Parsha Emor

May 21st, 2016

Iyar 13th 5776


Becoming Partners with Hashem

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“For a six-day period labor may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, a calling of holiness, you shall not do any work;it is a Sabbath for Hashem in all your settled places” (Vayikra 23:3)

Chazal (Shabbat 119b) say that whoever observes Shabbat and ceases performing prohibited work at sunset on the eve of Shabbat, is considered as if he became partners with Hashem in the Creation of the world. Just as Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, likewise those who observe Shabbat follow in His ways. They work six days to earn a living, and on the seventh day they rest from their work and sanctify the day entirely for Hashem.

Rav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, raises a question in his sefer (Chanukah 56) about the following account in the sefer Shevet Yehudah. A gentile once entered the Beit Hamikdash. When he saw the logs of wood stored on the Mizbeach, he asked what their purpose was. The Jews answered him that when a korban was sacrificed, the firewood was first placed on the Mizbeach, and then the offering was placed above it. Afterwards, Hashem sent a fire from Heaven, consuming the korban to testify that it had been favorably accepted. The gentile was confounded. If Hashem sent a fire from Heaven, then what was the purpose of placing firewood on the Mizbeach beneath the offering? Obviously, Hashem did not require firewood for burning the korban. Why was the fire from Heaven insufficient?

The gentile concluded that the Torah is not true, rachmana litzlan, since he encountered a seeming contradiction in its ways. Rav Pincus asks why the gentile was perplexed. The firewood was not a contradiction to the miraculous fire that descended from Heaven to consume the korban. The miracle remained a miracle. However, the purpose of placing the firewood on the Mizbeach gave Am Yisrael the opportunity to become partners with Hashem in His miracle. Rav Pincus explains that the gentile could not comprehend the concept of becoming a partner with Hashem; it was beyond his scope. Therefore, he concluded that the custom of placing firewood indicated a contradiction in the Torah, rachmana litzlan.

Hashem wants us to have a share in Creation so that we should take responsibility for the world in which we live. It obligates us to ensure the continued existence of the world through the study of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvot (Kohelet Rabbah 7:19; Shabbat 10a). Clearly, when a person becomes a partner in a business venture, he is more dedicated in advancing its success. When Bnei Yisrael observe Shabbat, they become partners with Hashem in Creation. Consequently, they feel responsible for the maintenance of the world and seek to fortify its foundations.

Walking in Their Ways

The Siddur of Faith

Mrs. Georgette Elkayam, a family relative, told me the following story about the Ben-Muchah family from New York. On one of their visits to Eretz Yisrael, they stayed at a hotel in Haifa. One day, Mrs. Ben-Muchah discovered, much to her dismay that her very expensive camera, as well as a good pair of shoes, had disappeared. The family searched in every corner and crevice, but could not find the items anywhere. She finally turned to the hotel management and filed a report of theft.

The hotel manager, hearing of the incident, made a search of the room. He, too, could not find the things. He offered her monetary compensation and asked that she keep quiet about the whole thing, in order not to damage the hotel’s reputation.

When their visit to the Holy Land came to an end, the family returned to New York. After a short respite, they again packed their bags. This time, their destination was Morocco. They were traveling with their daughter to the hilula of the tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, in order to pray for her to find her intended match in the near future. Additionally, they asked Hashem to send some sort of sign that their prayers were accepted.

The hotel where this family was staying was close to the grave of Rabbi Chaim Pinto. As soon as the couple entered their room, what did they discover, but the lost shoes and camera! They seemed to have flown in from Israel to Morocco and were waiting patiently to greet the family.

Utterly shocked, the family realized that it was the merit of Rabbi Chaim Pinto which played a vital role in finding their lost articles.

