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MARCH 28-30, 2003 25 ADAR II 5763

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Thursday, April 3.

Pop Quiz: What was Aharon's reaction to the death of his sons, Nadab and Abihu?


"But this is what you should not is unclean to you" (Vayikra 11:4)

The Torah identifies the animals whose flesh may be eaten as well as the animals that we may not eat. When describing the meat that is unkosher, the term "tameh," unclean, is used. Earlier in the Torah, in Parashat Noah, Hashem tells Noah to bring the animals into the Ark in order that they should survive the flood. There, the Torah describes that Noah should take seven of each type of animal that is clean, (kosher) or "tahor." Also, Noah is told to take two of each type of animal that is not clean (unkosher), or "enah tehorah." The Talmud (Pesahim 3a) comments that the Torah used an extra word, "enah tehorah" - not clean - instead of saying "teme'ah" - unclean - to teach us a moral lesson. One should never utter a gross expression, for the Torah, which stresses brevity, added several letters to the Hebrew text of that verse to avoid using the unseemly expression, unclean. Rashi adds that even though the Torah uses the shorter expression of "tameh" in other places, the Torah changed its usual expression to teach us this lesson.

The Hazon Ish was talking with someone who said "That is a lie." The Rabbi corrected the man to say, "That is untrue." The difference seems almost negligible, but to a person with a pure soul, it is the better way to speak. All the more so, to tell a person, "You are a liar!" is very wrong. That expression says that the person has a blemish of one who regularly lies. Rav Pam z"l tells that he once heard a mother tell her three year old son, "You are a bad boy." The child broke out in tears and the mother couldn't placate her son for many hours. She should have said, "Stop doing that. What you are doing is bad." This would not have bothered him as much. Hurtful words to children do great, sometimes irreparable, harm. When a husband tells his wife, or vice versa, a harsh, degrading word, that person is endangering his peaceful home, sometimes irreparably!

There are always a number of ways of saying things. Let us learn the lesson from the Torah, and choose the better way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Approach the Altar" (Vayikra 9:7)

When they were about to inaugurate the Mishkan, Moshe told his brother, Aharon, to step forward to the Altar and bring the proper sacrifices. Rashi tells us that Aharon was embarrassed because of his involvement with the sin of the golden calf and the Midrash says that indeed Aharon saw a vision of the calf on the Altar. Therefore, Moshe told Aharon, "Don't worry, because you were chosen for this."

We see from here the proper attitude one should have if they did something wrong. People tend to think, "It's over. I made a mistake, let's forget about it and go on!" But a mistake can sometimes have devastating results. We must rectify the problem and ask forgiveness from Hashem and our fellow man, if we caused him some hurt. Aharon kept on "seeing" the golden calf before him because he realized his error, and because of that attitude, Hashem said not only is he forgiven, but he is chosen to be the Kohen Gadol. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Moshe questioned and queried" (Vayikra 10:16)

In many Humashim, in between the words "darosh" and "darash" it is written: "Half of the words of the Torah." Why is the half-way point in words significant?

The ways of Hashem are far above human comprehension. Often we question and try to fathom His actions. It is perfectly all right to seek explanations, but we must always remember that even if we do not find a reason or a rationale, we should never conclude that Hashem is, G-d forbid, wrong.

In this perashah we learn that Moshe, too, had questions and was seeking answers. The Torah's half-way point is marked in the middle of his questioning to allude that he had realized that he had only reached the middle and there was much more ahead which he had not yet learned. Hopefully, as his Torah knowledge increased, his questions would be answered. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: Why is Vehu Rahoom, which is recited prior to Arbit on other nights of the week, omitted before Arbit on Friday nights?

Answer: On a weekday night, Vehu Rahoom is said in order to plead for G-d's mercy against the judgment that is brought on by the night. On Shabbat, there is no such judgment. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


"Its hoof is not split" (Vayikra 11:4)

The Torah lists three animals that chew their cud but are unkosher because they do not have split hooves. Interestingly, the terminology is different for each of the three animals. Regarding the camel, it says in the present tense, "its hoof is not split." With the hyrax, it says in the future tense, "it will not split its hoof." For the hare, it writes in the past tense, "it did not split its hoof."

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter explains that even though the Torah is discussing laws pertaining to animals, we should also learn a lesson regarding our fellow man. There are times when we may consider a person "unkosher," and not worthy of our respect. Before reaching this conclusion, one must analyze the person's past, present and future. If we are sure that his past and present are not good, and there is absolutely no chance that he will improve in the future, only then may we classify him as "unkosher." Otherwise, he must be treated with respect and kindness.

Question: How quick are you to judge other people's actions? Do you consider the fact that special circumstances may have led them to do what you felt is wrong?


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18 - 46:18.

The regular haftarah for this perashah is from Shemuel II, which tells the story of how King David brought the Aron to Jerusalem with great celebration. Along the way, the Aron suddenly looked like it was about to fall, a man named Uzah rushed to support it, and he died on the spot. Similarly, in our perashah, Nadab and Abihu offered a strange fire in the Mishkan and were punished with immediate death. Both incidents served to sanctify Hashem's Name because they showed the extreme holiness of the Aron and the Mishkan.

However, since this week is Shabbat Hahodesh, and we read a special maftir, a different haftarah is read. This haftarah begins by instructing the Kohanim to take a bull for a sacrifice on the first day of the month of Nisan. This maftir and haftarah are always read on the Shabbat which falls on or immediately before Rosh Hodesh Nisan.

He remained silent, and accepted it as Hashem's will.

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