Illuminations #116, Iyar 5777, Parshat Acharei Mois- Kedoishim

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Illuminations #116, Iyar 5777, Parshat Acharei Mois- Kedoishim


Torah Gems

It says in this week’s parasha, “With this (בזאת) Aaron shall enter the sanctuary.” The Alshikh explains that in the merit of the Torah which is called זאת Aharon Hakohen was able to enter the sanctuary. The word  בזאת has the numerical value of 410 which comes to inform us that the first Temple would stand for 410 years and the Kohanim (who were the descendants of Aharon Hakohen) would enter the sanctuary at that time.

If not for the merit of the Torah that they studied the Temple would not have stood that long. Seven Batei Dinim performed idolatry, yet G-d did not destroy the Temple. Once they stopped studying Torah, however, the Temple was destroyed. G-d was prepared to forgo the judgment for the idolatry but was not willing to overlook the lack of Torah study.

This explains why Ribbi Hanaya ben Teradyon says in the Ethics of the Fathers that when two people sit together and speak words of Torah, the Shekhina rests between them.

Parsha Pearls

It says in this week’s Parasha קדושים תהיו. The Ramban explain that there are many physical things that the Torah permits. One may eat Kosher meat, drink Kosher wine, be with his wife and so on. The Torah does not give restrictions as to how often these things may be done. This imposes a great danger, which the Ramban calls a “glutton in the boundary of the Torah מנוול ברשות התורה.” A person might say to himself, “Since I am allowed to eat kosher meat and wine, let me constantly indulge.” This is improper conduct in the eyes of the Torah. The Ramban explains that the Torah is warning us here not to act in such a manner. Hashem gave us a beautiful world to enjoy. However, we must not make this physical world our focus. One must constantly remember his purpose in this world, and what his focus should be. Our purpose is creating a connection with Hashem, and the pleasures of this world should be used as a means to arrive there.

Glimpses of Greatness

After a long back breaking day in one of the camps in the Holocaust, Rabbi Gladstein went to the corner of his barrack and prayed Arvit. When he was about to start the Berakha of Barekh Alenu one of the Nazi guards walked in. saw this man praying,  and nearly beat him to death. Then he shouted, “Your entire family is up in smoke, who are you praying to?!” When he left the barrack Rabbi Gladstein got up, walked back to were he was previously praying, and continued where he left off.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is clicking glasses (of wine etc.)  for a l’chaim following an idolatrous custom of the Nations?

A.  On festive occasions, like a seudah for Shabbat, we raise our glasses and sometimes say a l’chaim. Is it permitted to click glasses when so doing? Perhaps  it is following a non-Jewish custom? The  Torah says, “And do not follow the customs of the Nations (Chukat Hagoy)“ (Vayikra 20-23). The question was asked: when clicking glasses for a l’chaim, may it be prohibited because perhaps it is following the idolatrous customs of the Nations (Chukat Hagoyim)? Mevaser Tov (79) answers that we find a source for the custom in Amos (6-6), “’Those that drink wine out of bowls (hashotim  b’mizrakei yayin)’ that they throw their glasses together “(Shabbat 32b). He answers further that since  there is an independent reason for the custom it should be permitted. The independent reason for clicking glasses is that because there are five senses: the sense of taste, smell,  hearing , touch and seeing. When one takes a glass of wine in hand and drinks there are only four senses benefiting, because the sense of hearing is not deriving any benefit. Therefore, the audible clicking of the classes together benefits also the fifth sense of hearing (which is missing otherwise).

Furthermore, since making a blessing over the  drinking is rooted in Holiness, it is  therefore permitted to follow this custom because it is a custom of our fathers to make a l’chaim, as they say the gematria of lechaim (98) is the same as the gematria of  minhag (i.e. custom, also  98). We also find that Knesset Hagedolah (Orech chaim 167 hagabbai ot 4, R. Chaim Benbenisti, Z”L) brings down as a legitimate Jewish custom lifting and showing a glass to his fellow in order that he drink with him, and then answering l’chaim; Kaf Hachaim (Orech Chaim, 108; R. Yaakov Chaim Sofer, Z”L) also brings the custom.

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