Emor (Leviticus 21-24 )
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GOOD MORNING! This Sunday is Mother's Day (in the USA). In truth, according to the Torah every day is Mother's Day (and Father's Day)! The Torah tells us, "Honor your father and mother." It does not tell us "Honor your father and mother ONLY if they were the perfect parents," but to honor them because they made your life possible. (God willing, I will share some thoughts on honoring your parents next week.)
My friend, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, has just published his latest book Thank You! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories and Insights (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.) I think of it as the ultimate thank you card! It is good for everyone and for every occasion. It's Mother's Day and you want to express your gratitude - you send the book. You're a mother and your son or daughter (or both!) don't call you on Mother's Day - you send the book. Hopefully it will clue them in to be grateful (although at this point, it's a little late to change them).
There is a Jewish saying, "One mother is sufficient to take care of 12 children, but 12 children are not sufficient to take care of one mother." Somewhere along the line, the parents have not been sufficiently successful in instilling qualities of gratitude and responsibility. (Recently, a man told me that he stopped visiting his mother in her later years because he couldn't bear to see her deterioration and wanted to remember her as she was. Hmmm.... obviously the person put his own feelings ahead of his mother's feeling and needs. I believe that is called selfishness).
There is a bumper sticker which reads, "Be good to your children. They choose your nursing home." If a person finds that funny it's because it has an element of truth. We should be good to our children because it is the right thing to do. However, there are things we can do to help our children develop a proper perspective on gratitude, kindness and priorities.
I would like to share with you an excerpt from Thank You! on teaching your children to be grateful:
"Be role models of gratitude yourself. Let your children frequently hear that you are grateful to the Almighty for all the good He has given you in life.
"Let your children frequently hear you say that you are grateful to your parents for what they have done for you and what they have taught you.
"Let your children frequently hear that you are grateful for friends, relatives, and neighbors who have done things for you, recently and a long time ago.
"Let your children frequently hear that you are grateful to them for the positive things that they do.
"Parents need to explicitly teach their children that gratitude is a very special trait that we need to develop and upgrade. Children need to be told to express a 'thank you' when others do things for them. However, all the lectures in the world aren't as powerful as your own gratitude serving as a role model for them.
"When someone does something for your children, besides just telling them to be polite and say 'thank you,' you can tell them, 'Gratitude is an important character trait. Every time you thank someone, you are developing more and more gratitude. You can be happy each time you tell someone that you are grateful.
"One way to help children learn gratitude is to add 'tag questions' when you make gratitude statements. For example, 'That was really nice of that person to offer to help us carry that heavy package, wasn't it?' 'Their kindness to us deserves a big 'thank you,' doesn't it?' "
Rabbi Pliskin's Thank You! has 77 short, readable chapters that will help you notice positive things you hadn't noticed before, be more aware of the good others do for you, increase your level of happiness and love for your Creator ... and will help you be a role model to teach your children how to be grateful. You'll want to sit down and write Rabbi Pliskin a note saying, "Your uplifting book changed my life. Thank you!"
For more on Honoring Parents go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
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Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Cohen; specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices and what is to be done with blemished offerings; proclaims as holidays the Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
It reminds the Jewish people to provide pure olive oil for the Menorah and designates the details of the Showbread (two stacks of 6 loaves each which were placed on the table in the portable sanctuary and later in the Temple once a week upon Shabbat).
The portion ends with the interesting story of a man who blasphemed God's name with a curse. What should be the penalty for this transgression? Curious? Lev. 24:14.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And they (the Cohanim) shall observe my charge, and they shall not bear sin for it." (Leviticus 22:9)
Rashi, the commentator, explains that this verse is a warning to the priests (Cohanim) not to eat trumah (tithes from crops given to the Cohanim) while they are in a state of tumah (spiritual impurity). Why the special warning and what can we learn from it?
Even though eating trumah is the fulfillment of a mitzvah for the priests, they must be very careful not to do so in a manner that will transform the potential good into a transgression. Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz commented that we learn from here an important principle: even when a person is involved in doing the Almighty's service, he must be very careful that no transgressions should come from it.
On the practical level, whenever you are engaged in doing a good deed or involved in a worthwhile project, be on guard that the good you do is complete and does not include any transgressions. (And remember to say 'thank you' when appropriate!).
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 13:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Chicago 7:42 Guatemala 6:03 Hong Kong 6:36
Honolulu 6:42 J'Burg 5:12 London 8:23
Los Angeles 7:28 Melbourne 5:00 Mexico City 6:48
Miami 7:39 Moscow 8:12 New York 7:45
Singapore 6:49 Toronto 7:14
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Let your attitude be gratitude!
In Loving Memory of