Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Emor, Pesach Shaini, & Lag Ba'omer 5773

The Torah Portion of Emor 

"Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon".   (Vayikra 21:1) 

The Sages say that the Holy One Blessed Be He cautioned Israel about the holiness of the Kohanim.  This is analogous to the son of a king whose eating is not similar to that of the resident of a village; for if the son of the king eats the food of the villager, he won't digest his food and it will damage him.  Thus Hashem said to the Kohanim -- guard yourself from every impurity, for even a slight impurity can cause you damage.

"These are the festivals of Hashem...declare  them (Otam) in their season" (Vayikra 23:4)  

There is a Hebrew word in this verse "Otam" (them), which the Sages interpret as "Atem" (you).   That is to say, the interpretation is that YOU shall declare the festivals, even if you accidentally err, and even if you intentionally err in your declaration of the timing of the festivals.  If when it is written "Otam" (them), we interpret it as "Atem" (you), all the moreso in the verse "You are children to Hashem" in which it is explicitly written "YOU". Then certainly "You are children to Hashem", even if you sin by accident or on purpose; in all circumstances, you are still children of Hashem.

"And you shall afflict your souls " (Vayikra  23:27)  

After every fast we pray and request that the lessening of our blood and fat should be considered as if we were bringing a sacrificial offering, but that will be the case only if the blood and fat are pure. Therefore the Torah commands us to eat on Erev Yom Kippur so that the food we put into our bodies will be considered to be a Mitzvah,  and that  way we can say that our blood and fat which diminish on Yom Kippur are pure and come from the fulfillment of a Mitzvah, and then our sacrifice will be appropriate and acceptable.

Another reason why it is a Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur

The "Sefat Emet" says another reason why it is a Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur.  Since it is a day in which we need to forgive our fellow man, the Torah commanded us to eat and drink on Erev Yom Kippur, in order so that we will be relaxed and settled and will forgive our fellow man with a full heart, because when someone eats he has a happy heart.

Pesach Shaini

In the Mishna, Pesach Shaini is called Pesach Katan.  There are those who have a custom to eat Matzah during the daytime of the 14th day of Iyar, and there are those who have a custom to eat it on the night of the 15th of Iyar because that is when they used to eat it.  It is written in the prayer book of Yavetz that it was revealed from heaven why Pesach Shaini was fixed on this day; during the first year when they left Egypt they at Matzah until the night of the 15th of Iyar.  Because of that, the holiness (of Pesach) lasts until that night. 

Lag Ba'omer

One of the righteous people traveled one time to the gravesite of Rebbe Akiva, and it was very difficult for him to reach that place because it was a rocky road, and after he went a certain distance, he said that he didn't have the strength to continue, and he returned.  He said to his students: I will already meet Rebbe Akiva in the Mishna and the Gemara.  And so it was also said by a particular Rav to his students, that it is possible to meet Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai in the Mishna and the Gemara.  May his merit protect us and all of Israel, Amen.

It is written in books: On Lag Ba'omer the soul of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai spreads out over the whole world, and someone who does not travel to his gravesite in Meron in order to pray, is able to pray in any place.

Rebbe Shimon said that if he had been at Mount Sinai he would have requested that two mouths be given to man, one for Torah and one for other things, except that he was concerned  that if we had two mouths, we would be liable to destroy both of them with Lashon Hara (evil talk).  (From the Yerushalmi Gemara)

"His Torah protects us; it enlightens our eyes; he serves as a good advocate for us, our master Bar Yochai" (from the traditional songs sung on the night of Lag Ba'omer)

The Torah Portion of Emor has 124 verses, 24 positive commandments, and 39 negative commandments.  Haftora: "V'hakohanim Haleviyim" (Yechezkel 44)

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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