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The Lamplighter Weekly

Volume 21 Issue 11
 March 17-23, 2019  10-16 Adar II 5779
Torah Reading: Tzav
 Candle Lighting: 7:21 PM
Shabbos Ends: 8:16 PM
 

Parsha Synopsis · A Word From the Rabbi
Essay ·
Thoughts That Count
Once Upon A Chassid · Tid Bits · Happenings · Notes From Israel

 

Parsha Synopsis

Tzav
Leviticus: 6:1-8:36

G‑d instructs Moses to  command Aaron and his sons regarding their duties and rights as kohanim (“priests”) who offer the  korbanot (animal and meal offerings) in the Sanctuary.

The  fire on the altar must be kept burning at all times. In it are burned the wholly consumed ascending offering; veins of  fatfrom the peace, sin and guilt offerings; and the “ handful” separated from the  meal offering.

The kohanim eat the meat of the sin and guilt offerings, and the remainder of the meal offering. The peace offering is eaten by the one who brought it, except for specified portions given to the kohen. The holy meat of the offerings must be eaten by ritually pure  persons, in their designated holy  place and within their specified  time.

Aaron and his sons remain within the Sanctuary compound for  seven days, during which Moses  initiates them into the priesthood.

A Word From the Rabbi

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COMMITMENT: THE LONGEST FOUR LETTER WORD
Some Things Must Not Change

Imagine what life would be like if we couldn’t depend on the sun to rise in the morning?

A prevalent cultural misnomer is that the “New” and “Different” is intrinsically better than the old and routine. This mindset affects all aspects of human life, from relationships to religious observance and even where we choose to live.

Unwilling to pay the price of endurance and commitment, people with this mindset are addicted to change. They cling to the tantalizing allure of the unknown like addicts to drugs. The sobering truth of the predictable has them running like prey from a perusing predator. Most of all they despise commitment like the Black Death of the bubonic plague. Running is sadly their only way of dealing with realty.

At the core of this pervasive syndrome that breeds inertia, is a gullible and distorted sense of reality – the naive belief that there is a formula for an existence that is simple, effortless and forever blissful. The result of this flawed philosophy is a shallow and superficial existence; one that inevitably yields a very low dividend. Relationships, for example, are shallow if not flaky and, as a result, buckle under the slightest degree of stress.

In order to discharge their religious obligation, or squash their “Religious guilt,” they are easily seduced by smorgasbord religion and a garden variety of simulations, each of which promises the intrinsic security and rewards that religion has to offer without any of its inherent commitments. When one replication proves hollow and unfulfilling, they quickly move to the next, hoping that it will prove more rewarding than the one before.

The same mindset is used with regards to community and leisure pursuits. Life, in the end, amounts to a never ending cycle of instability and change. Worst of all is the fact that such people live life on the periphery, they dabble and skim but are not part of anything. They live life in as spectators in the bleachers, but never quite get into the game.  

While the new is fresh and exciting and clearly has its place, it must not replace the old and routine – that which is consistent, dependable and has withstood the test of time. To dismiss the importance of the routine and dependable is to dismiss some of the most authentic and sustaining realities of life upon which we depend on for survival.

Imagine what life would be like if we couldn’t depend on the sun because it decides that the routine is boring and chooses not to rise one morning, or if the earth gets tired of its same duties and no longer wishes to bear fruit. We would obviously not survive. If we count on the dependability of the Almighty and his creation in order to survive, shouldn’t He be able to count on us? If our lives depend on the commitment of others, G‑d as well as humans, shouldn’t our commitment be dependent upon?    

This week’s Torah portion teaches the importance of dependability and routine. In the beginning of the Parsha of Tzav, we are commanded: "The fire on the Altar shall remain burning on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the priest shall burn wood upon it every morning" (Leviticus 6:5).

Instead of heading for the quick fix, we ought to ask ourselves: “How dependable am I as a father? How dependable am I as a husband or friend? How dependable am I as a person. What would the world be like without dependability?

May we take to heart the lesson of our Parsha and strengthen our commitment to G‑d and to humanity, in both the old and the new, in doing so we will enrich our live and prepare the world for the coming of the righteous Moshiach BBA. 

Gut Shabbos!

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Rabbi Kahanov is the founder/director of Chabad in Northeast FL, consisting of 6 Chabad Centers
He is also the author of "What Chabad Really Believes"
If you like this, you might be interested in purchasing his book click here for more information 

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Thank You Kindly

Seven years old, and yet to speak. His parents would have been more worried if the doctors hadn’t reassured them that their child seemed neurologically sound, and that he fitted within all the expected parameters of normal development.

