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Parshat Behar-Bechukosai

Parshat Behar-Bechukosai

Yom Yerushalayim 2

Dear friends “ad 120 b’simcha”

Shalom Uvracha mi'Yerushalayim!

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

B"H the last 12 days of the Omer counting are packed with extra kedusha as we move up to Shavout, to once again receive the Holy Torah. We have several very special days ahead of us. First there is this Shabbos mevarchim- blessing the new month of Sivan.

Then this coming ‘28 Iyar please join together with all of Israel to joyously 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 it will be Rosh Chodesh. Then we will have 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. Let us be grateful for our portion and our inheritance.

May we all be blessed to appreciate and celebrate every moment of Shabbos, every word and letter of Torah, every day in Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land. 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.

When Rebbe Nachman came to Eretz Yisrael he said that he now understood why it says in the opening verses of our parsha "and it shall be when you will come to the land that אני נותן I Am giving to you," in the present tense. (Usually the Torah says to the Land that I have given to you, in past tense.) In Eretz Yisrael Rebbe Nachman truly experienced Hashem giving us Eretz Yisrael anew, each day. If one merits to really live in Eretz Yisrael, each day is sweeter than the day before, each day you feel more of the beauty and holiness of the Land; it's a new gift each day!

There are many things to learn in these two parshiot, Behar and B'chukotai. And i do hope that everyone will have a chance to learn them this Shabbat. I wish to call our attention to the mitzvot of Tzeddakah (Vayikra 25:35). May we all be blessed to give a lot of Tzeddakah joyously.

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!

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


The Holiness of Speech - Lashon Hakodesh

עברית - 'Ivrirt' - Hebrew is known as Lashon Hakodesh" - the Holy Tongue as it is the language of our Holy Torah. Speech is holy and we have to guard its holiness. Hashem creates the world with speech, with letters and words.

Hashem formed man from the dust of the earth and He breathed into his nostrils a soul of life and man became a living soul. (Bereishis 2:7) We have been given the gift of speech to pray, to heal, to bless, to give thanks, to restore one's soul and to share wisdom. We can do all that with holy speech.

But beware! King Solomon said in מ"ג משלי יח · כא Proverbs 18:21, מָוֶת וְחַיִּים בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן וְאֹהֲבֶיהָ יֹאכַל פִּרְיָהּ - Death and life are in the hands of the tongue; those who love her shall eat her fruit. Rashi explains: one who loves the gift of speech and trains her to speak Torah will eat her fruits. It's not only what you say that is important; it's how you say it.

Verbal Misuse and Abuse אונאה Ona'ah

וְלֹ֤א תוֹנוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־עֲמִית֔וֹ וְיָרֵ֖אתָ מֵֽאֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י ָ֖ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

25:17: Ve’lo tonu Do not wrong one another, but fear your God; for I the LORD am your God.

Let us take a look into the Talmud's teaching on this verse: The following text was downloaded from Sefaria.com, a wonderful Torah resource sight which is worthy of your support. [The words in bold are the translated words of the Talmud passage. The other words are inserted to help the flow.]

Bava Mewtzia 58b: MISHNA: Just as there is a prohibition against exploitation [ona’a] in buying and selling, so is there ona’a in statements, i.e., verbal mistreatment. The mishna proceeds to cite examples of verbal mistreatment. One may not say to a seller: For how much are you selling this item, if he does not wish to purchase it. He thereby upsets the seller when the deal fails to materialize. The mishna lists other examples: If one is a penitent, another may not say to him: Remember your earlier deeds. If one is the child of converts, another may not say to him: Remember the deeds of your ancestors, as it is stated: “And a convert shall you neither mistreat, nor shall you oppress him” (Exodus 22:20).

GEMARA: The Sages taught: It is written: “And you shall not mistreat [tonu] one man his colleague; and you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 25:17). The tanna explains: The verse is speaking with regard to verbal mistreatment. The baraita proceeds: Do you say that it is speaking of verbal mistreatment [be’ona’at devarim], or perhaps it is speaking only with regard to monetary exploitation [be’ona’at mammon]? When it says in a previous verse: “And if you sell to your colleague an item that is sold, or acquire from your colleague’s hand, you shall not exploit [tonu] his brother” (Leviticus 25:14), monetary exploitation is explicitly stated. How then do I realize the meaning of the verse: “And you shall not mistreat one man his colleague”? It is with regard to verbal mistreatment.

How so? If one is a penitent, another may not say to him: Remember your earlier deeds. If one is the child of converts, another may not say to him: Remember the deed of your ancestors. If one is a convert and he came to study Torah, one may not say to him: Does the mouth that ate unslaughtered carcasses and animals that had wounds that would have caused them to die within twelve months [tereifot], and repugnant creatures, and creeping animals, comes to study Torah that was stated from the mouth of the Almighty?

If torments are afflicting a person, if illnesses are afflicting him, or if he is burying his children, one may not speak to him in the manner that the friends of Job spoke to him: “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and your hope the integrity of your ways? Remember, I beseech you, whoever perished, being innocent?” (Job 4:6–7). Certainly you sinned, as otherwise you would not have suffered misfortune.

Likewise, if donkey drivers are asking to purchase grain from someone, and he has none, he may not say to them: Go to so-and-so, as he sells grain, if he knows about him that he never sold grain at all. He thereby causes the donkey drivers and the would-be seller anguish. Rabbi Yehuda says: One may not even cast his eyes on the merchandise for sale, creating the impression that he is interested, at a time when he does not have money to purchase it. Verbal mistreatment is not typically obvious, and it is difficult to ascertain the intent of the offender, as the matter is given to the heart of each individual, as only he knows what his intention was when he spoke. And with regard to any matter given to the heart, it is stated: “And you shall fear your God”(Leviticus 25:17), as God is privy to the intent of the heart.

Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: Greater is the transgression of verbal mistreatment than the transgression of monetary exploitation, as with regard to this, verbal mistreatment, it is stated: “And you shall fear your God.” But with regard to that, monetary exploitation, it is not stated: “And you shall fear your God.” And Rabbi Elazar said this explanation: This, verbal mistreatment, affects one’s body; but that, monetary exploitation, affects one’s money. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says: This, monetary exploitation, is given to restitution; but that, verbal mistreatment, is not given to restitution.

Thus far the words of the Talmud.

-Rebbe Baruch of Meziboz ז"ל said, do not fool others with your religiosity- i.e. don't make yourself appear pious to another, for the sake of gaining his trust.

-Rebbe Noach of Lechovithch ז"ל said, you surely can't fool the Creator, and it is difficult to fool a wise person, and you can't fool an entire community. The only one you can fool is yourself- but! how clever is it to fool a fool?

-Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Ishbitz ז"ל instructed his chassidim to be careful not to fool themselves, nor to mimic others.

May we all be blessed to be very careful with this awesome Divine gift of speech. We can do so much good with it and we can heaven fore-fend do the opposite. May our words be truthful, holy, loving and healing. Amen

Have a wonderful Shabbos b'ahavah ubivracha


Parshat Behar-Bechukosai: Teachings From Previous Years

▪ The One Word That Changed My Life

▪ Filled with Blessings

▪ Eretz HaKodesh- Shmittah, Shabbos, and Am Yisrael

▪ The Giving of the Torah- Insights from the Alter Rebbe

▪ Reb Shlomo: "on the inside every Jew is the Holy of Holies"

The One Word That Changed My Life

Cliff : “ You know Sholom, there is one word that changed my life. You know what that word is?”

Sholom waited to hear the word. “It’s אמונה - Emunah -faith in Hashem. When I learned that word it changed my whole life. Sholom had certainly heard that word many times in his life. From early childhood he was already taught to say as soon as you wake up - מודה אני לפניךמלך חי וקיים Great is our faith in You. Many many times he had heard from his parents and teachers say א ייד גלויבט אין אייבשטער

א ייד דארף שטענדיג גלויבען אין אייבשטער

a yid believes in the Creator, a yid must always believe and have faith in Hashem.

Cliff went on to explain that Emunah is more than just believing in the Creator b”H who created and is continuously creating the world. “Emunah is the belief and realization that Hashem is present here and right in front of you in all that you face. Hashem is in a dynamic relationship with you. He presents you with Torah, with the people you meet, with challenges and with obstacles. Emuna allows you to realize this and to know that it is all for your good. Everything is an opportunity for you to do “tshuvah.” Even if the challenge is painful and frustrating, instead of getting angry, stop to think how can I resolve this challenge? Which of my attributes need to be improved? How can I do it?

Often we need to remind ourselves that while we may not always have the choices to alter the situation we are in, we do have the freedom of choice to choose how we wish to respond in this situation we find ourselves in.

I can choose to just say everything is coincidental and to turn my back and disregard the opportunity to do tshuvah. I can disregard Hashem’s involvement in all. I can choose to eat myself up and put myself down for all the mistakes I have made. Or I can choose not to give up on being b’simcha. I can choose not to give up on being close to Hashem and to my brothers and sisters. I can choose to get help when I need it or ‘chas v’shalom’ act like everything is entirely in my own hands. Emunah in Hashem’s presence allows me to connect with the truth of my life which so often is ignored.

We may be and often are very stubborn; we life to think that we don’t have to submit to anyone, even to Hashem. But in this week’s parsha- Bechukotai; we learn that Hashem will defend maintaining our relationship no matter what, no matter how much He will have to inflict on us – He is far more stubborn about this than we seem to be.

Even the curses are blessings in disguise. When the alter Rebbe would read the parsha in shul on Shabbos morning his son always heard only blessings. One Shabbos the alter Rebbe was away and someone else read this parsha. When he got to reading the ‘curses’, the alter Rebbe’s son fainted. After being revived, he explained that he had never before heard such horrifying curses- from his father’s reading he heard only blessings.

It is so important that we remember the holy Talmudic sage, Nachum Ish Gam Zu who always said, no matter how difficult a situation he was faced with, "גם זו לטובה - this too is for the good." This is what every Jew believes deep inside.

Filled with Blessings

orange and gold flower closeup 2

Parshat B'chukotai, is replete with blessings- both obvious blessings and blessings that look like curses. Behind it all, it's all about our relationships, with Hashem, with our selves and with one another. It’s about bonding.

We all want to bond, we naturally feel that- alone, I am not whole. But life is what it is and we have to 'work' to be truly in tune with our deepest and holiest nature. Unfortunately sometimes we succumb to losing trust in achieving the 'true' relationships we seek. Ever so subtly, we even stop relating to ourselves with courageous sincerity and love. But even when that happens we still do hear heavenly whispers that call us home, to the home of my soul.

The deep question is ‘do I care’ – does what is happening today and what happened yesterday inspire me or convince me to make a change in my life? Or do I just go about my life as- “I’m OK” – nothing out there is my fault or responsibility, I don’t have to change; anyway,things just happen, why should I care?

Hashem cares! And He will not let us forget that. He wants us to care! Everything in life is important. There is a deep lesson in everything we encounter. Hashem tries to reach us in many ways. He wants to see us dancing with one another towards the ‘geulah shleimah’ – the complete and ultimate redemption, may it be very soon.