Illuminations #156, Nissan 5778, Parshat Shemini

KollelNerHamizrach__illumination logo

Illuminations #156, Nissan 5778, Parshat Shemini

Torah Gems

“And Aharon was silent” (Vayikra 6:3). Aharon was greatly praised for remaining silent when his two sons died. What was the greatness of Aharon for not complaining against Hashem? We find later Sages who excelled in accepting the will of Hashem. Rabbi Akiva would always say whenever something apparently negative happened, “All that Hashem does is for the good.” Nachum, Ish Gam Zu, used to say, “This, too, is for the good.” The Sages required us to bless Hashem for the bad just as we bless Him for the good. What then was the special praise of Aharon, the first High Priest, for his silence? When a person says, “All that Hashem does is for the good,” about something that bothered him, it implies that at first he was bothered by what happened but as soon as he realized that the matter bothered him, he used his intellect to overcome his negative reaction. Intellectually he knows that all that Hashem causes to occur is ultimately for the good and this knowledge enables him to accept the situation. But an even higher level is to internalize the concept that whatever Hashem does is positive and good. When this is a person’s automatic reaction in every situation, he does not have to keep convincing himself that a specific event is good. Such a person accepts with joy everything that occurs in his life. This was the greatness of Aharon. He remained silent because he knew clearly that everything Hashem does is purposeful. Acceptance of Hashem’s will is the most crucial attitude to make part of oneself for living a happy life. The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem the greater joy you will feel in your life. The goal to strive for is to accept Hashem’s will as your own. Whatever He wishes is what you joyously accept. Fortunate is the person who has mastered his attitude. (Growth through Torah)

Parsha Pearls

“And do not defile your souls with any vermin which crawls on the earth, for I am Hashem Who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Vayikra 11:44-45). Usually, when the Torah reminds us that Hashem freed us from Egyptian servitude, it uses the term “Hamotzee – Who brought you out.” Here, however, the Torah says “Hama’aleh – Who brought you up,” to teach us that abstaining from forbidden foods, and especially from the forbidden species of vermin, has an uplifting effect on a Jew. The Sages (Yoma 39a) gave a homiletic interpretation of the previous verse “v’nitmetem bam – and you will be defiled by them [if you eat them].” The defilement referred to is that the heart would be blocked, as it were, resulting in insensitivity to spiritual concerns. On the other hand, someone who is careful about what he eats will have an open heart and find it easier to develop a benevolent outlook toward his fellow man. This is the “bringing up” that Hashem spoke of in our verse, an elevation of the spirit from the pride, selfishness and cruelty that characterized the Egyptian mentality. May we be privileged to carefully watch what we eat so that our souls are elevated to get closer to Hashem.

Glimpses of Greatness

A story is told about a great Rabbi from Aleppo named Rabbi Shalom Chiski. One Erev Pesach he noticed that the Romaine lettuce being sold in the market was extremely wormy and it would be extremely difficult to properly check and clean the lettuce. He was worried that many people would be buying a lot of this lettuce for the maror of the Seder. The Rabbi decided to remove this stumbling block from the people, and he bought up all of the lettuce in the market and disposed of it. As a result of this act he was rewarded with Ruach Hakodesh. One Friday night after making kiddush he told his wife not to bring out any of her food, just some vegetables and olives and the next day the Rabbi announced that no one should eat from the meat that was prepared for Shabbat. The people listened without any reason given. After Shabbat it was revealed that gentiles stole the kosher seal and stamped the unkosher meat as kosher, and sold all the unkosher meat as kosher. The people were stunned that the Rabbi possessed such prophetic powers. The Rabbi said that as he was saying kiddush he saw in front of him the words of the vidui, “We stumbled on the sin of unkosher food.”