One day, at breakfast, he suddenly turned to his mother and complained, “Mom, this porridge is cold and the toast is burnt!”

Shocked, his mother responded, “If you can talk, why have you said nothing till now?”

“Till now, everything has been fine.”

How many act like the little chutzpanyak in the above story; never a word of gratitude until everything goes pear-shaped, and then, don’t we just kvetch and moan. It’s almost as if we expect and demand that the good times keep rolling without any effort on our part, while we reserve the right to blame everyone else when the music stops.

Contrast this surly and unappreciative attitude with the other extreme. It’s uncomfortable to receive an overly enthusiastic reaction for a minor favor. Imagine if you were to hand a poor man a ten-cent coin, and he were to launch into a full-blown production, following you down the street on his hands and knees, tears of gratitude streaming down his cheeks. Even the most obtuse among us would begin to suspect that the beggar was putting on a show.

Good manners are a sign of breeding. And, if we wish our praise to be accepted, it is best to express gratitude in moderation. When invited to dinner, we might bring a bottle of wine or another token gift, It is considered polite to thank the hostess when she serves each course, and to express our appreciation when we’ve finished.

We read this week about the korban todah, the thanksgiving offering which was brought to the Temple by any Jew wishing to express gratitude to G‑d for His munificence and kindness. One might have thought that every Jew would be expected to bring this donation constantly. Everyone benefits from G‑d’s magnificent creation, and it is only polite to thank Him.

In truth, however, while we express gratitude to G‑d in our daily prayers and blessings, this sacrifice would be offered only on four special occasions: after 1) surviving a trip at sea, 2) traveling through a desert, 3) being released from jail or 4) recovering from serious illness.

Surviving these circumstances is considered miraculous intervention by G‑d, and deserving of an extra measure of gratitude and appreciation.

If you think about it, these miraculous events mirror the miracles G‑d performed as we left Egypt at the dawn of our formation as a nation. 1) G‑d split the sea, 2) helped us across the desert, and 3) looked out for our spiritual and 4) physical welfare.

We have never forgotten, and we constantly invoke the Exodus in our national narrative. When we gather in homes and halls all over the world this Passover to retell the story of our liberation, don’t just come bearing gifts of wine and matzah. Allow yourself to dream, hope, pray and praise our G‑d and Creator, who released us from the prison that was Egypt, and who continues to be there for us as we seek to break through the iron bars imprisoning our minds and hearts.

 

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum is spiritual leader of Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation and co-director of L’Chaim Chabad in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.

Thoughts That Count
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This is the law of the burnt offering (Torat ha'ola), it is the burnt offering that shall burn upon the fire (mokda) (Lev. 6:2)

The great Chasidic masters used to say: When does a person's Torah study ascend on High? (The word "ola," burnt offering, comes from the Hebrew root meaning to ascend.) When it "burns upon the fire" - when the Torah is studied with a fiery enthusiasm. However, the Hebrew letter "mem" of the word "mokda," fire, is written smaller than the other letters. This teaches that the main part of the "flame" should remain within, and not draw attention to itself. (Otzar Chaim)

And he shall lift up the ashes left from the burnt-offering which the fire consumed on the altar (Lev. 6:3)

A person wishing to witness a fiery, all-consuming service of G‑d need not search among the elite; let him better look among the simple Jews who serve G‑d with all their heart, for there he will find a true, holy fire. (The Magid of Mezeritch)

And he shall take off his garments, and put on other garments (Lev. 6:4)

Comments Rashi: "A person should not wear the same clothes while cooking for his master that he wears to pour his wine." The High Priest was obligated to change his clothes before performing his service in Holy Temple; the garments he wore while cleaning the altar were inappropriate for the exalted task. Similarly, it is a mitzva (commandment) to change one's clothing in honor of the holy Sabbath. (Maharsha, on Tractate Shabbat)

Once Upon A Chassid

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Salt-Free Water

And the remainder of the offering shall be eaten by Aaron and his sons… in a holy place… I have given it to them as their portion of my fire-offerings; it is holy… (6:9-10)

Today, a person's table is comparable to the altar in the Holy Temple. (The Talmud, Chagigah 27b)

Before Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov went public with his teachings and established the chassidic movement, he served as a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in a small village in the Ukraine. After he left his post, the village hired another shochet to slaughter their cattle and fowl.