The miracle soon made waves among all who had arrived for the hillula. As the story was being related to me, a young man by the name of Michael Marciano was standing nearby. This boy had studied at Yeshivat Ponevezh in Bnei Brak and had even served, for a time, the leader of all Jewry, Harav Shach, zt”l. When Michael heard the story, he laughed it off. He skeptically asked, “How in the world could a person lose a pair of shoes and a camera in Israel, and have them suddenly turn up in Morocco?” He refused to believe it.

Observing the goings-on, I was afraid that Michael’s lack of belief would affect the others who had put such efforts into coming to pray at the grave of the tzaddik.

I turned to the young man and rebuked him for his lack of faith. He finally requested forgiveness from myself and the tzaddik.

On Shabbat morning, during the prayers, we suddenly heard loud screams from the direction of Michael Marciano. As we hurried toward him, we found him pale and shaking. After calming down somewhat, he said that Heaven proved to him that one must never scorn the merit of tzaddikim. This was his story:

“Three years ago, I lost a very precious siddur in Eretz Yisrael. I was filled with sorrow and anguish over this loss. I could not come to terms with the fact that I would never have my dear siddur again. Just now, as I completed the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, I noticed a siddur suspiciously similar to my own.

“Out of curiosity, I opened the front cover. And what did I discover? My name, written in my own handwriting, just as I had written it in my (previously) lost siddur.

“This is the very first time that I am visiting Morocco. I never participated in the tzaddik’s hilula before, and I don’t know a soul here. There is no logical way that my siddur could have gotten here from Eretz Yisrael.”

Michael lifted his siddur in the air for all to see the great hand of Divine intervention that taught him the tremendous power of the merit of tzaddikim in changing the laws of nature.

Tuv Ta’am – Insights

In these days of Sefirat Haomer, women adopted the custom to abstain from work after Sunset until the Sefirah is counted in the Beit Hakeneset.

The reason for this is because between Pesach and Shavuot the students of Rabbi Akiva perished prior to Sunset, and they were buried after Sunset. During that period of time, everyone abstained from work. This custom continues (there are those who claim that it is incumbent upon the men as well) whereby one abstains from work during the period between Sunset until after Dusk.

Guard Your Tongue

The post Seudah Shlishit crowd

A wise man once advised his friends never to linger on Shabbat during the summer following the Seudah Shlishit around the Beit Hakeneset and Beit Hamidrash to chat with an acquaintance. This is because one friend will soon be followed by another and two will be followed by three and three will turn into four, five, six, until in the end there will be a large crowd. Each one will want to tell about their business encounters during the past week, and it is impossible to avoid slipping into gossip and slander. All this is caused by the first person who initiated the gathering. A wise person foresees the future.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “But the Kohanim, the Leviim, descendants of Tzadok” (Yechezkiel 44)

The connection to the parashah: In the haftarah the laws of kedushat kohanim are mentioned, as delineated by Yechezkiel Hanavi, which coincides with the parashah that describes the conduct of kedushah incumbent upon the descendants of Aharon Hacohen.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“Hashem said to Moshe: Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and you shall say to them: to a [dead] person he shall not become impure among his people”                                               (Vayikra 21:1)

The Torah repeats the word “say,” by adding “and you shall say to them.” The implication of this injunction would have been understood  without these words. Why does the Torah use double language? This is to teach the Kohanim and all of Bnei Yisrael an important lesson of how cautious we should be in avoiding all types of tumah, and especially defilement caused by the Yetzer Hara.

We can learn from this that it is insufficient to review the lessons of the Torah only once, but we must continuously repeat its words until they become an essential part of us. Each additional review further protects a person from the tumah of the Yetzer Hara, as it says, “To a [dead] person he shall not become impure among his people.” The repetition of the words, “say” and “you shall say” teaches us that a person must strive to constantly progress and not remain static. This is what is implied by the words of Rashi, (ibid.), “To enjoin adults with regard to minors.” By constantly reviewing his studies, a person will enhance his portion in the World to Come.

