I was gazing at the priceless treasures of the museum. I tried to get a little closer, but the treasures were blocked off by a rope. I wanted to reach out to grab them but they were enclosed in a glass. “Mom- why don’t they let me touch these cool things?” Mom explained: “You see, my son, these are very rare artifacts, if everyone would handle them, surely they would be damaged. If they are slightly damaged, they aren’t so special anymore.”STORY;
The Kohanim are the special people who devote themselves to serving Hashem. Because they are chosen for such an important job, they have to be protected from coming in contact with a dead body. When the holy soul leaves a person’s body, the body becomes Tom'ei (impure). The Kohain protects himself from this Tum'ah (impurity) by avoiding being close to a dead body. He therefore refrains from attending a funeral. Only to his immediate family is an exception made. What would happen if there was no one to bury the body?
EVEN A KOHAIN GADOL WOULD CONTAMINATE HIMSELF TO BURY IT!!
Our Torah teaches us to treat the body of the dead person with honor. We don’t let the corpse go unburied. We know that this body enabled the Neshama to do Mitzvot in this world.
Rav Yisroel Salanter was in the middle of saying “Shema” when he overheard people trying to excuse themselves from burying a dead body. Without hesitation, he dashed out of Shul to bury the body. The Kohain Gadol isn’t allowed to contaminate himself even for his immediate family.LESSON:
The greater the position in life, the greater is the responsibility that follows. The more special you are, the more protection you need (Remember the parable we started out with).
It’s important to have the right attitude towards the concept of the Kohain and Levi. They were supported by the rest of the Jews by the giving of the Trumot and Ma'asrot. The Kohanim were provided with all their needs to enable them to be dedicated for the service of Hashem. The rest of the nation who "shelled out" the money, were rewarded by Hashem for their part in the service of the Kohain. This concept applies today. If we support people who study Torah, we get their reward for the Torah studied (They keep theirs).
Not everyone is put in this world for the same purpose. We are given different positions. The Kohain was given a special job that required of him to be in the presence of Hashem in the Mishkan. He therefore is treated special. This is not equality.LESSON;
Unity amongst our people is not achieved by everyone being the same, rather it’s by everyone being who he/she was created to be and to respect the status and job of the next guy. Don’t try to be a Kohain. That’s not who you are supposed to be. Be the best “Yisroel” that you can. Hashem gave you special talents that no one else has. If you use these talents for YOUR job in the world, you will be a great person. By this way of life, you have just as much of a chance to get your share in Olam HaBoh as the next guy.
IN THIS RESPECT; ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL!!!
Being a Kohain Gadol was no simple task. One of the requirements to be a Kohain Gadol was - strength! This seems odd to me. After all, this wasn’t the W.W.F. (World’s Wrestling Federation). This was the holiest position to have in this world.FASCINATING SIDE POINT:
Aharon HaKohain lifted 22,000 Levi'im in one day!!!!LESSON:
He lifted them forwards, backwards, up and down.
Question: What was this strength that the Kohain Gadol needed?
Answer: It was not just physical strength, rather it was strength of character to overcome laziness.
Don’t be lazy! Let’s not give in to our lazy nature of letting the opportunity of life pass us by.STORY:
The “Ba’al HaTanya" (first Lubavitcher Rebbe) was collecting money for a needy family in his city. He made his rounds with two other Rabbonim (Rabbis) of the city. After approaching all the contributors they thought of, they realized they were far from their goal. They couldn’t think of anyone else to ask from. The Ba’al HaTanya suggested a wealthy man who lived out of town. The other Rabbonim were against the idea since the man was known to be stingy and probably wouldn’t give. The Ba’al HaTanya ordered the other Rabbonim to join him to go for a ride. They rode for a couple of hours until they reached a large house. The Ba’al HaTanya spoke: “Gentlemen, this is the home of that wealthy person, should we try to get money from him?” “Well of course,” said the other two, “We’re here already.” The Ba’al HaTanya said with a smile; “When you said we shouldn’t attempt to travel to this person, it wasn’t because you felt he wouldn’t give, after all, you are willing to try now and he’s the same man as he was two hours ago. Therefore your reason for not attempting to approach this man was due to laziness. You didn’t want to make the trip.”
When we act in a way that will inspire others to want to live a life of Torah, we have made a Kiddush Hashem. When we act in a way that reflects poorly on religious people, when we act in a way that reflects poorly on religious people, we have made a Chillul Hashem. There is another type of Kiddush Hashem that many of our Tzaddikim yearned to fulfill, but was performed by many simple (and at times irreligious) Jews. The Kiddush Hashem I’m referring to is when a Jew gives his life up for Hashem. This is a great Mitzvah that attaches to the one who fulfills it, the title, "Kadosh."STORY:
We know of the Israeli soldiers who fight to protect the Jews in Eretz Yisroel and are killed in the process. They gave their life for a holy cause and are considered “holy” when they are killed. Any Jew who dies because he/she is Jewish, is considered “holy.” The six Million Jews who were killed by the Nazis are considered "Kedoshim."
