Shemini 5774

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When the Torah lists the 4 unkosher animals, the camel, the hare, the hyrax, and the pig, it lists which kosher signs they have and which they don't. Why don't just say which they don't have? The Kli Yakar explains that the kosher signs they have make their uncleanliness worse as these animals deceive people into thinking that they're kosher. There is a Midrash that says that the 4 unkosher animals represent the 4 kingdoms (Babylon, Media, Greece and Rome) that ruled over the Jews. When a person eats these 4 animals, their deceptive nature becomes part of the person's nature. The 4 kingdoms deceived the Jews into thinking that they were allies when they never were to begin with.

Tzav 5774

Friday, March 14, 2014

There is a "shalsheles" in this week's parsha. It occurs on the word "vayishchat" - Moshe slaughtered a ram during the inauguration process for Aaron and his sons. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains that a shalsheles shows internal struggle. Moshe was happy for his brother to become the High Priest, but he still felt a loss of being unable to do the avodah every day. Moshe realized at that moment what his limits were. This is an important lesson for a leader. In order to be a better leader, one must recognize his/her limits; that will, in turn, help him/her recognize what his/or strengths are. By doing so, the leader humbles his/herself and prevents power from going to his/her head.

Vayikra 5774

Friday, March 7, 2014

"When a man from you brings a sacrifice to Hashem..." (1:2). The Kli Yakar explains this posuk in the following manner: We are to be like Adam, the first man, when we bring a sacrifice. Adam had brought a sacrifice to Hashem out of his own motivation from within. This is in contrast to Cain and Abel, who both erred in this regard. Cain brought fruit from his worst produce; Abel brought a sheep, but only did so in response to Cain (his motivation was out of jealousy and competition). The posuk reads clearer now: When you act like Adam and bring motivation from within yourself, only then is your sacrifice considered for Hashem.
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