In the introduction to Pirkei Avot (Sanhedrin 90a) it says, “All Israel has a share in the World to Come, as it is said: ‘And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever.’” In order to observe mitzvot with dedication and joy one must battle with his Yetzer Hara, who tries in every way to distract a person from spiritual gains. However, when a person succeeds in overcoming his Yetzer Hara, he acquires the beautiful mitzvot as his booty, which ultimately make him worthy of a portion in the World to Come.

All of Yisrael potentially have a portion in the World to Come. This is because they add their own safeguards and stringencies to enhance their mitzvah observance, and thereby bring pleasure to Hashem. Hashem calls together all of the Heavenly Hosts to observe the admirable deeds of His people. When the angels witness the worthiness of Klal Yisrael, they proclaim before Hashem, “And who is like Your people, like Israel, a unique nation on earth.”

Words of Wisdom

Respecting the Kohen

“The Kohen who is exalted above his brethren” (Vayikra 21:10)

Why was he called “Kohen Gadol”?

Because he is greater than the others in five ways: in appearance, in strength, in wealth, in wisdom, and in age.

In appearance, since he should look more handsome than his brethren. In strength, since he should possess great strength. For example, when Aharon picked up and waved the Leviim, he waved 22,000 Leviim in one day.

How did he wave them? He waved them back and forth, up and down. Thus, he possessed great strength.

In wealth, how do we know that if he was not wealthy, his fellow kohanim would make him wealthy? There is a story about Pinchas Hasatat, who was appointed to be the Kohen Gadol. His fellow kohanim once saw him hewing stone. They proceeded to fill the hollowed stone with dinars of gold.

From where do we learn that if he does not have money his brethren make him wealthy? It states, “The Kohen was exalted above his brethren.” 

(Midrash Tanchuma)

Sacrifices of Animals that are Easily Accessible

“When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born” (Vayikra 22:27)

Rabbi Berachia bar Simon said: Hashem said: I gave you ten kosher animals; three are in your possession and seven are not in your possession.

The three that are in your possession are: an ox, sheep, and goat.

The seven that are not in your possession are: the hart, the deer, the yachmur, etc, Hashem did not trouble you to climb up mountains and toil in forests to bring a sacrifice from animals that are not in your possession, only those that are in your possession which you raise on your farms. This is as stated “ox or a sheep or a goat”.

(Yalkut Shimoni)

Sacrifices in the Merit of Our Forefathers

“When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born” (Vayikra 22:27)

The ox is in the merit of Avraham, as it says, “Then Avraham ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it.”

The sheep is in the merit of Yitzchak, as it says, “And Abraham raised his eyes and saw – behold a ram! – afterwards, caught in the thicket by its horns; so Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as an offering instead of his son.”

The goat is in the merit of Yakov, as it says, “Go now to the flock and fetch me from there two good young kids of the goats.” What is meant by the word “good”? Rabbi Berachia in the name of Rabbi Hilbo says that they are good for you because through them you will receive the blessings, and they are good for your descendants since through them [the goats] they receive atonement on Yom Kippur, as it says, “For on this day He shall provide atonement for you.” (Midrash Tanchuma)


Chapters in Child-Raising

As we discussed previously, the essence of the Jewish mother to serve as a protective wall is achieved by creating within the walls of her home an inner world full of love and affection. The children huddle under the wings of their mother, and their confidence in her love and devotion to them create a fortress which cuts them off from all foreign influences.

We also mentioned that the child continues to lean on his mother at every stage in a different way. Undoubtedly, the child and adolescent will be nourished by the stability and security that his home affords him. Only in this way they will feel tied to their home, and then they will be secure in the fortress that their mother provides. Consequently, they will withstand the winds and adverse influences around them.

In fact, even after the child grows up, he draws strength from the image of his mother standing by his side. She endows him with ambition and incentive through her belief in him and through her support of all his endeavors.

