MARCH 28-29, 2014 27 ADAR II 5774
"And there will be an affliction of sara'at on his skin." (Vayikra 13:2)
Our Sages tell us that sara'at (a disease similar to leprosy) comes as a punishment for speaking lashon hara. We find in the Sefer Shemuel (1:20) that when Yehonatan wanted to inform David that Shaul was planning on killing him, he did not tell him directly. Rather, they devised an elaborate plan whereby he gave the message indirectly, by the manner in which he instructed his servant to retrieve the arrows that he had shot. This whole plan seems strange since they did speak to each other that day after sending the servant away. Why did they use that plan? Why not speak directly? The answer is that they didn't want to speak lashon hara about Shaul, but said it in a roundabout way.
The obvious question is: since this was a matter of life and death, there certainly was no issue of lashon hara in telling David that Shaul wanted to kill him. If so, why couldn't Yehonatan have told him directly?
The Vilna Gaon zt"l (quoted in Torah Ladaat) deduced from this that even when it is permissible or even where there is a misvah to tell lashon hara one should tell only what is absolutely necessary, and if it is possible to get the message across without actually speaking it, it's best to do so in that manner. If this is true in a life and death situation, it will certainly apply in our daily lives. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Reuven Semah
The perashah tells us that when certain sins were committed, a plague would affect either the homes, the garments or the skin of the Jewish people. Although this seems like a severe punishment, we must realize that all punishments are merely signals to us to examine our ways and improve our conduct.
Once, the owner of a large factory wanted to hire an experienced engineer. He advertised in all the trade journals and announced the time and place to interview for the job. Many candidates turned up at the designated time, but the owner failed to appear. Hours passed. The candidates grew annoyed and began to shout in anger. Only then did the owner come out calmly from his office to address the crowd. He said, "I don't know what you are angry about. You have been waiting in vain. Two hours ago, at the exact time that I had set, I sat in my office and began tapping out signals in Morse Code indicating that anyone who understood me should come into my office for an interview. Only one of you picked up my message and entered my office. He is the one whom I have chosen for the job. The rest have failed the test."
We know that Hashem is All-Merciful and loves us like a father loves his children. Very often, we get "signals" sent to us, some in the form of punishments. Punishments don't only mean drastic things, G-d forbid. Rather, they can also include inconveniences, minor frustrations and the regular ups and downs of everyday life. We must learn to recognize these signals from Hashem and focus on their meaning and their intent. This way we will live up to our status as the "Chosen People." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an Elevation-offering, and a young dove or a turtledove for a Sin-offering." (Vayikra 12:6)
Upon completing her period of purification, the yoledet, woman who gave birth, brings two korbanot, offerings, because she seeks atonement for two types of sin. The Korban Olah, Elevation-offering, atones for any resentful thoughts she may have had against her husband or Hashem during the painful moments of childbirth. The Sin-offering atones for the possibility that, in her dire pain, she might have sworn never to have physical relations with her husband. The requisite of two atonements for one activity is rare. The following anecdote reinforces this idea, lending us insight into the character of one of this past century's most inspiring gedolim, Torah giants.
Rav Meir Shapiro, z"l, was a master in so many areas. A prolific talmid hacham, Torah scholar, a brilliant speaker, and intellectual, he was the founder of not only the Daf Yomi, but also the great Yeshivah of Lublin. Unlike any other yeshivah, it catered to the best of the best, providing its students with excellent physical amenities, such as a beautiful bet midrash, dormitory, and real food. All of this cost money, which kept its Rosh Yeshivah quite busy, traveling the world to raise money for his beloved yeshivah.
The story goes that, on one of his trips, Rav Meir had occasion to visit a city in Eastern Europe, which was home to a very wealthy Jewish industrialist. There was one problem: This man wrote the book on tightfistedness. He lived well, but he refused to share his wealth with anyone. The Lubliner Rav visited him. The man not only refused to give him anything, he even kept him waiting before he would see him. This was tremendous zilzul b'kavod ha'rav, humiliation of the honor becoming such a distinguished Torah personage.
Rav Meir refused to ignore the man's snub. He said, "I am not a yoledet; I did not recently give birth that I require two kaparot." He turned his face to the door and was about to leave, when the man who he was soliciting blocked his exit. "You may not leave until you explain to me the meaning of your statement," the man said.
Rav Meir replied, "My intentions were simple. There are times when I visit a wealthy man and, while I do not receive my desired sum or sometimes anything at all, at least I am treated royally and given the respect that a man of my position demands. When this occurs, I say 'A kaparah, the money! The money is an atonement.' At least I received a little honor. I was not mistreated. In other instances, I meet a philanthropist who gives me a nice check, but does not assuage my ego. I then say 'A kaparah the kavod. At least I received a nice check.'
"In your case, however, I was mistreated, allowed to cool my heels for one hour in the hall, and - to add insult to injury - I received no check for all my troubles. That is why I declared that I was no yoledet, because only a woman who recently gave birth brings two kaparot."
When the man heard this explanation, he realized that he was speaking to no ordinary person. He immediately wrote out a nice check to Chachmei Lublin, and he continued to do so every year for quite some time. (Peninim on the Torah)
The ability to make decisions is a key element of achievement. Successful executives, who know that procrastinating can result in the loss of a profitable opportunity, encourage their management personnel to make the moves that will keep the company going forward. The managers, in jturn, drive their people to do what it takes to overcome obstacles and move on to the next challenge.
Our Sages say that the word "now" in Scriptures indicates a call to repent. Their intent is to teach us that once we realize our errors, we should act immediately to make amends. Delay will only cause us to rationalize and forget the feelings of guilt or shame that constitute a healthy alarm calling for teshubah - repentance.
Sometimes, people who are inspired to do good are lazy to act. The yeser hara - evil inclination - does not say, "Don't do it!" Instead, he encourages a small delay: "Do it later." How many smokers are going to quit "tomorrow," and how many overweight individuals are going to start their diet "after the weekend"? But the same evil inclination that advocates procrastination when it comes to doing good, also pushes people to immediately fulfill desires which are harmful to the spirit or contrary to a commandment of the Torah.
Wise people deal with the wiles of the evil inclination by reversing his instructions, thereby rechanneling the yeser hara's directives into spiritually successful behavior. When doing good, wise people act with alacrity to do the Will of Hashem. When responding to a physical desire, they delay gratification and consider the gain vs. loss of temporary satisfaction.
Success is easy for those who know when to stop and when to go. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
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 email@example.com (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
Please preserve the sanctity of this bulletin. It contains words of
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org