

לג. הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לִהְיוֹת לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים: אֲנִי ה

33 that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.

Sfas Emes [5652-1892]: On he verse “but I shall be hallowed among the children of Israel” (22:32) the Rabbis taught that from here we learn that a Jew has to be prepared to give his life for the holiness of His Name b”H (= baruch Hu = blessed is He). For in giving his [physical] life, the Kedusha that is embedded within the Jew is revealed. That is why the Torah states “I am Hashem who sanctifies you.” Hashem has put a holy soul into every Jew, but our physicality covers over and conceals the power of the soul. But when one gives one’s life ‘al Kiddush Hashem’ – for the sanctification of Hashem, the physical barrier is removed and the holiness of the soul is revealed.

And so it is always. According to the extent that one nullifies his attachment to the material and physical, and is subservient to the Torah, to such extent is his personal holiness revealed. On the holy Shabbos the revelation of this holiness is received as a gift, as it says “so that it will be known that I Hashem sanctify you.” (Shmot 31:13.)

By virtue of giving oneself over completely to Hashem [to His Will as your will] the soul energy within man is revealed, as it says “I will be sanctified.” And so it is. Hakadosh baruch Hu – the holy One blessed be He, imbued every one of Bnai Yisrael with [a portion of] holiness, and they have to broaden this point. Then by virtue of their arousal they merit to receive a new flow of holiness.

This is what the counting of the Omer days is about. On Pessach Hashem’s holiness came down to us in a general manner. Afterwards, during the days of ‘sefirat haOmer’ it says, “and you shall count unto yourselves,” – meaning for yourselves – meaning acquire this holiness by virtue of your personal efforts. Then on Shavuot these two aspects join together.

בס"ד.... קודש קדוש קדושה The Holiness Of The Kohanim

This week's parsha, which spans many topics and mitzvot, begins with mitzvot to the 'kohanim, the sons of Aharon':


Say [softly, quietly] to the kohanim the sons of Aharon, and you shall say to them, let him not become tamei [by being] with the dead among his people'

Male kohanim are commanded to maintain themselves in a state of 'taharah' in order to be able to perform their duties as kohanim. A Kohen who is 'tamei' may not participate in offering of the 'korbanot' upon the altar.

Hashem commands the male 'kohanim' not to become 'tamei la-meit' from the 'meit'. With the exception of going to the funerals of the 'seven close relatives' [wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son and daughter -until she marries], a 'Kohen' may not go to funerals. The "meit mitzvah" is the other exception. Even the "Kohen Gadol", the High Priest is obligated to take care of the "meit mitzvah".

Chessed Shel Emmet: True Kindness

Attending to the burial needs of the dead and attending funerals is a great mitzvah. In fact this mitzvah is the only act of loving kindness that the Rabbis consider and refer to as "Chessed shel Emmet" 'a true [act of] kindness'. This mitzvah is known as "halvayat ha'meit", 'escorting the niftar [the departed one]'. This mitzvah calls for taking care of all the needs of the deceased for an appropriate and respectful burial, including going to the funeral to honor the 'niftar'. Though this is a great mitzvah, we nevertheless become 'tamei' from the 'meit'- the dead one, simply by being in close proximity [about six feet] to the 'meit', or by being in the same building under the same roof, or by standing close to a grave. Today, many funeral homes have an unattached side room for 'kohanim' so that they can attend without being under the same roof.

The Meit-Mitzvah

If one comes across a "meit mitzvah", a dead person with no else around to bury him, 'chas v'shalom'' [may H' take care of us and bless us with peace], one has to drop everything they are doing and take care of the burial. Even if you were on your way to doing a mitzvah, even a mitzvah which comes only once a year such as the Korban Pessach- the Paschal sacrifice [yes there is a second chance on Pessach Sheini], burying the 'meit mitzvah' nevertheless takes priority, even though as a result you will not be able to bring your 'Korban' at the appointed time.