How long does this last? Until the day in which he fulfills the pasuk: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife” (Bereishit 2:24). Until then, his mother’s home should be a stronghold and a refuge from harmful spirits.  

We must be aware that the streets and clubs are not safe for the soul of the child, rather they present temptations that beckon to him, and most of these temptations are extremely harmful. Therefore, it is the duty of the mother to counter the appeal of the streets through the irresistible appeal of the warm home.

Supervision over friends is not just another factor in the child’s education, but it is the foundation and root of any success. As long as a child has improper friends, he will not succeed – even if he wished – to grasp the words of the Torah taught to him. Just as before sowing, one must uproot the wild weeds, so too one must distance his child from corrupt friends before he enters the Beit Midrash.

Thus, the mother should embrace her children with love, respect and pleasure, until the home turns into a haven for the children. Only in this way will the mother be able to protect them as they develop. She should discreetly and gently distance them from all harmful influences. With tactful words, through the vapor of her mouth, she can create a Torah home, one which will influence precious souls through all the stages of their life for generations to come. By imparting love of Torah from infancy, her progeny will grow up to observe mitzvot with the proper awe.

This is true also at the time when the mother wants her son to go to the Beit Midrash. And it is especially so when the child wishes to relax and seeks the warmth of his home, as on Shabbat, during vacations, and during Bein Hazmanim.

In any event, when the child crosses over the threshold of his home, he should leave with confidence, knowing that he has a haven where his parents and family members love him and look forward to his return. He should be sure that he will be welcomed upon his arrival with love and respect. In this way, he will be protected by the fortifications of his home even when he is in the streets.

Men of Faith

R’ Refael Amar, a disciple of Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, shlita, relates that once he traveled to Morocco with his business partner. He was a pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces and had begun to take an interest in Judaism. The two went to Morocco to pray at the grave of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Hakatan.

When they arrived at the cemetery, an Arab caretaker showed them to the tzaddik’s grave and handed them sifrei Tehillim.

The pilot noticed that the caretaker was holding something in his hand, and he asked him what it was. The Arab told him that he had a picture of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto, which he had once received from a tzaddik who was Rabbi Chaim’s grandson.

The pilot, who was not accustomed to such reverence, told R’ Refael Amar in Hebrew, so that the Arab would not understand him, “Let’s buy the picture from the Arab. We will offer him some money, and maybe he will agree to sell it.”

The pilot offered the Arab a sum of money, but the Arab caretaker was not prepared to sell the picture under any circumstances. The pilot raised the price to one thousand dollars, but the Arab still refused. The pilot offered to buy it for a sum of over four thousand dollars, and even for this exorbitant sum (an amount of money with which one could buy a house in Morocco) the Arab was not prepared to negotiate at all.

The pilot was very moved and told R’ Refael Amar, “See how much faith the Arab has in the tzaddik. His faith is deeply ingrained in his very being. Although the picture in his hand is already old and torn, he will not part from it for all the money in the world. This is because he witnessed wondrous miracles wrought by the tzaddik. For him, the picture is his whole life. And if a non-Jewish Arab has such faith in the tzaddik, how much more so should we.”

When Moreinu v’Rabbeinu heard this account, he commented, “It is important to note that faith without Torah is not complete, since they are interconnected. For this Shlomo Hamelech prayed to Hashem (Melachim I 8:41) that when a non-Jew will pray to Him, He would immediately accept his prayer. However when a Jew prays, He should not accept his prayer immediately. Why?

For a Jew, a single prayer is not sufficient to bring miraculous salvation. Simple faith is not enough, since a Jew is also required to be a bastion of Torah and observe the mitzvot with fervor. This is not so regarding non-Jews, since they have no connection to Torah. Therefore, if a gentile exhibits faith, Hashem suffices with his prayers and answers him immediately.

A Jew must bask in the light of Torah, engaging in mitzvot and good deeds. Only then will Hashem perform miraculous wonders for him.


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