Illuminations #154, Nissan 5778, Parshat Vayikra

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Illuminations #154, Nissan 5778, Parshat Vayikra

Torah Gems

Sefer Shemos is referred to as Sefer HaGeula, Book of Redemption, since in this sefer we became free people. In his introduction to Sefer Shemos, the Ramban poses the following question:  Why is Sefer Shemos called Sefer HaGeula if only the first four parshiyot discuss the redemption, and the remaining portions discuss the giving of the Torah and the building of the Mishkan? The Ramban explains that only after we received the Torah and erected the Mishkan did we have true freedom.

One can question the concept of freedom as described above. The questioner might argue that we are not truly free because we still have to serve Hashem and cannot do as our hearts desire. The answer lies in the questioner’s perception of freedom. Many believe that freedom means being able to do whatever you want whenever you want. This understanding is incorrect. Who is truly free? One who can overcome his urge at the moment for a greater goal is the truly free person. There is no better feeling than exercising self control. Real freedom is created through structure and limitations. When to get up, what entertainment to engage in, and when to go to sleep, help us create our peace of mind. If you look at the serene people in the world, their serenity is not due to money or following their heart’s desire. It comes from working on being a better person. Hashem’s gift of Shabbos is one such example. Although it appears restricting, at a deeper glance one will see that it gives us respite from the world so we can clear our minds. This answers our original question!  True freedom is serving Hashem because if we do not serve Hashem, we are slaves to our temptations.

Parsha Pearls

Currently we do not have a Mishkan or Beis HaMikdash, yet we create our own Mikdash within our home and minds. After we achieve freedom, we are ready to bring korbanot which we do in sefer Vayikra. Rav Wolbe explains that by taking the physical sacrifices and putting it in the spiritual mikdash we uplift even the mundane. So too we need to do this in our own little mikdash.

The verse in this week’s Torah portion says,  “When a person offers a meal offering to Hashem, his offering shall be of fine flour, he should pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it.” The Gemara in Menachot (104b) says the meal offering is the only voluntary sacrifice about which it says “nefesh-soul.” The reason for this is that while it is the least expensive offering, as it only consisted of flour, oil, frankincense, and water, it was no less important to Hashem. This sacrifice was brought by a poor person who could not afford more.  Hashem says that it is as if he offered his very soul with this small amount.

This idea teaches us a lesson, explains Rabbi Avraham Pam. Hashem wants us to do our best! Some of us may think that we are on such a low spiritual plane that our Mitzvot and Maasim Tovim are not important in the eyes of Hashem. This is incorrect! Hashem sees all of our frustrations and difficulties. He knows how hard it is to keep the Torah and Mitzvot in today’s society. Even someone who keeps it properly, Hashem knows how hard it is for him to grow further. Given all this, every little bit that you accomplish to grow higher in spirituality and make the necessary sacrifices is as if you have offered your soul to Hashem. May all of us believe in ourselves and others to keep striving for greater heights.

Glimpses of Greatness

Story: When the Chazan Ish was moving to Eretz Yisrael he chose to live in Bnei Brak instead of Yerushalayim. He explained that Yerushalayim is full of tzadikim while Bnei Brak is a spiritual wasteland.  His intention was to plant Torah seedlings in the city. The Chazan Ish felt that the only way to reach this goal was by building yeshivot and creating Bnei Torah. Over 75 years later, we see that his clear vision has provided great dividends. Bnei Brak is bustling with many Bnei Torah.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is one allowed to eat kosher types of food at the home of one who is not observant? [I-4-177]

A. Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 119-61) notes about one who is suspected of eating prohibited foods, that if he is suspected either in regard to a Torah prohibition or a rabbinical prohibition, one cannot rely on his testimony. If one is staying in his home, one cannot eat from his foods if they are foods which he is suspected in regard to transgressing a prohibition. Ramah says, and there are others that say, that even for one that is not under suspicion but simply [without intention] does not know about [the prohibition] but is otherwise upright, it is prohibited to buy from him wine or any other thing that there are [possible] issues  regarding prohibitions. This is the case if he is staying as a guest in his home and eating  with him.

Chaf Hachaim (Ad. Loc.- 100-3, R. Yaakov Chaim Sofer Z”L)  holds that it is prohibited to eat with him even things that are permitted like fruits, etc. This is because perhaps he may come also to give him things which are prohibited. As it is taught in Shabbat (11a), a zav may not eat with a zavah because it will accustom him to transgression. Similarly, Avneh Yishpeh(144, R. Yisreal Pesach Feinhandler Z”L) brings in the name of Rav Wosner that it is prohibited to eat with him even things which are essentially permitted. Minchat Yitzchak (3-73, R. Yitzchak Yosef Weiss Z”L) writes that it is prohibited to eat in restaurants that serve only dairy food alone, whose owners are Jews who violate the Shabbat publically, keeping the restaurants open on Shabbat.  Igros Moshe (Orech Chaim 2-40, R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) writes that to go to eat things that one knows there is no suspicion of being prohibited there is [still] a reason to prohibit it because of Marit Ayin [the appearance that something prohibited is permitted], and because of suspicion  (that one is violating halachah). If one is very hungry and there is no other place to eat, he is permitted to enter there to eat only things which are known to be permitted. But it must be eaten in completely privacy.