The Parsha this
week, Emor, (Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:1-24:23) presents an interesting
Mitzva. “A bull, sheep or goat that is born to you shall remain under its
mother for seven days. From the eighth day onward it is acceptable as an
offering to G-d" (Vayikra (Leviticus) 22:27).
Why does the
Torah refer to the newborn animals by their mature names instead of the
usual calf, lamb and kid? The Torah wants to teach us that an animal is born
with its entire potential already actualized. It cannot develop into something
greater than it already is at this “age”.
Its qualities will never
erode, but its inherent faults will always remain.
Young at Heart
Not so for human beings. Man
is always capable of more. Rabbi Akiva, for example, was forty years old
before he learned to read Hebrew, yet he became one of the greatest Torah
scholar in history. Every human being, background and affiliation
notwithstanding, can transform him or herself and thus make great strides
The Circumcision Milestone
A calf is born and lives for
one week. Having completed one full cycle of life, it reaches its greatest
milestone: it is ready to be brought as an offering before G-d. There is no
sense in waiting any longer for it won't develop into more than it already is.
Mankind, on the other hand, lives for one week and only then begins the
journey. Circumcision, performed on the eighth day, enables us to begin a
process that only intensifies as we grow and mature.
(Though girls are not
circumcised they don't miss out on this process. Jewish thought views women as
endowed at birth with the inherent quality that men receive only at
circumcision. In this sense women begin their process of spiritual growth one
week earlier, from the time of birth.)
It is never too late to turn
over a new leaf. Life is filled with milestones. Birth, circumcision, bar/bat
mitzvah, graduation, marriage, parenting, grand parenting and so on. If
physical maturity marches inexorably forward, it follows that spiritual
maturity can, and should, at the very least, keep pace.
Have you ever felt
like losing your temper but at the last moment you managed to restrain
yourself? These types of inner battles often happen when encountered by a
traffic officer or similar representatives of officialdom. But this conflict
can happen just as well on the domestic front.....and the same restraint is
The Parshah of Kedoshim (Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:1-20:27),
begins with the concept that we should be holy. What exactly does this mean?
The commenter Rashi explains that the term "holy" implies
self-restraint. There are many temptations in life. To be holy means to have
the ability to control one's immediate impulses.
commentator, Nachmanides, makes the point that this self-restraint may
sometimes take a person to a point beyond the simple letter of the law. Jewish
law permits a person to eat kosher food: but should one be an
out-and-out glutton? According to this view, even if the food is as kosher as
could be, restraint is power; it shows that one is truly free as an individual,
rather than just being just a slave of one's appetite.
Do you remember the
story of Jacob and Esau and the plate of lentils? One way
of understanding that story is that Esau was ready to sell his birthright, the
most precious thing in his life, for a plate of food. One response might be:
"How pathetic!" Others might feel sympathy with someone who is
sometimes a slave to his senses. They might say that after all, this is our
human situation. Nonetheless, one should expect a person to aspire
to be master of his or her own being. A human being, yes. An animal -- no.
Much of the Parshah
is devoted to giving guidelines about this kind of self-mastery, in a number of
different areas of life. The keynote to all these is the famous teaching
"Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). Rabbi Akiva taught
that this is the great principle of the Torah and it relates to all
other aspects of Jewish thought and all areas of personal relationships. This
includes, as well, the instruction not to take revenge, nor even to bear a
grudge. This certainly needs self-control: in our actions, our words and even
Imagine such a
person! Does he or she actually exist?
We can imagine this
behavior happening with a very simple, naive or even inspired kind of person,
who never sees bad in anyone. Or we can imagine a person of power, who has
acquired genuine inner self-mastery. But us, for ourselves as well? Can we
exercise such self-restraint? But if the Torah instructs us to do so, then we
have that ability!
What is power?
Throughout history people thought that it means mastery over others. Now we
realize, it is mastery over oneself.
Daily life presents
us with many instances of personal battles and confrontations, as suggested and
implied in our Parshah. This would include our relationships with our parents,
in business dealings, dealing with giving charity, in the borders and
involvements between men and women, and also regarding our behavior when we are
genuinely in power over others, e.g. as judges - to be fair in all areas of
judgment to both rich and poor.
This Torah portion
poses the challenge for man to exercise the power of restraint, in order to
build a world of goodness for the future. Man has that ability to restrain
himself when and where needed, which will help bring about an entire world
filled with holiness.
from Chabad.org – by Rabbi Tali Loewenthal)
We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Lenore Tauber, OBM, (Leah Zissel bas Avraham) the mother of Mrs. Fraida Cohen.
The levaya will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, at 12:00 pm at the Bloomfield Cooper Jewish Chapel, 2130 Kings Highway, Ocean, NJ, and kevura will be at BethEl Cemetery (Cedar Park/BethEl) , 735 Forest Ave, Paramus, NJ.
(For information or updates on the timing of the kevura, text Rabbi Cohen 845-216-4554).
Mrs. Cohen will begin sitting shiva with her siblings at her sister’s home - 1100A Thornbury Lane, Manchester NJ and then in her own home at 5 Crestview Terrace, Monsey, starting on Friday and ending on Tuesday morning.
The family requests to limit visits from 10:30 am - 10:30 pm.
May we share only good news in the future.
The Cohen Family
week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated in
memory of Elka bas Zisel OBM
in memory of Leah bas Rochel OBM
Any abrupt change of font size in a written work attracts
attention. Surely so in the Torah, where every detail and nuance is of great
In this week's Torah portion, which begins the
third Book of the Torah, Vayikra (Leviticus - 1:1-5:26), there
is a particular change of font. The letter Alef, as it is written in
the Torah in the opening verse of this week’s portion “Vayikra
el Moshe” ("And G-d called
to Moses"), is tiny. Noticeably smaller than the usual
sized Alef or the other letters in that passage, it excites
comment and query from synagogue audiences every year.
Chasidic thought explains that this change is to give an
indication of Moshe’s (Moses') unparalleled humility. Though he was unique
amongst men in his communicating directly with G-d, despite the fact
that he was the leader who had defeated the Egyptians and freed the Jews and
brought the Torah down to the world at Sinai, he nonetheless remained the most
humble man ever to exist on this earth (Numbers 12:3).
Interestingly, the small Alef of our Parsha is
contrasted by another font change elsewhere in the Bible. The name 'Adam', the
first man and the personal handiwork of G-d, is written once with an
oversized Alef, (Divrei Hayamim [Chronicles] 1:1) to denote his
grandeur and, by extension, the potential greatness of all humans--the ultimate
purpose of creation,
To exist is to have a purpose. G-d created nothing without
reason. One needs to constantly bear in mind one's responsibilities and to live
up to the large Alef.
Recognition of one's worth, however, should never lead to
hubris and conceit. Moses, the most accomplished person ever to live, was also
the most humble. The small Alef reflected his awareness that his
talent and ability were gifts from G-d. He constantly asked himself, "Have
I truly utilized my full capabilities?"
Humility does not mean self-delusion, but rather an
awareness of one's talents, tempered by the acknowledgement of where they come
from. Moshe was aware of his qualities but he did not take any credit for it.
In fact, he would say: "Were somebody else to be granted these qualities,
they would surely do even better."
This dual perspective of the dueling Alefs -- an
uplifting recognition of one's achievements tempered by the deflating sense of
accomplishment -- invokes a humility, yet with a drive to accomplish in
religion and life and thus justify one's very existence.
(Excerpts from chabad.org - Rabbi Elisha
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!
If you would like to dedicate the weekly Parsha
Perspective in honor or memory of a person or occasion, please contact Rabbi Shusterman