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B"H

Acharei-Kedoshim: Seeing Through Hashem’s Eyes
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portions of Acharei and Kedoshim. In the portion of Acharei the Yom Kippur sacrifice is discussed at length, as is the Jewish moral code. An interesting can be learned from the Yom Kippur service. The Kohen Gadol (high priest) performed every aspect of the Yom Kippur offering. Many aspects were performed throughout the Temple, and certain aspects were performed in the holy of holies. Each time he entered the holy of holies, he had to go to the Mikveh, put on special garments, and make other preparations. The holiest service of the day was when he offered the incense. Later in the day, he reentered the holy of holies solely to remove the incense burner. When he reentered, he made all of the same preparations as when he burnt the incense. This teaches us that any Mitzvah that we do for G-d, however insignificant it may seem to us, is a complete and total service in His eyes and warrants full respect.

In the portion of Kedoshim we are commanded to be a holy people, both in our relationship with Hashem and in our deeds towards our fellow man. The Ramban explains that every time we refrain from selfish pleasures and dedicate our energy to Hashem, we fulfill the commandment to be holy. Similarly, when we train our emotions, replacing selfishness, jealousy and anger with caring, compassion and patience we practice being holy. This self subjugation brings a tremendous divine light into the world.

In the portion of Kedoshim we find a very special Mitzvah, loving our fellow Jew as ourselves. Rabbi Akiva said that this Mitzvah is the great principal of the Torah, and Hillel said that the entire Torah is an explanation of this Mitzvah. Seemingly, this Mitzvah is very difficult to understand. How can Hashem command me to have an emotion? Further, why is the entire Torah connected to this Mitzvah?

Our emotions are effected by our thoughts. Hillel, in expressing this Mitzvah, said “Don’t treat others in a manner which you hate. The Tzemach Tzedek (the third Lubavitcher Rebbe) explained Hillel’s words. We all resent when people dwell on our faults. Although we make mistakes, we want others to concentrate on the positive things that we have accomplished, not the negative. Hillel teaches us to treat others the same way. Rather than thinking about their faults, ignore their faults and think about the good that they have done. Suddenly, it becomes much easier to stop hating and start loving.

In order to love someone as ourselves, we must come to a higher awareness as to who we are. The entire Jewish people are one entity working to perfect the world through Torah and Mitzvot and prepare the world for Moshiach’s coming. This awareness is the foundation of the entire Torah. Although some of us are less active in our mission, we are all parts of one body. As such, love for a fellow Jew is actually love for ourselves.

The Temple was destroyed because of wanton hatred and will be rebuilt because of Ahavat Yisrael. Let’s each do something special for Jewish unity and may we speedily see the coming of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Biggs

B"H

Pesach Sheini

There is Always an Opportunity

This Sunday is Pesach Sheini, the second Pesach. We do not say Tachanun on Pesach Sheini. It is customary to eat a piece of Matzah. After the Jewish people built the Tabernacle in the desert, Hashem commanded them to bring the Pesach sacrifice. A group of Jews came to Moshe with a complaint. “We are impure, and therefore we cannot bring the Pesach offering. Why should we be excluded from offering Hashem’s sacrifice in the appropriate time?” Moshe responded that he would ask Hashem. Hashem responded that if someone was impure of far away at the time of Pesach, a month later they could bring the Passover sacrifice and it was to be eaten with Matzah and bitter herbs.

This story has a powerful lesson. The Gemarra explains that the people who were impure had a good reason. They were busy transporting Yosef’s bones to Israel. They could have easily sat out this Pesach and felt that they had done their job. When an opportunity for a Mitzvah arises, even when we have a just reason not to participate, it should bother us that we can’t participate. A Mitzvah is a privilege and not a burden, and as such we should ask “Why should we be excluded?” Similarly, if our level in Torah learning is limited due to our background or faculties, we should not be satisfied to stay on our plane. We must ask of Hashem “Why should we be excluded?” Rabbi Akiva began studying at the age of forty and became the greatest sage of Israel!

Similarly, when others are at a height in service of Hashem which is much higher than our own, be it in prayer, fulfilling of Mitzvot, or helping others, we should ask ourselves and Hashem “Why should we be excluded?” If we ask with full sincerity, Hashem will create an opportunity for us to reach any level.

When the Torah describes the Mitzvah of Pesach Sheini, it says that someone who is on a distant path “Lachem (of yours)” (and therefore is not in Yerushalayim to offer the Pesach) he can bring a Pesach Sheini. The Gemarra explains that the word Lachem refers to someone who deliberately skipped the Pesach. Deliberately skipping the Pesach sacrifice is a serious sin, one of the only two for which the soul receives Karet. (The other is circumcision). Nevertheless, when the person does Teshuvah and seeks to make up his lost opportunity, Hashem creates for him a new opportunity to return.

The same applies to our wish for the coming of Moshiach. Other generations witnessed the glory of Hashem’s revelation and the miracles in the Temple. They were able to fulfill all of the Mitzvot, not just a small percent. Soon the world will taste the bliss of universal harmony with the coming of Moshiach. We must cry out to Hashem “Why should we be excluded!” Just as He answered then, He will surely answer us now!!

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to the Shluchim in Nepal in recognition of the tremendous Hatzalat Nefashot and Kiddush Hashem they are performing.

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