Priestly Garments 2

Kesheim Shemevarchim Al Hatov... Recognizing Hashem's Goodness I learned the following teaching from Reb Shlomo ztz"l. It is based on the first teaching in the Mei Hashiloach [from the Ishbitzer Rebbe] on this week's parsha. But first it must be clear to everyone that, as we have already learned, the mitzvot of 'tummah' and 'taharah' essentially belong to the category of "chukkim", mitzvot which we would not have arrived at just by our own understanding. In other words we don't really understand why Hashem gave us these "chukkim" mitzvot. Nevertheless Chassidut - the collected teachings of the Chassidic masters, does give us some insight into these mitzvot, so that we can understand, a little bit, how to apply them to our own lives, in our service of Hashem.

Every mitzvah in the Torah applies to every single Jewish person. Even the mitzvot that are specific to 'kohanim', apply to every one of us. This is so because every single mitzvah has three dimensions: 'machshavah' - thought and understanding, 'deebur' - speech, and 'ma-a-seh' action.

The mitzvot that are specific to the 'kohanim' are specific to them only in 'ma-a-seh' action. In 'machshavah' and 'deebur', thought and speech, all mitzvot apply to all of us. We 'fulfill' our part in these mitzvot through 'machshavah and deebur' thought and speech.

We are all 'kohanim' as it says in the covenant of the 'giving of the Torah': "and you shall be unto Me a kingdom of 'kohanim' and a holy nation." Exodus 19. Thus in a sense Hashem is commanding [softly whispering to] each one of us as well, not to become 'tamei' from the 'meit' the dead. What does it mean to be a 'Kohen'? What does it mean to be 'tamei'? A 'Kohen' believes that everything that transpires is all through Divine Providence, "Hashgacha pratit". A 'Kohen' believes that everything that Hashem is doing is only good, for Hashem is Good, and the nature of Good is to do good.

However, when confronted by illness and death, 'chas v'shalom' we may get angry and we may have complaints about what Hashem is putting us through. When we have complaints towards Hashem we are 'tamei'. We cannot enter the Mishkan, we cannot bring a 'Korban', and we cannot be close to Hashem, while we are 'tamei'.

In addition to bringing the offerings to the altar, the 'Kohen' [most of all] was there to help us come close to Hashem again. As the Levites were playing music, the 'Kohen' would talk with the Yiddeleh who was bringing the 'Korban', to help him feel close to Hashem again, and to help him realize how holy he really is.

As a people, the B'nai Yisrael, the Children of Israel are the 'kohanim' to the world. It is our responsibility to help everyone come close to Hashem, to help everyone realize how holy they are and can be, to help everyone to live in peace and harmony. This is not an easy task, but we can't quit, for we are in a covenant with Hashem. We are B'nai Brit, the Children of the Covenant.

To accomplish our roles as 'kohanim', we ourselves need to be close to Hashem. To be close to Hashem you also need to have "ahavat Hashem" love of Hashem. It is very hard to be confronted by death frequently, without getting angry. So Hashem is whispering into our ears "please try not be angry with Me". There is a part of reality that is too painful to live with all the time. Even the 'Kohen', who believes that everything is from Hashem, and that everything that He is doing is 'good', is only human. Even the 'Kohen' becomes 'tamei' sometimes. Yet we have to learn how not to be angry, how not to have complaints. We must not lose our love for Hashem.

Reb Shlomo ztz"l once said that after the Holocaust all of us became 'tamei'. That is why so many of the Rabbis were not able to help the young generation connect with Hashem, and that is why at that time some holy teachers came from the east to help. Unfortunately many unholy ones came along with them. Reb Shlomo ztz"l once put it this way, the holy gurus took Jewish students under their care and taught them. But then there would come a time when they would tell them that it was time for them to go back and be a Jew. The unholy ones on the other hand would take Jewish followers and never let them go back to living as Jews.

Shabbat Shalom, B'ahava,