Weekly Reading Insights
Overview of the Weekly Reading:
To be read on 1 Iyar 5763 (May 3)
Torah: Lev.19:1-20:27, Maftir Num. 28:9-15;
Isaiah 66 (Rosh Chodesh)
Avot - Chapter Two
Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
Kedoshim 7th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 30th
overall, contains 13 positive mitzvot and 38 prohibitive
mitzvot. It is written on 109 lines in a parchment Torah scroll, 49th
out of 54 in overall length.
begins with a list of many different mitzvos by which the Jews are commanded to
“be holy” (19/1). These include honoring parents, keeping Shabbos, the forbidding
of idolatry, stealing, false testimony, perversion of justice, hating another
Jew, bearing a grudge, mixing wool and linen in one garment, and more, including
‘love one’s neighbor as oneself’ (19/18). This list is then followed by another
which concerns forbidden practices as in agricultural laws, consumption of blood,
belief in omens, seeking out mediums, tattoos, immorality, removing a man’s sidelocks,
and more. The Jews are also commanded to respect elders, have honest weights,
loving converts, and a number of other mitzvos. The last section lists transgressions
and their corresponding penalties.
FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:30-63
shall be holy... and My Sabbaths you shall keep (Leviticus 19:2,3)
shall be holy: The meaning of "holy" is "separate" and "apart";
the Jew is distinguished from the non-Jew in all aspects of his life. This distinction
must be apparent not only when one is involved in matters of Torah and mitzvot,
but must be equally evident when engaging in those activities such as eating,
drinking, sleeping, etc. that are seemingly shared with non-Jews.
And My Sabbaths
you shall keep: The strength to do this is derived from Shabbat itself, for it
reminds us that G-d's relationship with the Jewish people is super-rational and
above the constraints of nature. This knowledge in itself grants us the ability
to become involved in worldly matters in a manner of holiness and purity.
A MYSTICAL CHASSIDIC DISCOURSE
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALA (K:29-63
with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition of Shney
Luchot HaBrit -- the Sh'lah,
as translated, condensed, and
annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the 'Sh'lah' - an acronym of
the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding reputation, he served
as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort (1610-1620). After his
first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel in 1621, where he became
the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He later moved to Tiberias, where
he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.
from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Zefat on the
Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
The world is realizing the
old Talmudic idea, "according to the effort is the reward", or a colloquial
version, "no pain no gain". Personal change requires effort, so don't
rely on quick fixes. One of the classic Jewish methods of personal change is the
idea of making a periodic spiritual inventory. Chassidic lifestyle requires that
this inventory be done daily, before sleep; monthly, at the end of a month; and
twice yearly, on a birthday and before Rosh Hashanah.
Once, the Lubavitcher
Rebbe suggested making this self-evaluation at the beginning of Iyar! Have we
taken in the full impact of last month, Nissan, the month of redemption? By the
end of Nissan we should have absorbed all the miracles of the month and be living
in a redemptive state of mind!
Have we focused our perspective to see
that both our own personal redemption and the final universal redemption are dependent
on how we act? Are we ready to take this consciousness into the new month? Now
that it is Iyar, if each of us will take the next step towards truly living Judaism,
we will undoubtedly accomplish our goal. This idea is reflected in the first word
of this week's Torah portion: "Kedoshim" - meaning sanctified and separate.
The message is not to remove ourselves from the world, but rather to utilize our
"Nissan" ability to elevate it and help it attain its full potential
in this era of Mashiach! Jews are supposed to impact their environment - not the
other way around. This Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat are a rare opportunity. Make the
Rabbi Yechiel Michil of Zlotchov had certain important principles
he felt should guide a person's life: First, we must search within our Torah learning
for divine messages of better ways of serving G-d. Second, we must be mindful
of the power of speech; Reb Michel was careful that his words not harm anyone,
and he always emphasized that whatever he said to someone else was meant first
for himself - if it did not apply to "Michel", then he questioned whether
it applied to others at all.
He explained and asked us to picture that
the source of all speech is in the supernal worlds, which descends to us via divine
vessels. Humans are the final vessel and vehicle for the expression of speech.
As custodians of this divine element, it is our important responsibility not to
harm or taint the divine gift of speech. Furthermore, speech used for Torah study,
and prayer can transform us for the better. Therefore, rather than being abused,
our faculty of speech must be protected. If mistreated below, speech is affected
in its source above.
Now, just as in the physical worlds our father and
mother are our source in that they grant us life and provide for our needs, so
too exist spiritual worlds called "father" (Abba) and "mother"
(Imma). These are the spiritual sources of all other worlds, including the source
of speech, which is subsequently actualized in our world when we talk.
week's portion teaches us, "A person, his mother and father, he should be
in awe of" (Lev. 19:3). This verse also hints to the "parents"
of our speech. When, G-d forbid, one does not speak properly, it causes harm to
this lofty source. We must respect this parent in order to maintain propriety.
Through words of Torah, mitzvot and appropriate speech, we can actually
repair misdeeds and positively affect ourselves.
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter
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