Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sh'mini 5777

Torah Portion of "Sh'mini" - Shabbat Mevorchim  

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov

"...Come near to the sacrificial altar..." (Vayikra 9:7)

The Satan showed Aharon the likeness of a calf, in order to interfere with his performance of the Divine service, so Moshe said to him, "Come near to the sacrificial altar" (Vayikra 9:7), don't be afraid. (from the Da'at Z'kainim) From this we learn that when the Satan comes to prevent us from serving Hashem, we need to strengthen ourselves. (from Masters of Mussar, i.e. ethical teachings)

"And Moshe said to Aharon: Of this did Hashem speak, saying: 'I will be sanctified through those who are close to Me'." (Vayikra 10:3)

The death of Nadav and Avihu was by burning of the soul with the physical body remaining intact. Moshe said, that they were greater Tzadikim (more righteous) than himself and Aharon.

"...the sons of Aharon that were left..."  (Vayikra 10:16)

The Sages say that one needs to make oneself like a "leftover", and that is why the verse says "the sons of Aharon that were left", that is to say, that they made themselves like "leftovers", lowly in their own eyes, and because of that they merited to survive.  (from the Evnei Ezer)

"And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, TO SAY TO THEM: Speak to the children of Israel, saying, these are the living animals..." (Vayikra 11:1-2)

It is written in Trei Eser, "And your sons and daughters will prophesy", that in the future to come Hashem will speak with all of Israel. The Sages say that Moshe Rabeinu did not want to nurse from the Egyptian women because in the future he would speak with the Shechina, and that is what is emphasized in this verse (Vayikra 11:1) by the words "TO SAY TO THEM"; that in the future the Holy One Blessed Be He will speak with all of Israel, and therefore we need to be very careful in the matter of food and to eat only that which is Kosher, so that we will be worthy to have Hashem speak with us.

Mussar (Ethical Teachings) from the Chafetz Chaim

The Chafetz Chaim says: just as we are careful not to put into our mouths forbidden foods, so one also needs to be careful about what he puts out of his mouth, that is to say, forbidden words.

The Differences between the Mishkan and the First Temple, in comparison to the Second Temple

There were five things missing in the Second Temple:  The Aron (Ark), the container of Mannah, the staff of Aharon, the Holy Name which was part of the Urim and Tumim, and the annointing oil.  Also, the fire in the Second Temple was not like the fire in the Mishkan and the First Temple.  In the Mishkan and the First Temple, the fire came down from Heaven and appeared like a lion, and in the Second Temple the fire didn't come down from Heaven and it looked like a dog.  (based on Yoma 21a)

PIRKEI AVOT (Ethics of the Fathers)

We say Pirkei Avot during the summer season, for a total of four cycles. A siman (sign) of when when we usually do that is given by means of Roshei Teivot (initial letters) based on the Hebrew word "Nefesh".  The letters which spell the Hebrew word "Nefesh" (in English: "soul") are  "Nun", "Pey", and "Shin".  "Nun" stands for "Naso", "Pey" stands for "Pinchas", and "Shin" stands for "Shoftim".   Usually, the times when we start to say Pirkei Avot -- besides the first time -- are when we read the Torah Portions of Naso, Pinchas, and Shoftim.   Also, there is another reason why the Hebrew word "Nefesh" ("soul") is connected to Pirkei Avot -- because Pirkei Avot contains teachings which help us to repair the defects of the soul. 

"Moshe received the Torah from Sinai..."  (Pirkei Avot 1:1)

Why is it written "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai"?  Isn't all of the Torah from Sinai?  The reason is that within Pirkei Avot, what is discussed are matters of ethics and proper conduct, and also amongst the other nations of the world there have been people who have published books about proper conduct and ethics.  But those people made up their ethical values on their own, and the ethical values of Israel were given at Sinai.  (from Rav Ovadia M'Bartenura)

"...the Men of the Great Assembly..." (Pirkei Avot 1:1)

There were 120 Men of the Great Assembly, and there are those who say 85.  Amongst them were the prophets Chagai, Zacharia, and Malachi.  The last one of them was Shimon HaTzaddik.  They returned the crown of the Torah to its place, after the Babylonian exile of 70 years.

"He used to say..."  (throughout Pirkei Avot)

It is written in Pirkei Avot a number of times, "he used to say".  What does this expression mean?  On a simple level this means that the Sage being quoted was accustomed to say those words on a regular basis.  And there are those who explain that he himself was an elevated person who lived in accord with the principle that he stated, and not just that he used to say it to other people. 

The Days of Sefirat HaOmer (the counting of the Omer)

It is written by the Ramban (23:36) that the days of the counting of the Omer (the 49 days counted from the second day of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot arrives on the 50th day) are like Chol HaMoed -- the intermediate days of a festival.

The Torah Portion of Sh'mini has 91 verses, 6 positive commandments, and 11 negative commandments.The Haftorah is "V'yosef Od David" (Sh'muel Bait 6)

This is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Iyar.  The Molad is Yom Dalet (Wednesday) at the hour 7:48 and 11 Chalakim.  Rosh Chodesh Iyar is on Yom Dalet and Yom Hey (Wednesday and Thursday).

We begin to say Pirkei Avot, Chapter One

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

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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