Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Emor & Lag Ba'omer 5777

The Torah Portion of Emor 

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'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
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

"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.

The Torah writes that the Succot and Arba Minim (Four Kinds) should be majestic and beautiful.

HaRav Yakovson ztz"l would explain this by means of a parable.  There was a boy whose mother needed to dress him in beautiful clothing so that he could participate in a Simcha (happy occasion).  The boy came from the street, and his body and clothes were dirty. Then his mother went to dress him in his beautiful holiday clothes.  People told her, that's not the right way.  First give him a bath, and when his body is clean then dress him in the beautiful clothing.  And similarly, this also applies to the people of Israel.  During the month of Elul we purify ourselves, and also on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  And after that, we arrive at those things which have majesty and beauty --  a beautiful Succah, and the Arba Minim (Four Kinds) which are majestic.  

Regarding two holidays it is written "on that very day" -- Shavuot and Yom Kippur

The reason is that because all of the holidays are connected to events which occurred in the past.  Passover is connected to the Exodus from Egypt, and Succot is connected to the Clouds of Glory. But Shavuot, which is about the giving of the Torah, even though this also was an event which has already occurred in the past, nevertheless, on every single day it should be in your eyes as if it is something new -- as if the giving of the Torah occurred "on that very day".  And with regards to  Yom Kippur, the Holy One Blessed Be He forgives us (every year) "on that very day".

"...That I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in Succot..."  (Vayikra 23:43)

The Tur asks why we don't build Succot in the month of Nissan, since the Succot are a remembrance of the Clouds of Glory, and the Clouds of Glory were there immediately upon our leaving from Mitzrayim (Egypt).  The Gr"a explains that after the Sin of the Golden Calf, the Clouds of Glory disappeared, as it is written: "...and Moshe saw the nation, that it was uncovered..." (Shemot 22:25), that is, they had become revealed to everyone's eyes since the Clouds of Glory had disappeared.  It was only afterwards that the Holy One Blessed Be He forgave Israel for the Sin of the Golden Calf, as it is written "I have forgiven according to your word" (Bamidbar 14:20), and that was on the 10th of Tishrei (Yom Kippur).  Immediately afterwards on the day after Yom Kippur, on the 11th of Tishrei, the Children of Israel were commanded about the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  During the course of two days they brought the donations for the Mishkan, that is on the 12th and the 13th of Tishrei.  On the 14th of Tishrei all the wise-hearted took the donations for the Mishkan in their hands and immediately on the 15th of Tishrei they began to occupy themselves with building the Mishkan.  It was then that the Clouds of Glory returned.  Therefore we find that on the 15th of Tishrei, which is the time when the Clouds of Glory returned, we make a remembrance for that on the Holiday of Succot.

Sefirat Haomer

It is written in the Holy Books that "Sefirat Haomer" (which is the name of the time period during which we count the 49 days of the Omer) has a linguistic connection to the words "Sapphire" and "Zohar" (brightness), because these days shine with a great light so that we will be capable of  preparing ourselves for receiving the Torah.

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.

There are those who ask:  Why is it that on the day that Moshe Rabbeinu died, there are those who fast, whereas on Lag Ba'omer, which is the day when Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai passed away, that has been established as a day of happiness?  And the explanation is, that when Moshe Rabbeinu passed away 3,000 Halachot (details of the Jewish law) were forgotten, and on Lag Ba'omer, the opposite occurred, for on that day many of the secrets of the Torah were revealed.  And it is also written in the book of the Zohar, that Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai wanted that we would be happy on this day.  

Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai 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)

Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai says: Great is the honoring of father and mother, for Hashem made honoring them equivalent to honoring Himself.

"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)

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4.

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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