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Parsha Emor & Lag Bomer

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ztz’l

 


Emor – Sefirat Ha’omer – Limkoma – Falling Into Place

 

 

After we count the omer, we say Harachamn Hu Yachzir Lanu Avodas Beis Hamikdash Limkoma Bimheira Beyameinu

 

What exactly are we asking for, and why now? When I'm putting on tefillin, I don't say to G-d ‘bring me back the Beis Hamikdash’. But when I count my days, I say, ‘please G-d, take me back to the Holy Temple’. Why so? Because the knowing the secret of time and space means you are ready for the Beis Hamikdash.

 

What does this mean, to know the secret of time and space?

 

Here let me ask you something very strong. What was the depths of the sin of the golden calf? We simply didn't know that we're not in Egypt anymore. In Egypt you make a golden calf. After Mt. Sinai, how are you able to make a golden calf? Of course it was forbidden, but that’s not what was so bad about the whole scene. Imagine you meet your best friend after a long time of not seeing them, and you start talking lashon hara about another person. Forget about the fact that it is forbidden. You just met your best friend, is this the time to talk evil about another person? Not now; you want to talk lashon hara? Talk it another time.

 

So why is it that we so easily are able to forget where we are? Because we are not plugged into the concept of time. The concept of time and the concept of space mamesh mirror each other. We receive light every second, but our mistakes and failures are because I don’t think there is anything new being created in me, in my space right now. I end up treating life as if I’m just in the middle. I’m always trying to hold onto something which once existed. So now, between Pesach and Shavuos we are learning the awesomeness of every day and of every minute by making every minute and every day count. This is why I ask G-d to take us back to the Holy Temple when I count sefira, because when I learn the holiness of receiving light every second – my own place in this world begins to become clear to me.

 

If we would treat each other as if we were just created right now, we wouldn't hate each other, because I only hate you for something you did yesterday. We will begin to love each other when Mashiach is coming, because at that time I will look at every person as if they were just created right now. So you did something wrong yesterday, but who cares? Right now you're a new person.

 

There are seven weeks of the Omer. During each week I am going through all aspects of different emotions. When my emotions are completely in harmony, I know exactly what to do and when to do it. In essence, we are becoming the masters of time and space during the omer.

 

Now listen to this. At one time I taught this sweet boy how to put on tefillin but I forgot two things. I didn’t tell him that you put on tefillin during the day, and I also thought he knew that you don’t put on tefillin in the bathroom. One night I called him up at nine o’clock at night, I wanted to know how he is doing. He says “Rabbi, you’ll never guess what I’m doing. My parents are watching television all night, so I’m putting on tefillin in the bathroom because it’s quiet in here.” It’s cute and beautiful, but nebech – it’s not the right time and its not the right place.

 

So this is what I’m asking of G-d once I count my days. Please G-d, bring back the service of the temple to the right place, limkoma. You see what it is, while we are fixing our hearts and our souls, everything is falling into the right place.

 

G-d should bless us, we should be masters of time, masters of counting, master of knowing where we are going and where we are coming from. And even more than that, we should know what He wants of us and what we want of Him.  We should be privileged to know what’s going on inside of ourselves right this minute


Emor, Iyar, Sefirat Ha'omer - Dreaming About The Now


Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ztz’l

May, 1987 - Yerushalayim


Everyone dreams about things before they happen, but once they happen, do they still dream about it? When Mashiach is coming we say 'Hayinu Kecholmim'. I’m dreaming about Mashiach my whole life, but once Mashiach comes we will still dream about Mashiach coming. What does this mean? How do you dream for something once you already have it?


Let's look at the difference between the two sisters, our two holy mothers, Rachel and Leah. Leah doesn’t have much to do with dreams, Ya’akov never dreamt of Leah. He never thought he would marry her. He dreamt about Rachel before he met her, and gevalt did he dream about her after. Rachel was always just a dream, even while she was married she was dreaming of having babies. She is the mother of Yosef Hatzadik who is always dealing with dreams.


