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Biography of Yehuda Katz | Archives | This Week's Parsha


"Hashem said to Moses: Say to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and tell them............"(21:1)

There seems to be a redundancy in the wording of the verse, namely "say" and "tell them". Rashi based on Yevomos 114a maintains that this is to teach us that the older priests were commanded to warn the younger priests concerning the status of the Priesthood as demonstrated by the laws that are to follow in the next verses. (Please look at the verses, and Rashi in particular for further elucidation on the matter.) A question can be asked, why is there the "extra" concern in regard to this matter ? What is it about "Kahuna" (priesthood) that warrants such particular concern? I would like to propose the following answer, Bezrat Hashem: The Priesthood is passed from father to son, its hereditary. Many times when something is given to a person for "free", its value might not be appreciated as it should. This is natural to all people. The Torah is , therefore, obligating the older priests to warn the younger priests of the tremendous obligations that is associated with the priesthood. This must especially come from the very people that are the primary transmitters of this honor, namely the older priests. However, the Torah is teaching all of us a very important lesson that goes beyond the Priesthood. A Jew must realize and appreciate the value that he has by the mere fact that he or she are Jewish. This distinction is also hereditary, and prone to being undervalued. We need to work very hard on making ourselves more appreciative of our religion. It takes work and effort to fulfill our personal and national purpose. It's not enough that we are Jewish by birth, we must at the same time strive to fulfill the religious aspirations of Judaism.In this regard we find a fascinating incident in the Book of Jonah. (Please refer there for further details.) We find that as the ship was about to capsize, his shipmates ask Jonah ' Ma melachtecha' (What is your profession?) Jonah responds by saying, 'I am a Jew, and I fear G-d in heaven.' This is the key to our dilemma. It's not enough to be born a Jew, a person must strive to fear G-d in heaven like the Prophet Jonah defined himself as. This was Jonah's occupation, and this is ours as well. Jonah knew very well the work that goes into "being" a Jew. He achieved great spiritual heights in that he was a Prophet. When confronted by the question, 'what is your profession?', Jonah intuitively knew the correct answer without any hesitation. We must also follow suit, and know the answer to that very question. Have a good shabbos


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