PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 63
24 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
39 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 124
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1614
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6106
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yechezkel / Ezekiel 44:15 - 31
This week we study Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
In our last episode Hashem called the Bnei
Yisroel a "Holy Nation."
As our Parsha opens, Hashem zooms in on the
"Holy Shevet "(Tribe) in the Holy nation, Shevet
In Mitzrayim, and again in the desert, the Leviyim
have a history of being more dedicated to Hashem than
the rest of the nation.
Of all the Leviyim,
Aharon stands out as the holiest man in the Shevet. Therefore
Hashem chooses to make Aharon the Kohain Gadol.
His descendants will be the Kohanim, the priests of the
Jewish nation, dedicated to Avodah (service) of Karbanot
(sacrifices) in the Mishkon and later the Bait
Hamikdash (Holy Temple). The Leviyim will provide
other services to the Bait Hamikdash as well.
| We start off with
a few details about what a Kohain may or may not do...
Firstly, a Kohain
is not allowed to touch a dead body - not even stay under the
same roof with a dead body. A Kohain also can't enter
a cemetery unless he's burying a close relative. The Torah
A Kohain Gadol cannot
even bury these seven relatives.
- unmarried sister
These laws apply to Kohanim
today as well. (Men and boys, but not women and girls).
Any Kohain, even a
Kohain Gadol, must bury a Mait Mitzvah. A Mait
Mitzvah is a dead body that lies on a lone road. A Kohain
who comes across a dead body cries out, "I've found a Jew
who needs to be buried. Whoever hears my voice please come to
bury him!" If no one answers his call, the Kohain
must bury the body.
If a Kohain becomes
Tamay (impure), - by touching a dead body, as an example,
- he cannot serve in the Mishkon until he is
purified with water that's mixed with ashes from a Parah Adumah
(red heifer; - we'll get to that during another episode).
As a holy person,
a Kohain takes on more stringent rules when it comes to
choosing a wife. One rule is that he can't marry a divorced woman.
A Kohain Gadol can't marry a divorced woman or a widow.
A son born from such a forbidden marriage is called a challal
and may not do the Avodah because he is not a Kohain.
These laws apply to Kohanim today as well.
The Torah commands that a Kohain who serves
in the Mishkon or the Bait Hamikdash, must be
"perfect." This means that if a Kohain has
any physical defect, such as, if he's blind or has a broken bone,
he can't perform the Avodah. There are other jobs that
these Kohanim can do, however, like checking firewood
All Kohanim, perfect or not, that serve in the Bait
Hamikdash, can eat Terumah. That's the portion of
grains given to the Kohanim by all the Jewish farmers.
When a farmer harvests his grains he puts aside a portion called
Terumah. Any Kohain who is pure, (not Tamay),
together with his family, can eat the Terumah. They also
eat from korbanot and share the gifts given to Kohanim.
If you're not a Kohain, you may not eat Terumah
under penalty of death.
| Now that we've discussed
"human conditions," here are a few conditions for animals
used for Korbanot.
"Moom" means "imperfect," or an
animal with a defect. A korban is a gift to Hashem.
Just as we would want to give an undamaged gift to a friend, we
want our gift to Hashem to be perfect. There are more
than 50 ways to make an animal "moom," including
a blind eye, a cut on its tongue, and a tail too short. An animal
is acceptable as a korban only after it is eight days
The mitzvah of bringing "undamaged" animals
(the best) for korbanot also applies to the flour, wine,
incense and anything brought for a korban. They must
be the best of its kind.
| The Torah
teaches us that we shouldn't slaughter a mother animal and its child
on the same day.
| As Jews we represent
our people, the Torah and Hashem. People look at
us to see the way Hashem wants people to act. If, chas
v'sholom, we do an avairah (sin) or act silly in front
of others, people get the impression that this is what happens when
a person follows in the ways of Hashem. This is embarrassing
to Hashem and disgraces Hashem's good name.
In our last episode (Parshat Kedoshim),
we discussed that one must live by Hashem's mitzvot.
So if someone holds a gun to your head and says, "wear Shatnez
or I'll blow your brains out," you MUST do the avairah.
But there are three mitzvot you must take the bullet
The reason is that it is a great disgrace to Hashem -
a Chilul Hashem - for a Jew to commit these avairot.
When a Jew gives up his life for these three mitzvot he
makes a great Kiddush Hashem - he brings honor to Hashem's
name - and he is greatly rewarded in the World to come.
- avoda zara (idol worship),
- murder, and
- forbidden marriage
| You've heard of
Shabbat and the 39 melachot you can't do on that
day. Now Hashem introduces "Yom Tov."
It's sort of like a Shabbat but there are two melachot
that don't apply here:
You're allowed to cook and you're allowed to carry.
There are five "Yomim Tovim," (holidays)
- Rosh Hashana
- Yom Kippur.
The first three, Pesach, Shavuot
and Sukkot are called the "Shalosh Regalim."
That's because when these Yomim Tovim came around, people
headed up to Yerushalayim to the Bait Hamikdash
to offer korbanot.
- also called Chag Hamatzot (holiday of matzot), is the
Yom Tov where Hashem commands us to remember
the exodus from Mitzrayim.
In the times of
the Bait Hamikdash the entire nation traveled from all
over Eretz Yisroel to celebrate the Yom Tov
of freedom. On erev Pesach each family brought a lamb
or goat to be offered in the Bait Hamikdash. This is
called the Korban Pesach. Once the animal was slaughtered,
it was roasted and eaten that evening with Maror (bitter
herbs) and Matzoh (unleavened bread).
Today we celebrate
Pesach with a Seder. We read the Hagadah
and perform the mitzvah of remembering Yetziat Mitzrayim
(the exodus from Egypt). On Pesach we are not allowed to
eat chometz (leavened bread).