The most heartbreaking thing in the world is when you dream about freedom, and eventually become free, you stop dreaming about it. The saddest thing in the world is not when I don’t get I want, it’s when I get what my heart wanted for so long, but the longing for it stops doing what it used to do me. This is the reason that G-d didn’t take me to Mount Sinai right away. And here we come to the depths of the counting of the Omer. In Parshat Emor, the Torah tells us to count. When I count Sefira I say ‘Ribbono shel Olam, today is already so and so many days that I have left Egypt, and I’m still dreaming about freedom’.


The name of this month is Iyar. Iyar is Rashei Teivos (acronym) Avraham Yitzchak Ya’akov Rachel

Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov were always praying to G-d ‘let there be one nation, let there be one free people who can serve you’. But do you know what they were missing, do you know what they needed most? They needed to continue dreaming about it once they become free, because if I’m not dreaming about it, the whole thing is over. This is where Rachel comes in.


Now we understand why we read about Ruth on Shavuos. When I’m born a Jew, I’m so to speak missing out on something utmost important. Who teaches me how to dream about being a Jew? For that I need a convert. I need somebody who was dreaming about becoming a Jew. And before I read about receiving the Torah, I learn about another convert, Yisro. Yisro always dreamed that the emptiness inside of him would one day be fulfilled and healed. He went everywhere, tasted from everything, but never gave up on.


Who is curable and who is incurable? Once you stop dreaming about being healed, you are incurable. As long as a person still dreams about being cured there is hope. Now during the month of Iyar, I keep my dreams alive every night of the month through sefira. Therefor Iyar also stands for Ani Hashem Rof’eacha, which comes through the energy of Avraham Yitzchak Ya’akov and Rachel.


So here I want to go one step further.


The Arizal says that what I’m working on in Chodesh Iyar is ‘hirhur’, and the Gemara says that dreams have to do with ‘hirhura deyoma’. What does the Gemara mean? Reb Tzadok HaKohen says something unbelievable. That which I think about with my head is called ‘machshava’, and that which I think about with my heart is called hirhur, Hirhur halev. The thoughts of my head change every split second, the thoughts of my heart could be one lasting thought all day. So the Gemara says that your hirhur is what you dream about at night. Hirhur is connected to dreams.


When you dream, you don’t want anyone to wake you up, you are in the middle. You don’t talk while you are dreaming. When a chosson says covers his kalla’s face he is basically saying ‘I’m begging you and me, let’s dream about this forever.' Don’t ever interrupt your dreams, don’t let anyone interrupt your dreams. When children are born they keep their eyes closed because they so to speak don’t want to wake up. They are here, but still connected to the world of dreams. The same happens with the Shabbos candles. When our holy sisters bentch licht on Friday night, they kindle the light and then cover their eyes. The question is, why are you closing your eyes not that you kindle the light, why not look at the light? Simple, I want to dream about it. Yes, it’s in front of me, but I want to keep on dreaming about it. This is also the meaning of bliss, oneg. Oneg Shabbos means that I’m dreaming of Shabbos while it’s Shabbos. Simcha doesn’t mean I’m dreaming about it, I’m just so glad I have it. Oneg Shabbos, the bliss of Shabbos is when I’m dreaming about something I already have.


We went into exile because we stopped dreaming dream about the Beis HaMikdash while we had the Beis Hamikdash. There was no other way of making us dream again. You know what’s so special about today? Why doesn’t G-d give us back Yerushalayim in it's entirety, right now? Obviously we haven’t dreamt enough about it yet. We have it, we are slowly coming home, but are still given the privilege to dream about it.


The difference between my connection to the Holy Land and the China Man to China is like this. China belongs to the China Man, that’s it. Eretz Yisrael belongs to us only as much as we are dreaming about it.





Parshat Emor

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