Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20 )
GOOD MORNING! What more can we do to help our fellow Jews and Israel? There are rallies in many locations and people are meeting to plan out a course of action. In whatever we do, all of our efforts need a spiritual component. Rallies should contain a prayer for those injured and captured, psalms should be repeated line by line for the merit of Israel and the Jewish people (sheets would need to be prepared in advance with transliteration and translation) and signs should be made with quotes from the Prayer Book or Torah. We need to remember that the Jewish people were not redeemed from Egypt until we cried out to the Almighty. The Almighty saw our suffering, but until we recognized the true power to save us and returned to the Almighty to cry out to Him for help, we were not taken out of Egypt!
HaRav HaGaon Elyashiv, one of the leaders of world Jewry, has requested all Jews worldwide to take 15 minutes out of their hectic daily schedules, and to say psalms for Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people), which is now at war. Any of the psalms will be of enormous help, but psalms 20, 83, 121, 30 and 142 are most appropriate. Psalms are available in Hebrew and English from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. Say the Psalms in whatever language you are most comfortable.
The Jewish people are eternal. We have faced more than one might think should be our share of persecutions and threats to our survival, yet we have survived them all. I think that no one has said it better than Mark Twain. This week I am bringing you Mark Twain's famous words to remind us all, to focus us, to strengthen us in this dire time.
"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.
"His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.
"The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
--Mark Twain, "Concerning the Jews," Harper's Magazine, 1897
Torah Portion of the Week
Acharei Mot includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol cast lots to designate two goats -one to be sacrificed, the other to be driven to a place called Azazel after the Cohen Gadol - the High Priest -confesses the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a very popular epithet in srael to instruct another person in the heat of an argument to "go to Azazel." (I don't believe the intent, however, is to look for the goat.)
The goat sent to Azazel symbolically carried away the sins of the Jewish people. This, I surmise, is the source of the concept of using a scapegoat. One thing you can truly give credit to the Jewish people - when we use a scapegoat, at least we use a real goat!
The Torah then proceeds to set forth the sexual laws - who one is not allowed to marry or have relations with. If one appreciates that the goal of life is to be holy, to perfect oneself and to be as much as possible like God, then he/she can appreciate that it is impossible to orgy at night and be spiritual by day.
The Torah portion of Kedoshim invokes the Jewish people to be holy! And then it proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals - a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your fellow man" (Leviticus 19:16). When we see that someone's life is in danger, we are forbidden to stand idly by if we are able to save him.
As soon as Rabbi Aharon Kotler escaped to the United States at the beginning of the Second World War, he established the famous wartime Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee) which all through the war kept alive many refugees in Europe, Russia, and Shanghai. Rabbi Kotler went to the American Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Henry Morgenthau, a Jew, and asked for his assistance. Accompanied by an interpreter, Mr. Irving Bunim, to translate his Yiddish into English, Rabbi Kotler pleaded to Mr. Morgenthau for government cooperation in the rescue work.
"If I am seen to favor my Jewish brethren, I will soon be out of office," said Mr. Morgenthau.
To this Rav Aharon told the interpreter to reply: "Saving Jewish lives is more important than holding even twenty positions like yours."
At first the interpreter refused to translate these words. Noticing the argument, Mr. Morgenthau insisted that he be told what Rabbi Kotler had said, and the interpreter acquiesced. Rabbi Kotler's reply so impressed him that he said, "If so, I will do my utmost and face the consequences."
As it turned out, Mr. Morgenthau's efforts proved invaluable in setting up the War Refugee Board, and he continued in office until after the death of President Roosevelt, who had appointed him.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 19:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:59 Hong Kong 6:26 Honolulu 6:34
J'Burg 5:30 London 7:45 Los Angeles 7:09
Melbourne 5:31 Miami 7:28 Moscow 7:24
New York 7:21 Singapore 6:50
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
If you want to feel significant,
do something significant.
-- Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller
In Loving Memory of