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APRIL 30 - MAY 1, 2004 10 IYAR 5764

Pop Quiz: What must be done with the fruit of a tree in its fourth year?


"You should not curse the deaf." (Vayikra 19:14)

The Rabbis tell us that although the exact prohibition is not to curse the one who can't hear, this is to teach us that if we are not permitted to curse someone who won't be hurt by it, how much more so should we be careful not to hurt someone with our words. However, an additional lesson from this is that the laws of Hashem are coming mainly for our benefit, not only to protect others. When a person utters a curse of someone who is deaf, although he did not harm the other person, he himself becomes affected with his own words. We become spiteful when we talk in a nasty way. When we cheat or lie or insult, the main victim is the one who uttered the words. Therefore, the Torah teaches us that even cursing a deaf person does some damage to the one who said the curse. We can infer from this that when we speak nicely to others, giving compliments, praise and the like, not only are we causing pleasure to others, but we ourselves become better people. When we do something good for others or say words which inspire and encourage, we feel good about it because we just became better through it besides the benefit that others had from our words or deed. Let's remember that the next time we have a chance to say something to others. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"And you shall love your fellow man as you love yourself" (Vayikra 19:18)

Torah commentators have always been puzzled by this paramount, lofty, but seemingly impossible misvah. Can a person feel and have the same love for others that he has for himself? Many answers are given to this question. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch gives a very practical answer. A person is obligated to recognize that his fellow man has the same needs, hopes, fears and frustrations that he has. Therefore, one must attempt to deal with him on the same level that one deals with himself. What you would want done for you, do for him.

An interesting question came before a Rabbi. A person came to shul one morning. He realized that he forgot his tefillin at home, and home was far away. The person had to catch his bus in a few minutes. The only option available was to borrow tefillin from someone who was still praying. If he would wait until after prayers he would miss the bus. That would mean a lot of expense and time to get to work. He approached someone who already prayed the Amidah, but still didn't finish Shaharit completely. He asked this person, but he said he is always careful not to take off his tefillin until the last words of Shaharit are said. So, he went to the Rabbi to ask if he must take off his tefillin for this man. The Rabbi responded that perhaps he is obligated to do hesed (kindness) to his fellowman. The man answered that perhaps his own benefit to continue wearing them comes first (ihnsue lhhj)? The Rabbi ruled that he is required to do for his friend what he would do for himself in the same situation. If he had to catch his own bus, would he take off his tefillin early, or would he leave them on and miss the bus, and pay extra money to take a taxicab to work? Whatever he would do for himself he must do for his friend.

The standards of our Torah are high, but they can be reached. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And Aharon shall come into the tent of meeting" (Vayikra 16:23)

Rashi explains that this time Aharon went into the tent of meeting to remove the spoon and the censer in which he previously burned the incense. The Ba'al Shem Tob brought a proof from here that when someone serves food to a Torah scholar, after the food is already eaten and the empty plates and used silverware need to be removed, removing them is part of the misvah of serving the Torah scholar. Just as removing the vessels was considered part of the service on Yom Kippur, so too when removing any vessels that were previously used for a misvah, their removal is included in the good deed. This has practical applications for those who are hospitable to guests. Just as serving guests is part of the misvah of hachnasat orhim, so too all the work that is necessary in cleaning up afterwards is part of the misvah, and therefore can be done with the joy of doing acts of kindness. It is usually easier to feel this joy while serving, and often the work of cleaning up is considered just plain drudgery. But since both the serving and the cleaning up are integral parts of the hesed, they both are considered aspects of the misvah and this should be one's internalized attitude. (Growth through Torah)


Question: Why is there no kaddish following the Torah reading in Minhah of Shabbat?

Answer: Actually, there is a kaddish, but it is recited after the Torah is returned to the ark. That kaddish is the kaddish which is recited upon the completion of the Sefer Torah reading. Why is it delayed in Shabbat Minhah, while in the other prayers it is recited immediately after the Torah reading? To let the people know when to begin their Amidah. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


"Love your fellow man as yourself." (Vayikra 19:18)

The word "kamocha - as yourself" seems extra. Why couldn't the pasuk simply say, "Love your fellow man?"

Midrash Tanhuma explains that there are certain circumstances when you might not find it so easy to love your fellow man. There is a principle that "every craftsman hates his rival of the same profession." A person often sees his competition as a threat to his livelihood, and will have a hard time loving that person. Therefore, the Torah stresses that you should love your fellow man even if he is "kamocha - like yourself," in the same line of work.

There is only one way that a person could accomplish this without any feelings of resentment toward his fellow man - by recognizing that everything is controlled by Hashem. If a person has a clear knowledge that Hashem decides what he will get, regardless of the competition, then he will not harbor any ill feelings toward others. He will then be in a position to feel love for, and even offer support and assistance, to others who might benefit from his experience in the field.

Question: Is there any doubt in your mind that your competition cannot adversely affect your livelihood if Hashem doesn't want him to? What would you do if someone asked you for a list of your business contacts so that he could start a similar business?


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 20:2-20

In this haftarah, Hashem commands the people of Israel to remove themselves from the idol worship which the other nations were involved in. By following Hashem's decrees, and rejecting the ways of the other nations, we would become a holy nation to Hashem. Kedoshim, this week's 2nd perashah, also gives many commands to reject the ways of the other nations in order to become kedoshim, holy to Hashem.

Answer to Pop Quiz: It must be eaten in Jerusalem.

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