Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20 )
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GOOD MORNING! There was once a fundraiser for an organization specializing in providing educational programs for Jews far away from our heritage to learn the beauty and meaning of our heritage. He was having lunch in the Jerusalem Pizza Shop in Chicago with a supporter. As he was talking with the supporter about the importance of stemming assimilation through education and the effectiveness of his organization, a person in the next booth turns around and says, "Hey, I attended your school for 2 years; as a matter of fact, I became religious and observant through learning there!"
The fundraiser inwardly smiled at the serendipitous situation. He then turned to the former student and asked, "Perhaps you would like to elevate your status from that of alumnus to that of donor?"
"Oh, no. I couldn't do that," replied the young man, "Your organization isn't religious enough!"
The fundraiser replied, "That's exactly why you should give! If it wasn't for us, you wouldn't even know we weren't religious enough! You might even think that we were too religious!"
The young man then declined again to give saying, "It just wouldn't be right!"
The fundraiser then asked, "By the way, who paid for your tuition, room and board for the two years you studied in our school?"
The former student replied, "I received a full scholarship."
The fundraiser then asked, "So, how about covering the cost of your education and living expenses?"
The former student responded, "That wouldn't be right. It was your mitzvah to help me learn about my heritage!"
At this point the fundraiser, more than a bit frustrated, calmly said, "You're right. You shouldn't give to our institution."
The former student was a bit surprised. He then remarked, "I am glad that you see my point, but I am curious why you think I shouldn't give."
Retorted the fundraiser, hoping that his words would pierce the arrogance heart of the ungrateful student, "Because if you are an example of what we produce, we don't deserve your support!"
True story. The fundraiser left the alumnus stunned and thinking. You may ask, "How is it possible that the former student responded in the manner he did?" And you may think, "If I were him, I certainly would NOT have responded in that manner!"
And here is a secret of life – if you were him, you would have responded EXACTLY the same way! We tend to think "if I were him with my values and my sensitivities, I would have acted differently." The only thing is that if you had his physiology, psychology, life experiences, education, values – you would have responded exactly like he did. The proof? That's the way HE responded.
If you think this is a profound lesson in life, I will agree. If you think that this is a modern insight, I will disagree. Close to 2,000 years ago the great sage, Hillel, said, "Do not judge your fellow human being until you have reached his place" (Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 2:5).
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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 Israel 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 you are 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 Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"You shall reprove your fellow human being." (Leviticus 19:17)
What are the prerequisites?
When someone tries to criticize or reprove another person, it is obligatory for those words to come from the depths of his heart. The Sages have said that only those words that come from the heart will enter the heart of the other person. Therefore, if your words of correction are not an expression of your inner feelings of care and concern for the welfare of the other person, they will not have a positive influence on the person with whom you are speaking.
However, there is another aspect here. If your reproof does not come from a sincere caring for the other person, then you have personal reasons for that reproof and your motives are not entirely pure. If that is the case, you are guilty of slighting the honor of another person and of causing him pain with words for your personal pleasure. This is a very serious offense. (Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler; Michtav M'Eliyahu, volume 3, p. 139)
Perhaps the fundraiser (in the previous story) was operating more out of his desire to be witty and vent his frustration than to change the arrogant, ungrateful attitude of the student. Perhaps he could have chosen softer, kinder words and with more patience with hopes of making a greater impact.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 5:
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Guatemala 6:02 Hong Kong 6:32 Honolulu 6:40
J'Burg 5:16 London 8:12 Los Angeles 7:21
Melbourne 5:10 Mexico City 6:42 Miami 7:36
New York 7:38 Singapore 6:49 Toronto 8:06
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Don't I destroy my enemies
when I make them my friends?
Mazal Tov on the Marriage of