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Haftarah: Yehezkel 43:10-27

FEBRUARY 7-8, 2013 8 ADAR I 5774


“You shall make garments of sanctity for Aharon, your brother, for glory and for splendor.” (Shemot 28:2)

The pasuk above goes to great lengths to describe the special and glorious garments of Aharon, the Kohen Gadol. Truthfully, however, all Jews are called kohanim, “and you shall be for me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation” (Shemot 19:6). We are all like kohanim serving Hashem with our prayers, study of Torah and observance of his misvot, which fills up our lives. Therefore, just like the kohanim have special clothing when they do the special service in the Temple, so too all of us must have special clothing to tell the world that we serve Hashem.

Rabbi Shimshon Pincus zt”l points out that our clothing has to be special in three ways. First, they must be modest and not like the latest fashions of the gentiles. The main purpose of the latest fashions is to arouse the sensual desires of others and to promote impure thoughts, and to shun anything that is holy. Second, we must be careful from violating the Torah law of shaatnez, which is the mixture of wool and linen. Third, we must wear the clothing of misvah, which is sisit for the men. This misvah is equal to all the misvot of the Torah.

People think that the main function of garments is to physically protect and don’t really have any spiritual meaning. This is wrong. It is true that they protect the body from cold and heat, but they also serve to protect the inner spiritual self of a person. It is clear that someone who is wearing clothing that shows that he is a Torah observant Jew will find it difficult to mix with undesirables. Also, it protects from sin. It is difficult for a person clad in Jewish religious clothing to go into a restaurant that is anything less than strictly kosher. All the more so for someone who wears Rabbinical garb.

Man’s first garments were made by Hashem and given to Adam and Eve. The Sages describe them as garments of light (a play on the word “or” which literally means leather but also sounds like “or” which means light. Our garment of sisit, which is a garment of “light,” protects from physical accidents, just like a mezuzah protects our homes. So too the yarmulke on our head is like a crown of glory, and a candle of Hashem over our heads. Both of these, the sisit and the kipah, protect us from harm. I think nowadays it is a very precious commodity. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

One of the eight garments that the Kohen Gadol wore was the me’il - the robe which was made of totally blue wool. It also had bells attached to the bottom so that when the Kohen Gadol walked it would be heard that he was approaching. The Torah emphasizes that these sounds should be heard when he enters the Holy Chamber and this way he will merit to live.

The Rabbis learn from here that although there are deep and esoteric reasons for these bells, on a simple level they are there to announce the arrival of the Kohen Gadol. We learn from here the importance of derech eress, common protocol. When we enter a room or a house, even our own, we should always knock so as not to startle others. If there are strangers inside, how much more so should we not enter without permission. Sometimes we think that since we’re involved in a misvah it’s OK to bypass derech eress. From the Kohen Gadol who is doing the biggest misvah we see otherwise. As the famous statement goes “Derech eress precedes the Torah.” Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


Media moguls pay fortunes of money to those who can criticize the talents and performance of high-profile public figures. Sportswriters, political analysts, and theater critics can make or break the careers of aspiring athletes, politicians, or actors. Criticism is a talent that can be financially lucrative.

We all act as critics hundreds of times a day. Parents correct the behavior of their offspring in hopes of producing fine human beings who can contribute to society. Teachers critique the work of students in order to help them reach their educational and professional goals. Friends criticize friends, hoping to help them avoid future errors in conduct.

Why are we all so helpful when it comes to pointing out the flaws of others?

Psychologists offer several explanations. The feeling of being alone is a powerful force that drives people to try and convert people to their way of thinking. A second theory is that people like to feel superior to others and so, rather than elevating themselves, they cut another down to their size (or lower) by pointing out the other’s shortcomings and flaws.

Some people are motivated by feeling powerless over their environment. The complex, fast-paced society we live in makes this reason more important than it might have been in generations past. We want to assert our commands so that our way becomes a standard by which others live. We want to have the gift of a free choice, but we want to deprive others of the same freedom.

We must realize that each human being has strengths and weaknesses. We all have room for improvement, and we all have areas of expertise which we can use to contribute to the welfare of others.

If you avoid the urge to rule over others – if you can give up the power trip – you can start to criticize in measured, helpful ways instead of beating others down by highlighting their negative points. Self-improvement – not destruction of another’s self-esteem – is the best way to reach new heights. Instead of criticizing, find the words and the tone that will express love for others and the desire to help them pick themselves up to a higher level – even a strata higher than the one upon which you stand. (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 (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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