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Haftarah: Yehezkel 44:15-31

MAY 12-13, 2017 17 IYAR 5777

Lag Ba'Omer will be celebrated on Sunday, May 14.


"They shall be holy to their G-d and they shall not desecrate the Name of their G-d." (Vayikra 21:6)

The Torah states that Kohanim shall be holy to G-d and they shall not desecrate His Name. This teaches us that a Kohen who falls short of holiness is guilty of desecrating Hashem's Name. Why is it considered desecrating Hashem's Name if one does not become holy? Surely there is a big gap between one who falls short of holiness and one who desecrates Hashem's Name?

Rabbi Eli Scheller explains with a parable. When a manager of a baseball team is choosing players, he only chooses those that he believes have tremendous potential. The players he picks, he believes, will perform incredibly well and they will assist the team in winning the championship. If one of the players begins goofing off, it will reflect poorly on the team and on the manager. The manager needs each player to be the best he can be in his position, not merely mediocre.

So too, when Hashem - the Ultimate Manager - chooses His players in this world, He only chooses those that can become great and accomplish big things. Hashem assigned every individual a position and a mission which, if he fails to complete, reflects negatively on the whole team. A person who is merely average isn't fulfilling his mission in life and he thereby desecrates Hashem's Name.

A Kohen, and perhaps all of us, make up Hashem's team.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Say to the Kohanim and say to them..." (Vayikra 21:1)

The Torah repeats the word "??????????" as if emphasizing this commandment that the Kohanim should not become defiled by a dead body. The Rabbis learn from the extra word that we must train our children to keep the misvot just like we do. The question is asked, "Why is the obligation to teach our children to keep the commandants said by the laws of Kohanim and their prohibition to become impure?"

One possible answer is that when a Kohen tells his son not to come in contact with impurity, the son may question his father, "How come the other people don't have this restriction? Even very observant people are allowed to touch a dead body. How come I may not?" The Kohen father must tell his son, "You are different, my son. You are a Kohen. We have greater responsibilities; therefore, more is expected of us." This is the way we should train our children. We have to build them up and show them how great they can be, and that more is expected of them than of the rest of the world. The Jewish people have a mission in this world and when a child realizes that he has a part in that mission, then he will rise to the occasion and become that special person. Compared to the rest of the world, we are a kingdom of Kohanim and therefore have to act and live on a different level! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Pirke Abot

It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.

"Be very very humble" (Pirke Abot 4:4)

Pirke Abot is filled from beginning to end with moral lessons and advice. Yet, more emphasis ("very very") is placed on this statement than on any other. It is almost as if there is some kind of danger in being conceited or in seeking honor. Why is humility given such great importance, more than any other trait?

It is known that in this world there is no reward for misvot. Rather, the rewards are all in the next world. The reason for this is that all the benefits a person can possibly get in this world would not be enough payment for even one misvah. This is because misvot are spiritual in nature. They cannot be rewarded with material things, because the payment would not correspond to the deed. However, if one receives honor for a misvah, he is getting some compensation for his deed, since honor is spiritual in nature.

This is what this Mishnah is warning us about. If someone seeks honor and receives it, he is using up his merits for which he was to be rewarded in the World to Come. One should be exceedingly humble and run away from honor, because he has no idea how much of his future reward he may be using up for a fleeting moment of praise and honor. (Hafess Hayim al HaTorah)

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A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

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