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Simcha Groffman

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Parshas Vayikra
(Parshas HaChodesh)

Rabbeinu Bechaye begins sefer Vayikra by speaking about the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe certainly had many attributes to be proud of beginning with the fact that he was the head of all of the prophets. Of his many exemplary middos however, the one that the Torah chose to praise was his humility. As the posuk says (Bamidbar 12:3) "The man, Moshe, was very humble." Due to his humility, he did not want to enter the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting surrounding the Mishkan) while the divine presence was resting there. This was notwithstanding that fact that Hashem had told Moshe that the Ohel Moed was the place where He would communicate with him. Even so, Moshe Rabbeinu would not enter unless he was summoned. That is how Sefer Vayikra begins, "And Hashem called to Moshe." Moshe only came when he was called. Kinderlach, humility is one of the finest middos that we can acquire. Shlomo HaMelech tells us in Mishle (22:4) that when one attains humility, Yiras Hashem (fear of Hashem), wealth, honor, and life also come to him. How does one become humble? He should not rush to speak, have patience, honor others, and praise them. He is quiet when unflattering things are said about him. Sometimes, kinderlach, Abba and Imma have to correct our mistakes. They need to tell us that we are doing something wrong. It is not always pleasant to hear criticism. A humble person is quiet when being criticized. He listens and takes what is being said to heart. Kinderlach, the opposite of humility is that terrible, terrible middah of chutzpah. One who has chutzpah will never grow in his middos because he is not able to listen to any constructive criticism. We want to avoid chutzpah at all costs. B'ezras Hashem kinderlach, we should all acquire Moshe Rabbeinu's middah of humility.

The Medrash in Vayikra Rabba 4:6 tells us that Klal Yisrael is compared to a young lamb. If he receives a blow on one of his limbs, his whole body feels it. So too with Klal Yisrael, when one person sins we all feel it. The Kohen Godol had the responsibility of making halachic decisions for all of Klal Yisrael. If he would make a mistake and poskin incorrectly, the entire nation would be affected. For this mistake, the Kohen Godol would have to bring a korbon on behalf of all Klal Yisrael. They would all be guilty of violating the halacha, albeit accidentally. So you see, kinderlach, that the aveyra of the Kohen Godol affected everyone. The Medrash tells a story about one person's error affecting everyone. There were once several people traveling together on a boat. One of them took out a drill, and began drilling a hole under his seat. His friends said to him, "What are you doing?" He replied, "Why are you concerned with what I am doing? I am only drilling under my seat, not yours." They said, "The water will come in through the hole and sink the whole ship." Of course when we hear this we all laugh kinderlach. How could one person possibly think that he could drill a hole under his seat and not affect the whole ship? Everyone who is on that boat has a responsibility to the others to not endanger their safety. To drill a hole is to ignore that responsibility. So too it is with Klal Yisrael, kinderlach. As the gemora says in Shavuous 39a, "All of Klal Yisrael are all responsible for each other." Everything that we do affects other Jews. When we do a mitzvah, we are helping everybody: Abba, Imma, our brothers, sisters, relatives, neighbors, friends, and all of Klal Yisrael. And chas veshalom, the opposite is also true. An aveyra (sin) affects everyone also. The story of the man in the boat is an example of lack of humility kinderlach. A concerned person saw him making a mistake and wanted to correct him. How do we reply when someone wants to correct us kinderlach? One who says, "Why are you concerned with what I am doing?" is just like that silly man on the boat.

Rav Zeidel Epstein in his sefer "Heoros" writes about Parshas HaChodesh. The mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh (sanctification of the new moon) shows the love that Hashem has for Klal Yisrael. He gave the Sanhedrin the responsibility to decide each month which day will be Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the month). This is a very important decision because the entire calendar is based upon it. By determining which day is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we decide when Pesach will begin. Therefore, the times of the prohibition of eating chometz and the mitzvah of eating matzah are dependent on Klal Yisrael's decision. The decision whether or not to add a month and make a leap year is also in the hands of the Sanhedrin. This can determine when a person's thirteenth birthday falls and he becomes obligated in mitzvos. We can see, kinderlach, that Hashem has entrusted us with an awesome responsibility by giving us this mitzvah. Rav Epstein quotes the gemora Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 1:2) and says that this mitzvah makes Klal Yisrael the masters over nature and gives us the keys to the entire world. We know kinderlach that a person gives responsibility only to people whom he trusts. The bigger the responsibility, the more trustworthy the person must be. We know how good it makes us feel when Abba or Imma show they trust us by giving us responsibility. Abba sends us on an important errand to deliver something valuable. Imma sends us to the store to buy something she urgently needs. Imma trusts us to watch the little children while she goes out or rests. These are all very important responsibilities, and the fact that Abba and Imma trust us shows how much they love us. We can therefore see how much Hashem loves us by how much He trusts us. He gave us such an important responsibility. Doesn't that make us all feel very good and very important? And doesn't that increase our love for Hashem?

Posuk 5:23 tells us that a thief who wants to do tshuva has a mitzvah to return the object that he stole. M. Frankel tells a story about this mitzvah in his sefer, "613 Stories on the 613 Mitzvos." There were two women in the city of Warsaw who gave their soiled clothing to a laundry woman for cleaning. Unfortunately, the poor woman passed away suddenly. The two women came to her home to collect their laundry. They found all of the clothes in one big bundle. One of the women said, "All of the laundry is mine." The other one claimed that she recognized her clothing and could separate it and take it. The heirs of the laundry woman were baffled about what to do. They decided to bring the matter to Rav Dov Ber Meizlish. They brought all of the laundry before the Rav and explained the problem to him. He sent for the two women. They each repeated their claims to the Rav. The Rav told each woman to go home and return to Beis Din the next day. The Rav then asked his children to put some of their laundry in the pile. The next day the women returned. The Rav asked the first one, "Perhaps there is something in this pile that is not yours?" The woman inspected the whole bundle of laundry and said, "Definitely not! Everything in here is mine." The Rav turned to the second woman and said, "Can you remove your laundry from this bundle?" The woman proceeded to separate the laundry into two piles. One contained the laundry of the Rav's family along with other clothing that she did not recognize. The Rav turned to the other woman and said, "It is not true that all of the laundry is not yours. You attempted to steal from the other woman. You should be satisfied with what you have, and not steal from others."

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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