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Tzav 5763

Tzav (Leviticus 6-8 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  I received a very interesting email from Micha Males. He asked for my help - and the help of thousands of others as the email spread - to return a diamond ring his wife found in a restroom at a rest stop on the highway from Cleveland to Baltimore. Right before his wife went to use the facilities, they noticed a woman returning from the Ladies Room to the car next to them with a man wearing a yarmulke (kippa, Jewish head covering). After discovering the ring, she ran to catch the woman, but they had driven off.

Mr. Males figures that the woman took off her ring to wash for Hamotzie (before eating bread, one washes his hands by pouring from a cup at least twice on the right hand and twice on the left hand). Realizing that this is a great story about the power of the internet to connect people and to help them, I wrote Mr. Males ( - in case you know a lady who lost a diamond ring!) to find out the rest of the story.

Unfortunately, not even the power of the internet - so far -has reunited the woman with her diamond ring! No one has written with any clue as to the owner of the ring.

What motivates Micha and Penina Males to work so hard to return a diamond ring? Why not just keep it? They could be hundreds if not thousands of dollars richer! Micha and Penina know something that generations of Jews have known - that one of the 613 commandments that the Almighty gave the Jewish people is Hashavas Aveida, returning a lost object. In the book of Exodus, chapter 23, verse 4, it is written:

"If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall repeatedly bring it back to him."

They also know that real riches come from fulfilling the Almighty's commandments.

The verse is puzzling. We can understand returning a friend's ox, but why an enemy's? I think the Torah is teaching a very important lesson - the goal of life is to perfect yourself and be God-like. Even if you have feelings of dislike, you must overcome them and return the item. Perfecting your character is at least as important as the owner retrieving his property. As it says in Pirkei Avot 4:1, "Who is mighty? He who conquers his passions and desires."

Note that the verse says, "you shall repeatedly bring it back to him." The Talmud, Bava Metzia 31a, instructs us that even if someone's animal gets lost 100 times, we are obligated to bring it back each and every time. Talk about conquering frustration!

What are some of the laws in the Code of Jewish Law, the
Shulchan Aruch (which is a compilation of rulings from the Talmud) governing lost items? The laws are from Choshen Mishpat (CM), the section of the Code of Jewish Laws concerning property matters. This list is from Love Your Neighbor by Z. Pliskin:

  1. We are obligated to return lost items to their owners (CM 259:1).

  2. It is forbidden to pass by a lost object without picking it up (CM 259).

  3. If you take a lost object for yourself with the intention of stealing it, you violate one positive commandment ("You shall surely bring it back to him," Ex. 23:4) and two prohibitions ("You shall not steal," Lev. 19:13, and "You may not hide yourself," Deut. 22:3).

  4. Not only does this commandment obligate us to return an object that is already lost, but whenever someone's property or possessions are in danger of being destroyed or lost, we are obligated to try to save them (CM 359:17).

  5. The finder of a lost article must guard it and take care of it so that it will not become ruined (CM 267:16-18).

  6. If you do not know the identity of the owner, you must make an
    announcement (or post notices) about it in public places (CM 267:4,7).

These are just a few of the laws. There are many. Life is complex. A competent Halachic authority, a rabbi knowledgeable in Jewish law, should be consulted for details and decisions. And then you can polish the diamond that is your soul through the Mitzvot - the commandments - and riches far beyond lost diamond rings!


I highly recommend the Passover Survival Kit by Shimon Apisdorf to make the holiday meaningful, relevant and enjoyable. Available at your local Jewish bookstore or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. Why have a "Hurry Up and Let's Eat" Seder? You can make the Seder a wonderful experience!

Torah Portion of the Week

This week's Torah portion includes the laws of: the Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, High Priest's Offering, Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings. It concludes with the portions of the Peace Offerings which are allotted to the Priests and the installation ceremony of the Priest for serving in the Sanctuary.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"This is the law of the burnt offering." (Leviticus 6:2)

The verse can alternately be read as: "This" is the principle of the arrogant person (the one who looks upon himself as - in the Hebrew, "haOlah" - an exalted person.) The arrogant person constantly demands "This!" He wants things to be done his way, immediately and without consideration of the needs of others.

An arrogant person always wants to have everything his own way. The person's thoughts are focused only on what he or she wants. He is totally self-centered and inconsiderate of others. This trait causes much strife in interpersonal relationships. If two people in a relationship both demand that things must be their way, they will quarrel all the time. If such a person finds someone who is submissive to him, he will get his way, but at the heavy price of causing another human being pain and anguish.

What to do? All of us has a certain degree of arrogance in us. Be aware of the needs and feelings of others. Be willing to compromise on your demands of how things should be. While you need not always give in to others, when you take someone else's needs into consideration, you gain spiritually more than you would have by demanding that only your wishes should be met.

And if it is someone else who is arrogant and demanding? Obviously send him or her a copy of this week's edition.


"Be diligent to learn Torah, know what to answer the heretic, know before Whom you toil; trustworthy is your Employer to pay the reward for your labor."
    -- Rabbi Elazar

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New York 5:50  Singapore  6:58


Man is the only animal
that blushes ... or needs to.
--  Mark Twain

In Loving Memory of
Jerome & Doris Greenfield
and Nathan & Betty Pepper

by Steven & Sheila Greenfield

In Loving Memory
Charles Simon

In Loving Memory of
Peshe Tzirel bas Moshe
by Sol and Anna Zuckerman

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