One day, a villager sent his one of his non-Jewish laborers with a chicken to the shochet. But the messenger returned with the bird still very squawkingly alive. "This new fellow you got," he explained, "is no good."

"Why?" asked the villager.

"Oh no," said the peasant "From me he'll get no chickens to slaughter. He stands there with a pitcher, and uses ordinary water from the well to sharpen his knife! Yisrolik would sharpen the knife with his tears…"


 

Tid Bits
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The Origins of the Gragger: Why We Boo Haman
tid bit
There is an ancient and widespread custom that when the name of Haman is mentioned during the Megillah reading on Purim, the congregation (especially the children) spin graggers (ratchets), bang, shout, stamp their feet and generally make a ruckus.

This custom is recorded in the writings of the Rabbi David Abudraham (14th century, Spain), who writes that there had been an earlier custom for children to draw a picture or write the name of Haman on wood or stones and then bang them together to “erase” Haman’s representation. This is in line with the verse, “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” since Haman was a descendant of Amalek. This custom, he writes, later evolved into the practice of banging and making noise when the name of Haman is read. Today, this is often accomplished by spinning graggers.

Some have discouraged this custom, but both Rabbi Yosef Caro and Rabbi MosesIsserles reference it and add that “one should not nullify any custom or belittle it” as there is meaning behind the custom.

Although the basic reason for making noise stems from blotting out the name of Haman, there are additional meanings behind the custom as well:

Reluctant to Mention Haman in the First Place

Rabbi Moses Sofer (Chatam Sofer, 1762–1839, Central Europe) explains that we are commanded in the Torah to obliterate any remembrance of the nation of Amalek. Yet, there is no bigger “remembrance” of the nation of Amalek than when we read about Haman in the Megillah. We therefore raise a ruckus—after hearing Haman’s name—to show that we don’t want to really hear his name, but are doing so only because it is a mitzvah to listen to the entire Book of Esther, including the parts where Haman is mentioned. (In order to fulfill one’s obligation, one must hear every word, so don’t start your noisemaking until the reader finishes saying the name Haman, and stop as soon as the reader or the rabbi signals it is time to stop.)

Flogging the Guilty

Rabbi Mordechai Yaffeh (Levush, 1530–1612) notes that the final letters of the words והיה אם בן הכות הרשע, “if the [guilty one] is to be beaten”, spell out the name Haman (המן). Thus, we bang when we hear the name Haman.

Obliterating Haman

After the Jews fought the Amalekites in the desert, G‑d said to Moses, “Inscribe this [as] a memorial in the book, and recite it into Joshua's ears, that I will utterly blot out (ומחה אמחה) the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens.” The Midrash expounds that “I will utterly blot out” means that G‑d will erase the remnant of Amalek even from wood and stone. Thus, the custom evolved to write (and subsequently erase) the name of Haman on wood or stone.

The words “I will utterly blot out” (ומחה אמחה) also have the same numeric value as זה המן, “this is Haman.” Furthermore, Rabbi Pinchas of Koreitz (18th century) explains that the word מחה is sometimes translated as “hit” or “bang.”

Haman’s Punishment

If Haman’s plans were realized, G‑d forbid, then we ourselves would not exist. In a sense, he is therefore a threat to every generation of Jews and must be combatted all over again. Rabbi Chaim Palagi (1788–1868, Turkey) explains that when we bang during the reading of Haman’s name, then in a spiritual sense, Haman is beaten once again in Purgatory.

When to Bang

Many have the custom to bang and/or make noise every single time the name of Haman is mentioned in the Megillah. Others only bang when there is some honorific attached to Haman’s name (this is the Chabad custom), or only when the context discusses his downfall.

Stamping vs. Banging

Some are particular to make noise by stamping their feet. Amalek is compared to the “heel,” the lowest of the low. During the previous exiles, we rectified all the other parts of our collective spiritual “body,” so all that is left to refine is the heel. Since the heel is less sensitive to sensation than other body parts, it is comparable to Amalek, who “cools off” a person’s inspiration. Stamping the foot serves to weaken and topple this internal Amalek.

The mystics explain that the spiritual war with Amalek continues throughout the generations, especially in the waning days of the present exile. When we fulfill the mitzvah of obliterating the spiritual Amalek, the world comes that much closer to the time when G‑dliness will be manifest to all with the coming of Moshiach. May it be speedily in our days!

Notes From Israel

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Happenings

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