The Rebbe of Grodzisk led his Chassidic for 48 years. When the Nazis started killing us, the Rebbe’s Chassidim tried every possible way to rescue the Tzaddik. The Rebbe refused to leave his Chassidim in such a time and was loaded onto the trains with them to Treblinka. The followers looked to their leader, hoping he could help them understand their upcoming fate. The Rebbe spoke his final words; “My brothers and sisters, we are the children of Hashem and have been chosen to bear the suffering before the coming of Moshiach. We must consider ourselves fortunate to die and be an atonement for our other fellow Jews who remain alive. It is through our death that Moshiach will come sooner to the world. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, when you walk to the gas chambers, walk with joy and not sadness.” And the Rebbe with his Chassidim held their head high as they sang the “Ani Ma’amin” on their way to the next world. This is how these "Kedoshim" returned their souls to our Father in heaven.STORY:
In a small town in Europe lived a Jewish butcher who was totally removed from his Jewish heritage. The townspeople never would have guessed that he was a Jew, since he sold non-kosher meat and was open on Shabbos.
In the outskirts of the city, the Nazis were rounding up Jews. They commanded them to dig their graves and line up in front of them. The Jews let out their last cry to Hashem when the gunshots fired. Some fell over, but others remained standing. A burst of laughter was heard from the Nazi’s mouths. No one was shot. Their guns weren’t loaded with real bullets. It was all a “joke.” The evil Nazis repeated their “joke” again. Once again, the shots rung out but once again, no bullets came out. While the Nazis were playing their game with the Jews, the butcher asked his customer what all the noise was about. “Oh nothing, they’re just shooting some Jews.” The butcher ripped off his apron, ran out of his shop and yelled; “They’re shooting Jews? I’m Jewish, shoot me too!”
What happened? His whole life he denied his Judaism. He lived his life like a non-Jew. All of a sudden he’s willing to give UP his life for his Judaism.
This doesn’t make any sense???
The answer is; Every Jew, regardless of how irreligious, has a spark of holiness within him/her. When that spark is being pushed down, it starts to burn again. This Jew who denied his faith for decades, is now willing to die for it. It’s not logical. It’s the spark of holiness that burns within every Jew.
This spark is what made many irreligious Jews willing to die rather than disgrace our religion. There is no nation in the world like the Jewish people.
These Jews may have lived a life of Chillul Hashem, but at least gave their life for Kiddush Hashem. There’s another type of Kiddush Hashem which is for people like you and me. We told stories about people who gave up their life for Hashem, now let’s talk about how we can give our life for Hashem. When we walk down the Avenue looking like a religious Jew and acting accordingly, we make a Kiddush Hashem. We don’t have to worry what someone might think of us if we wear our yarmulke. If we are acting in a positive way, we have nothing to be ashamed about. A religious Jew has endless ways to make a Kiddush Hashem.
I once got up to give my seat to an old lady. She sat down with a smile and said to me; “It’s the people like you who give up their seat to me.” I wasn’t trying to impress her, but I, along with other religious Jews, made a Kiddush Hashem.
1- always offer your seat to an elder.People will respect you if you have a value system and stick with it. If you’re unsure of your religion, others will look down on it.
2- smile! It costs nothing but pays off.
3- give spare change to a beggar (or more if he’s not a phony).
4- say your pleases and thank-you’s as mom taught.
5- clean up after yourself at the pizza shop...
6- look neat. People will respect you more.
7- speak with respect to every person.
8- stand up, if someone is standing & talking to you.
9- walk tall and proud. You are children of a king.
10-Never be ashamed to stick with your principles.
It’s uncomfortable at first, but you’ll see it’s true.
Let’s be a Kiddush Hashem in our daily lives. Pray that we will never see the tragedies that those who had to give up their lives for Hashem, saw.
Remember our motto: If it’s worth dying for, it’s certainly worth living for.
Our Parsha lists all the Yom Tovim. Each Yom Tov has it’s feeling that’s connected to it. The older we get, our childhood memories fade, yet the Yom Tovim of our youth remain as a beautiful island amongst a roaring sea. The Yom Tovim are our kiss from Hashem. It’s our reminder how we’re a special people who are cherished by the master of the world. Sefirat HaOmer is a special time. Unlike the Yommim Tovim, Sefirat HaOmer teaches us that every day counts (and is counted). Each day is unique and much could be accomplished in the service of Hashem. We bring Hashem into our daily lives and not just for the “Yom Tovim.”LESSON:
Let’s be “Sefirah” Jews and bring Hashem into our daily lives. Serving Hashem is not only on “Yom Tov” or in the Shul, it’s in our every move.GOOD SHABBOS
© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
R' Matis Friedman's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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