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APRIL 8-9, 2005 29 ADAR II 5765

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Sunday, April 10.

Pop Quiz: How long after giving birth to a boy does a woman bring her sacrifices?


"And the Kohen shall see him" (Vayikra 13:5)

This perashah deals with negaim, which means afflictions, afflicting a person's skin or clothing or his house. The Ramban points out that these various laws apply only to the Children of Israel and that the laws of negaim of the house apply only in the land of Israel. This demonstrates that we are not dealing simply with a matter of health, but sara'at, which is similar to leprosy, is a physical manifestation of a spiritual illness. It was a condition sent to the people to arouse them to repent. If a person was guilty of slander, arrogance and greed, the person might get an outbreak of sara'at. A Kohen was notified to examine the plague to see if it was truly sara'at or something else. The Kohen was not a medical person, but a spiritual teacher.

Rabbi A. Pelcovitz notes that when the Torah speaks of the Kohen coming to examine the afflicted skin area of the victim, he is not only observing the skin but also the condition and circumstances of the individual. This is hinted to in the words ?vera'ah haKohen"? (13:3), meaning the Kohen shall see the skin problem itself, followed by the expression ?vera'ahu haKohen??(13:5), "And the Kohen shall see him."

For example, if the person is a hatan, a groom, during his seven days of celebration, or if a Yom Tob holiday is about to begin, the Kohen would abstain from declaring the condition to be sara'at. This was done in order not to ruin this happy time in a person's life. The Torah is much more concerned with the spiritual and mental well-being of the afflicted person than with the affliction per se.

The Torah considers the person in his particular situation. We should also always consider a person in his situation. Before we declare a person "impure," we must think, "Is this the proper time?" Don't ruin a person's happy day. Wait until later; there is compassion with delay. 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

Fully Covered

"And if the leprosy...will cover the entire skin of the afflicted person...the Kohen shall look and, behold, if the leprosy has covered his entire flesh, he shall pronounce the affliction clean" (Vayikra 13:12-13)

Why, if the leprosy has covered his entire body, does he become clean? It should be just the opposite: The more leprosy, the more contamination. The Torah says that during the period of confinement "The leper's clothing shall be rent, the hair of his head shall go loose, he shall cover up his upper lip, and he shall cry 'unclean, unclean'" (13:45). The rationale for this procedure is that the leper is considered dangerous to society. He is a person who mingles in the community and presents himself as admirable, but who in reality is corrupt and a bad influence upon others. Therefore, the rending of his garments is an allusion that his fa?ade shall be removed. Letting the hair of his head go loose indicates that his thoughts are erroneous and should not be accepted. Covering his upper lip indicates that his mouth must be closed so that he may not disseminate his corrupt philosophy. To make sure that people keep their distance, finally, he is to announce that he is unclean.

It is easy for a hypocrite to mislead innocent people by accentuating his good signs. A hypocrite is compared to the non-kosher swine. Though it does not chew its cud, it does have split hooves, which it displays to prove that is has a kosher sign.

Consequently, as long as part of the leper's body has still not been plagued, people may see good, healthy things in him and be impressed with his thinking. Once leprosy has broken out over his entire body and he is no longer able to conceal it, everybody will realize his falsehood and withdraw from him. (Vedibarta Bam)

Pray for Others

"He shall cry: Unclean, unclean" (Vayikra 13:45)

The Talmud states that the mesora shouted out, "Unclean! Unclean!" to publicize his plight in order that people should pray for his recovery. The Talmud adds that the same applies to anyone who is suffering. He should notify the public about his problem, and they will pray to G-d to have mercy upon him. (Sotah 32b)

From here we learn that when we hear about someone else's misfortune we should pray for that person even if we are not explicitly asked to do so. The Talmud does not state that the person whom misfortune has befallen must ask others to pray for him; all he needs to do is publicize his plight. On their own the public will understand that they have an obligation to pray for him.

The Hafess Hayim noted that this principle is specifically mentioned with reference to a mesora. The Zohar states that the prayers of a person who speaks lashon hara are not accepted. Since the mesora has spoken lashon hara, his own prayers will not help. Hence, he needs others to pray on his behalf. (Love Your Neighbor)

Why do we do that?

Question: Why don't we wear tefillin on Shabbat?

Answer: Three things are referred to in the Torah as a "sign" (,ut): Shabbat, Berit Milah and tefillin. Two witnesses are required for a valid testimony so we always need two of these three "signs" to testify that we are servants of Hashem. On weekdays, we have milah and tefillin. However, since Shabbat is itself a sign, we don't need tefillin as the second sign on that day. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)

The Haftarah Connection

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

The regular haftarah for this perashah would be Melachim II, which tells of a non-Jewish general of Aram, named Na'aman, who had sara'at and couldn't find a cure. He asked the prophet Elisha, to help him, and Elisha told him to dip seven times in the Jordan River, and he would be healed. When Na'aman did and was healed, Hashem's name was glorified, and Na'aman acknowledged that there is no other G-d in the world.

However, since this week is Parashat 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.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Forty days.

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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