Parshas Achrei Mos - Kedoshim
For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table
Dedicated in loving memory of Avigdor ben Avraham Z"L
Open Your Heart
The Torah says in Vayikra 19:17-18, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against your countrymen; you shall love your neighbor as yourself -- I am Hashem." The Ramban explains the juxtaposition of these mitzvos as follows. If someone does something to you that you do not like, "do not hate him in your heart." Rather, "reprove your fellow," express your thoughts to him and tell him that you feel he was wrong. Then you will "not bear a sin because of him" by not telling him and hiding your hatred in your heart. One of two things will then happen. Either he will explain himself and you will see that what he did was not wrong. Alternatively, he will admit his guilt, regret it, and do tshuva. Afterwards, be careful not to take revenge or bear a grudge in your heart because of what he did to you. Lastly, the Torah commands you to love him.
Children, we can learn many things from the Ramban. Let us focus on the second mitzvah of reproving (correcting) your fellow Jew. When someone says or does something that hurts us, the Torah is telling us not to hold our feelings in our hearts. We should open our hearts and express our thoughts to the one whom we felt wronged us. It is especially important to share our thoughts with Abba and Imma. They love us so very much and want to help us. Sometimes we feel they did not treat us fairly. It is very important to explain that to them. In fact, the more we communicate with them, the better they will understand us. That will enable them to give us a better education. So, let us be open with each other children, and have only good feelings for each other in our hearts.
Which Path Will Hashem Choose?
Mrs. Cohen, may I please borrow your flour sifter?" "No, I am sorry Mrs. Schwartz, I do not lend my things out." The next day the roles are reversed. Mrs. Cohen comes to Mrs. Schwartz and asks, "May I please borrow your eggbeater?" What should Mrs. Schwartz do? Rashi tells us that if she says, "I am not lending to you Mrs. Cohen, because you did not lend to me," she has violated the prohibition against taking revenge. Even if Mrs. Schwartz does lend the eggbeater to Mrs. Cohen but says, "You did not lend to me, but I am not like you," she has violated the prohibition against bearing a grudge.
The Ohr HaChaim says that these responses show that the lender still harbors ill feelings in her heart. If that is the case, she cannot possibly fulfill the next mitzvah of love your neighbor as yourself. Children, how can we remove these hard feelings from our hearts? The Chofetz Chaim tells us a parable. A certain man needed to find a man named Reuven. He asked some people where he could find this Reuven. They directed him to a group of people, suggesting that Reuven may be there. The man searched through the entire group and did not find Reuven. Would that man be angry with someone because his name was not Reuven, rather it was Shimon or Levi? Of course not. He would keep searching until he did find Reuven. So too with Mrs. Schwartz. Why should she be angry with Mrs.> Cohen for not lending the flour sifter? Hashem wanted her to get the flour sifter from a different person. When we go to borrow something children, let us keep this in mind. Then we will never have hard feelings. And we will truly be able to fulfill the mitzvah of love your neighbor as yourself.
Just One Less
You shall be holy for holy am I, Hashem your God." (Vayikra 19:2) Why does the fact that Hashem is holy require us to be holy? In addition, what does it mean to be holy? The Medrash Tanchuma (Kedoshim 2) answers the first question with a parable. When a king marries a woman, she becomes the queen. The honor that is bestowed upon royalty must be given to her, purely because she is the wife of the king. The Jewish people are referred to as Hashem's bride. Therefore, we must be like He is because we are wedded to Him. What does it mean to be holy? The Ramban explains that the Torah details which foods are permitted and which are forbidden. It makes no mention of maximum amounts. It is foods. Therefore, the Torah commands us to be holy. Do not overindulge in that which is permitted. Abba and Imma give us treats for a reason, children. For example, to enjoy Shabbos. If we eat too many treats, then we are overindulging in something that is permitted. We do not have to eat up all of the cookies on the table. If we each leave one cookie, then we are already learning to control ourselves. That is the first step toward holiness.
The Special Cholent
In Parshas Kedoshim we have the mitzvah of not embarrassing a fellow Jew, as it says, "do not bear a sin because of him," (Vayikra 19:17). As the Gemora says in Kesuvos 67b, "It is better for a person to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to shame someone in public." There is a famous story about Rebbe Avigdor Halberstam. He was a very holy person and ate very little food. Each Shabbos he would conduct a tisch for his Chassidim. They delighted in joining the Rebbe's Shabbos meal. The cook would prepare a huge bowl of cholent, he would taste a little, and they would give out the rest to the Chassidim. One particular Shabbos, instead of taking a small taste of the cholent, the Rebbe ate an entire portion. Upon finishing that, he took another portion and ate that. He did not stop there. Rebbe Halberstam ate portion after The Chassidim were shocked. They never saw the Rebbe eat like that. After the tisch had finished, one of the Chassidim could not contain his curiosity. He went over to the Rebbe privately and asked him why he had eaten the entire cholent. "When I took the first taste, I knew the cook had made a grave mistake," said the Rebbe. "She had put kerosene into the cholent and had ruined its taste. The cook was an elderly widow, and for me to reveal her mistake would cause her terrible humiliation. Therefore, I ate the entire cholent." Do you see, children, what a person must do in order to avoid embarrassing a fellow Jew? May Hashem help us to never be embarrassed or to shame another.
Enjoy your Shabbos table !
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