For more details about Pesach, Click
here to see our Pesach pages.
In Eretz Yisrael there are seven days to this Yom
Tov. On the first and seventh days we don't do any melachot.
The five days in between are called "Chol Hamoed."
They are sort of like a weekday when it comes to melachot,
but they are holy and part of the Yom Tov.
In the Bait Hamikdash, the Kohanim would offer
a mussaf service on all days of Pesach.
Outside of Eretz Yisrael we celebrate eight days of
Pesach - two days at the beginning and two at the end
where we don't do melachot and four days in between of
| On the second day
of Pesach (the 16th of Nisan) the Korban "Omer"
On the second night of Pesach (the first night of Chol
Hamoed in Israel) in a field outside Yerushalayim,
harvesters cut enough bundles (three sa'a - about 16
lbs.) of barley to make 5 pounds of fine flour.
Back in the Bait Hamikdash, the Kohanim thresh
the stalks till the kernels come tumbling down. Next the kernels
are roasted over a fire and ground into flour. The flour is sifted
until only the finest flour remains.
It takes about five pounds - an Omer - of flour mixed
with oil and a handful of levona spice to make a Korban
Omer. The mixture is placed in a pan. The pan is waved in
all directions. Then a handful of the mixture is burned on the
Mizbayach (Altar) and the rest is given out for the Kohanim
| Pesach starts
the grain harvesting season. Hashem commands that the barley
cannot be harvested until the Korban Omer is brought.
Korban Omer is also a starting point in the countdown to
Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah). For 49
days we count "the Omer" starting with "Hayom
Yom Eh-chud L'omer" - ("Today is one day of the omer
counting") and ending with "Hayom Tish-ah V'Arba-imYom
She-heim Shivah Sha-vu-ot L'omer" - ("Today is forty
nine days which is seven weeks of the omer counting.")
These 49 days represent the 49 days of preparation from Yetziat
Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt) to Matan Torah on the
seventh day of Sivan.
For more details about Sefirat Ha'Omer, click here.
commands the Jews that on the fiftieth day of counting the Omer
we must celebrate the Yom Tov of Shavuot.
Like the other Regalim, we don't do melacha
In the Bait Hamikdash the Kohanim would offer
the Shtay Halechem (two loaves) baked from the first
wheat of the new harvest.
Hashem promises that as a reward for the wheat offering
He will bless the fruit of your fields.
Unlike other dough offerings, the Shtay Lechem offering
is allowed to rise.
This offering is not burnt on the Mizbayach (Altar),
it is shared by all the Kohanim.
Even though the Yom Tov of Shavuot commemorates
the giving of the Torah, nowhere in the Torah
is this mentioned. This teaches us that we must constantly receive
the Torah in our hearts.
For more details about Shavuot,
Click here to see our Shavuot pages.
| Rosh Hashana
is the Jewish New Year. The Torah commands us to make the
first of Tishrei a Yom Tov (holiday), to blow
shofar (ram's horn) and declare that Hashem is the King.
(To HEAR the Shofar sound, CLICK on the name of
a 3 second sustained note;
three 1-second notes rising in tone,
a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of
about 3 seconds;
On Rosh Hashana, Hashem judges the Jewish
people and the nations of the world.
For two days the Book of Judgment hangs over our heads and we
celebrate this Yom Tov with trembling seriousness and
For more details about Rosh Hashana, Click
here to see our Rosh Hashana pages.
| Yom Kippur
is different from the other Yomim Tovim mentioned in this
Parsha. On the tenth of Tishrei, Hashem
commands us not to eat or drink or do any melachot.
Yom Kippur is a last ditch effort for Jews to do Teshuvah
before the book of life is closed.
It was on Yom Kippur that Hashem accepted
the prayers of Moshe and forgave the Jewish people for the sin
of the Eigel Hazahav (golden calf). Yom Kippur
is a day of forgiveness for all generations.
It was also on Yom Kippur that Hashem gave
Moshe the second set of Luchot (tablets).
Yom Kippur is filled with ritual performed by the Kohain
Gadol in the Bait Hamikdash. This Avodah
(ritual) is described in Parshat Acharei
For more details about Yom Kippur, Click
here to see our Yom Kippur pages.
is the third of the Regalim. On the 15th of Tishrei
the Bnei Yisrael are commanded to leave their homes and
celebrate this Yom Tov by living in temporary dwellings
On Sukkot it is a mitzvah to pick up the four
The Lulav, Hadassim and Aravot are
- Etrog (citron)
- Lulav (palm branch)
- Hadassim (myrtles)
- Aravot (willows)
This Yom Tov is a happy Yom Tov. It reminds
us that Hashem is our protector.
For more details about Sukkot, Click
here to see our Sukkot pages.
| Following the seven
days of Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret is one last day
to say goodbye to Yom Tov. In Israel, the Yom Tov
of Simchat Torah is celebrated on the same day. Outside
of Eretz Yisrael, we add a ninth day to this Yom Tov
and celebrate Simchat Torah on that day.
Click here to see more information on
| The Parsha
ends with the story of the Egyptian's son who cursed Hashem.
In Mitzrayim, his Egyptian father had forced Shlomit
Bat (daughter of) Divri to marry him. Moshe killed
his father when he saw him beat a Jewish slave.
The son had a fight with another Jew and cursed Hashem's
Hashem told Moshe to take him outside the Israelite
camp and tell all the Jews to come and watch as this man is stoned
to death for causing a great Chillul Hashem.
Tune in next week as the yearly cycle becomes a seven and 50 year
cycle... we're going Shmita and Yovel and it's
gonna be a free for all in the next exciting episode of:
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