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Haftarah: Yehezkel 36:16-38

MARCH 28-29, 2008 22 ADAR II 5768


"Moshe and Aharon came to the Tent of Meeting…and the Glory of Hashem appeared to the entire people" (Vayikra 9:23)

In our perashah we read how after seven days of consecrating the Mishkan, "Moshe and Aharon went into the Mishkan and came out and blessed the people and the Glory of Hashem appeared." Rashi asks: Why did they enter, meaning, why did Moshe enter with Aharon, seeing as how Aharon and his sons were doing all the preparing. Rashi quotes a Midrash that at first Aharon went in alone and the Shechinah did not appear. This in spite of the fact that Aharon had been meticulously following all the rules to sanctify the Mishkan. He assumed that it must be his own fault because of his involvement with the sin of the golden calf. At that point Moshe went in and they both prayed for mercy and the Shechinah came down.

The next Rashi says the people felt shame because the Shechinah had not descended even after all of the sacrifices during the seven days of preparation. They assumed it was due to their sin of the golden calf. They told this to Moshe and he reassured them and told them that Aharon, who was greater than he, will ultimately succeed with his sacrifices, and the Shechinah would appear at the end.

Rabbi Y. Haber remarks that we have here an amazing pair of stories - Aharon (in the first) and the people (in the second). Each take blame for the failure and Moshe (in the second) gives credit for the ultimate success to Aharon. How different this is from the everyday world, where in a partnership, for example, if something goes wrong, a person will tend to blame his partner, and if something goes right, he will take credit for himself.

In the Gemara (Hulin 59), the story is related of how Rav, one of the Torah giants of his age, caught a deer. The deer had a limp, so he slaughtered it and checked it out and it was kosher. So he was about to roast and eat it medium rare. Shmuel, the other great Sage, was there and said that he had better roast it well done. Since it was limping it might have been due to a snake bite. If roasted very well the signs of poison could be seen. Rav took his advice and sure enough the signs of poison contamination were revealed. Shmuel said, "See how G-d guards the life of a saddik." Rav, instead of accepting the compliment, replied, "G-d reveals his secrets to you." We must remember that Rav and Shmuel were strong opponents in Torah and yet they were giving credit to each other.

A good community leader will be concerned only that a sound policy (his or someone else's) should succeed, not that he should get credit for it. A bad leader will be more concerned with keeping his reputation intact, than whether a policy succeeds or fails.

This conflict appears in all walks of life. Husbands or wives in relation to their spouses, parents in relation to their children, doctors in relation to their patients, lawyers and social workers in relation to their clients and Rabbis in relation to their congregants. All should ask, "Am I following such and such a policy because it's genuinely in the person's interest, or to make myself look good?" And if we do things with the right goals in mind we need not worry about our prestige and position. The Talmud tells us to "do things with the right intentions, and in the end, the honor will follow." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

On the opening day of the Mishkan, Moshe told his brother, Aharon, "Step up and do the Divine service, for this is why you were chosen." The Midrash tells us that Aharon was reluctant to come forward because he kept on visualizing the Golden Calf before him, and he thought it was a sign that he was not fully forgiven. Hashem reassured him that he was indeed forgiven, and he was the one picked to lead the service.

We learn from Aharon a wonderful trait. If a person does something wrong, don't be so sure it's forgotten so quickly. Generally, we tend to forgive ourselves much faster than we forgive others. When someone wrongs us we may hold a grudge or just remember it in our hearts, but if we do the same thing to others and we ask their forgiveness, we feel, "Let bygones be bygones." If we would realize that just as we don't forget so quickly, maybe others are the same way, we would be more hesitant before we do something wrong. And even if something did happen through us we would remember it longer, just like Aharon did, so that we would be more regretful, and this would lead to a complete reconciliation. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Aharon was silent" (Vayikra 6:3)

Aharon was greatly praised for remaining silent when his two sons died. What was the greatness of Aharon for not complaining against Hashem? Before something happens one might be able to take action to prevent it. But afterwards, what can one do? We find later Sages who excelled in accepting the will of Hashem. Rabbi Akiba always used to say when something apparently negative happened, "All that Hashem does is for the good." Nachum, ish gam zu, used to say, "This, too, is for the good." The Sages required us to bless Hashem for the bad just as we bless Him for the good. What then was the special praise of Aharon, the first High Priest, for his silence?

When a person says, "All that Hashem does is for the good," about something that originally disturbed or frustrated him, it implies that at first he was bothered by what happened. But as soon as he realizes the matter bothers him, he uses his intellect to overcome his negative reaction. Intellectually he knows that all that Hashem causes to occur is ultimately for the good and this knowledge enables him to accept the situation. But an even higher level is to internalize the concept that whatever Hashem does is positive and good. When this is a person's automatic evaluation of every occurrence, he does not have to keep convincing himself that a specific event is good. Such a person accepts with joy everything that occurs in his life. This was the greatness of Aharon. He remained silent because he knew clearly that everything Hashem does is purposeful. When things consistently go well for a person he feels an inner joy. The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem the greater joy you will feel in your life.

Acceptance of Hashem's will is the most crucial attitude to make part of oneself for living a happy life. The goal to strive for is to accept Hashem's will as your own. Whatever He wishes is what you joyously accept. Fortunate is the person who has mastered his attitude. (Growth through Torah)


"Do not contaminate yourselves through them lest you become contaminated through them" (Vayikra 11:43)

The Mesilat Yeshirim explains that one who is lenient regarding kashrut laws in those areas where Hazal have indicated stringency is destroying his soul. The Sifra comments on the above quoted pasuk, "If you will contaminate yourselves through eating them, you will ultimately become spiritually defiled through them." This means that consumption of forbidden food brings impurity and dullness into the heart of a person to the extent that the Shechinah distances itself from him. It may be suggested that the concept of "forbidden food" may take various forms.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Abot states: "If three have eaten at the same table and have not spoken words of Torah there, it is considered that if they have eaten of offerings to dead idols" (3:4). A table where Jews eat is likened to a sacred altar upon which sacrifices are offered. It is only through the proper intentions for eating, and by discoursing in words of Torah that this mundane act is elevated to sacred proportions. A meal in which these conditions are not met is devoid of holiness, and is thus likened to a meal of forbidden foods.

There is yet another form of food which may be likened to forbidden foods. The B'nei Yisacher relates in the name of his great teacher, Rabbi Mendel of Rimanov z"l, the following: "We sometimes notice that children who, although endowed with a special charm and sweetness of personality in their youth, lose their charm as they grow older. Although this change can be attributed to a variety of factors, it may be seriously maintained that a prime factor is their likely consumption of 'unkosher food,' namely that which was purchased with money that was earned dishonestly. If a child is continually nourished on such food, as the years go by, more and more of this charm disappears." These are but two examples of "forbidden foods" and the profound effect they can have on one's spiritual development. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: They were Aharon's cousins. They removed the bodies of Nadab and Abihu from the Mishkan.

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