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Haftarah: Yehezkel 20:2-20

MAY 13-14, 2016 6 IYAR 5776
Day 21 of the Omer


"You shall be holy for holy am I, Hashem your G-d." (Vayikra 19:2)

Our perashah contains many misvot. The first Rashi on the perashah says: "Speak to the entire assembly of the children of Israel, this teaches us that this portion of the Torah was said at a gathering of the entire assembly of Israel, because the majority of the essentials of the Torah depend upon it." The Gur Aryeh explains that other portions of the Torah were also taught by Moshe Rabenu to the entire people of Israel. However, individuals had the right to be absent if they wished, but here every individual had to be present.

The sefer Tiferet Yonatan (quoted in "Hame'ir") asks what was special about the perashah of Kedoshim that Hashem commanded everyone to be present? He answers that the command to be holy might be misunderstood. One might separate himself from worldly life in order to be holy. But if everyone would be ascetics, the nature of the world would not continue. Our Sages address this point by saying .rt lrs og jru, sunk, vph - Torah is good when it is combined with the way of the world. The trick is that all people can become holy, and the nature of the world maintained.

It's possible for a person to separate himself from the world and live alone and he will not transgress the laws of lashon hara, because he has no one to talk to. He will not violate the sin of "Do not follow your eyes to see immoral things," because he has no one to look at! He is alone! This was not Hashem's intent when he commanded us to be holy, which means to be separate. Hashem commanded us to be holy while we mix with people (which is much more difficult). That's why Hashem commanded Moshe to make sure everyone comes, men, women and children. When all the people are together in one place, precisely then Hashem wants us to be holy.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"You shall be holy" (Vayikra 19:2)

When we think of the term "holiness" we tend to associate it with ascetic behavior, such as fasting and abstaining from the regular activities of this world. This perashah teaches us otherwise. The Torah commands us to be holy and then immediately exhorts us to honor our parents, to pay our bills on time, not to embarrass others and a host of laws which contribute to peace and harmony amongst our people. Our concept of holiness is living a life which is very active in the society in which we live, but living it in a way which will make our stay in this world a meaningful one. If we think about others when we do our thing, not only by not hurting them but by helping and assisting them, this leads to holiness. All of the misvot, whether between man and Hashem or man to man, lead a person to "kedushah" - holiness. That's why all the blessings prior to the misvot have the words "Asher kideshanu b'misvotav - Who has sanctified us with His misvot." Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


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

"Do not judge your fellow man until you come to be in his place." (Abot 2:5)

How often do we judge others, how quickly and easily, for something they have done. But think for a moment: When you judge someone's action, are you not seeing it out of context, stripped of the circumstances which surround it? Are you not judging it in a vacuum? And even when we ascertain some of the details, we are not in a position to judge unless we can, in some way, develop empathy and feel ourselves entirely in the position, the situation of the person we judge. Only if you can put yourself entirely in the other's place, almost to become the other person for a moment, can you begin to understand and appreciate the forces and pressures to which he was subjected.

Others interpret this literally: "Do not judge your fellow man until you reach his place of origin." Every person has a background. Everyone has a "place" where he grew up and spent his formative years. You cannot judge anyone until you have "reached his place," examined his background, studied his family, friends, and associates. Psychoanalysis has underscored the truth of this, by finding how critically important early childhood experiences can be in setting patterns of personal destiny for life.

Distance creates many optical illusions. Just as a round object may appear oblong when seen from afar, so may identities of people appear different from what they really are, if we are not close to them. Do not judge your fellow man until you get closer to the scene. (Ethics from Sinai)

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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.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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