Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5 )
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GOOD MORNING! Would you like your children to have the same love - or greater - for Judaism and the Jewish people than you do? Values are not inherited or legislated. They are instilled through our children watching us and seeing what we do and what we value.
Unless we provide experiences and talk about the things that gave us our appreciations, our kids will have different experiences and discussions ... and quite possibly different values. We CAN give positive Jewish experiences - like Purim! - and your kids will have even more to love about being Jewish!
Purim is coming up next week, Monday night, March 17th, through all day Tuesday! The Fast of Esther is Monday, March 17th. I was perusing Shimon Apisdorf's The One Hour Purim Primer -Everything a family needs to understand, celebrate and enjoy Purim (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242). One thing that Rabbi Apisdorf wrote, greatly impacted me: If a family is a "twice a year to synagogue" family, then he "votes for Purim and Simchas Torah (when everyone dances around celebrating the completion and beginning of reading the Torah)." Our kids should see and be a part of the joy of being Jewish!
Q & A: WHAT IS PURIM AND HOW DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
Purim comes from the word "pur" in Persian which means "lots" - as in, "Haman cast lots for the most 'auspicious' date to kill the Jews." The date fell out on the 13th of Adar. The events of that date were turned around from a day of destruction to a day of victory and joy. We celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar for:
"...they gained relief on the fourteenth, which they made a day of feasting and gladness." (Megilat Esther 9:17)
(In very few places - most notably in Jerusalem - Purim is celebrated the following day, the 15th day of Adar. The Sages declared that all cities which were walled cities at the time of Joshua should celebrate Purim the following day. This is to commemorate the extra day which King Ahashverosh granted Esther to allow the Jews of Shushan [the capital of Persia, which, by the way, was a walled city] to deal with their enemies. In Shushan they gained relief on the fifteenth. The holiday is called Shushan Purim in those locales.)
There are two ways in which to try to destroy the Jewish people - physically and spiritually. Our enemies have attempted both. Chanukah is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to culturally assimilate us (the Greeks and Western Culture); Purim is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to physically destroy us (the Persians, ad nauseam).
Why do we masquerade with costumes and masks on Purim? Nowhere in the Megilat Esther is God's name mentioned. If one so desires, he can see the whole Purim story as a chain of coincidences totally devoid of Divine Providence. Just as we hide behind masks, but our essence is still there, so too God has "hidden His face" behind the forces of history, but is still there guiding history.
Why do we make noise every time Haman's name is mentioned in the Megillah? The answer: Haman was an Amalekite, from that people which embodies evil and which the Torah commands us to obliterate. By blotting out Haman's name we are symbolically wiping out the Amalekites and evil.
The holiday is celebrated by hearing the Megilah Monday night and Tuesday morning. During the day only, we fulfill three mitzvot:
- Matanot L'evyonim - giving gifts or money to at least two poor people. (While it is good to give locally, one can fulfill the mitzvot by giving at http://kerenyehoshuavyisroel.com/keren/families/index.cfm for the poor Jews of Jerusalem).
- Mishloach Manot - the "sending of portions," giving at least two ready-to-eat foods to a minimum of one person. One should send via a messenger. (You can order Kosher Purim baskets from: White's Candies Tel. (305) 865-0433 or http://florists.ftd.com/surf).
- Seudah - a festive meal.
During the meal we are commanded to drink wine until we don't know the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman." (It can also be fulfilled by drinking a little and taking a nap - one doesn't know the difference between them while sleeping...)
Why are we instructed to drink this amount? In a certain sense, Purim is greater than Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we fast and it is easy for our soul to have dominance over the body. Purim is the epitome of integrating the physical and the spiritual towards realizing that the Almighty loves us. The only thing that stands between you and the Almighty - is you. The wine and the spirit of the day help us get beyond the barrier - to realize that everything comes from the Almighty and that it is ultimately for our good!
The Mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and giving gifts to the poor were prescribed to generate brotherly love between all Jews. When there is love and unity amongst us, our enemies cannot harm us!
The Torah view of cosmology is that every season of the year has a spiritual component and opportunity. Passover is the time of Freedom, Shavuot is the time of committing ourselves to the Torah, Rosh Hashana for judgment, Yom Kippur for atonement. Purim is the time of joy in obliterating the enemies who seek to destroy us. It will be more than coincidental if the war to remove Saddam Hussein begins on Purim - or Shushan Purim! The last Gulf War ended on Purim...
Torah Portion of the Week
The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.
Ramban, a noted Spanish rabbi, explained that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva - correcting his erring ways.
This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), first grain, peace, sin (private and communal), guilt korbanot (varied upon one's ability to pay), korban for inadvertently expropriating something sacred to God, and also to help atone for dishonesty.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And if he does not have the financial means for two turtledoves or for two young pigeons, then he shall bring his offering for his transgression, the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering." (Leviticus 5:11)
What lesson for life is the Torah teaching us?
The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan (1839-1933), comments that we see from here how the Torah established different requirements for a wealthy person and a poor person. A wealthier person's offering must be worth more money for him to fulfill his obligation. If a wealthy person will bring the offering of a poor person, his offering is not valid and he is still obligated to bring a larger offering. The same is true of our obligation to give charity. The more money you have the greater is your obligation to give charity. Every person is obliged to give a tenth of his income to charity. One who earns a hundred times more than someone else must give a hundred times more charity.
The same concept also applies to other talents. The greater your intellect, for instance, the greater your obligation to share your wisdom with others.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 14:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:53 Hong Kong 6:13 Honolulu 6:21
J'Burg 6:07 London 5:43 Los Angeles 5:41
Melbourne 6:20 Miami 6:10 Moscow 6:12
New York 5:43 Singapore 7:00
Happy 60th Anniversary!