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APRIL 1-2, 2005 22 ADAR II 5765

Pop Quiz: Who removed the bodies of Nadab and Abihu from the Mishkan?


"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

"These are the life forms that you may eat." (Vayikra 11:2)

Our perashah devotes a lot of space to discuss the laws of kashrut. Rashi says, "the word "hayah" is related to the word "hayim" - life. Because Israel clings to Hashem and are fit to be alive, He separated them from impurity and decreed upon them misvot. But to the other nations of the world, he said nothing." We should feel honored that we have laws of kashrut and never feel the desire to eat what the gentiles eat.

A story is told about a great Rabbi from Halab (Aleppo) named Rabbi Shalom Chiski. One Ereb Pesah he was walking through the market and noticed that the Romaine lettuce being sold was extremely wormy. He knew that many people would be buying a lot of this lettuce for the maror of the Seder. He knew that it would be extremely difficult to properly check and clean the lettuce. The Rabbi decided to remove this stumbling block from the people, and he bought up all of the lettuce in the market and disposed of it in a way that it could not be used. As a result of this act he received Divine assistance. Once Friday night after making kiddush his wife was about to bring out the Shabbat food. He told his devoted wife not to bring out any of her food, just some vegetables and olives. She asked no questions and the food was never brought out. The next day the Rabbi announced that no one should eat from the meat that was prepared for Shabbat. The people listened without any reason given. After Shabbat it was revealed that gentiles stole the kosher seal and stamped the unkosher meat as kosher, and sold all the unkosher meat as kosher. The people were stunned that the Rabbi possessed such prophetic powers. The Rabbi said that as he was saying kiddush he saw in front of his the words of the vidui (confession), "We stumbled on the sin of unkosher food."

We learn that since the Rabbi was very careful with prohibited foods both for himself and others, Hashem made sure that he wouldn't stumble inadvertently over that same sin. We can merit the same protection if we are careful. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And the sons of Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, each took his own incense pan...and they offered before Hashem strange fire...and then a fire came out from Hashem's Presence and consumed them" (Vayikra 10:1-2)

Rashi cites one reason for the death of Aharon's sons to be their decision to voice halachic rulings in the presence of their teacher, Moshe. The Talmud (Erubin 63a) explains that they asserted the halachah about placing wood shavings on the Altar, despite the fire's miraculous descent from heaven. The Talmud confirms that the act of rendering halachic decisions in front of one's Rabbi is punishable by death. To illustrate this point, the Talmud quotes a story concerning a student of Rabbi Eliezer who rendered a decision in his Rabbi's presence. Rabbi Eliezer mentioned to his wife that the student would not live another year, and he did not. The Ein Ya'akob suggests that the student truly deserved such a dreadful punishment because Hazal have likened one who publicly embarrasses another to a murderer. A student who renders a halachic decision in the presence of his Rabbi is acting as if his Rabbi were incapable of making the decision on his own. Such a student displays a conduct comparable to that of a murderer. Thus, he merits the death penalty.

We must understand that our right to exist comes through recognition of the authority of Hashem, His Torah and its disseminators, from Moshe until today. Awareness of the erudition of Torah scholars of previous generations encourages us to study their halachic decisions reverentially before boldly proffering our own views. A student who challenges his Rabbi by asserting his own position in his Rabbi's presence is, in effect, exhibiting a total disregard for the fundamental principles of Torah. This attitude of defiance, albeit inadvertent, poses a great danger to the future of Torah transmission. Therefore, strong disciplinary action is mandated. (Peninim on the Torah)


Question: Why are we required to say Hamosee on two loaves of bread on Shabbat?

Answer: This is to commemorate the double portion of manna received in the desert on Fridays. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 36:16-38.

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, we read a special maftir this week which discusses the purification process for someone who has become impure through contact with a dead body. In the haftarah, Hashem describes how He will cleanse the Jewish nation from their spiritual contamination, and help them to do teshubah and follow the correct path. Just as the ashes of the Parah Adumah were sprinkled on an impure person to make him pure again, Hashem also says, "I shall sprinkle pure water on you so you will be cleansed."

Answer to Pop Quiz: Misha'el and Elsafan, cousins of Aharon.

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)

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