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The Kohen and Jewish Unity

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/19/2007 1:44 PM
“When a person will have in the skin of his flesh a spot of intense whiteness …he shall be brought before Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim. The Kohen shall look at the affliction…it is a tzora'as affliction. The Kohen shall examine it and declare him contaminated.” 13:2.3
  • To Aharon the Kohein etc. - It is a Scriptural decree that the declaration of the impurity of skin lesions and their purification is only by authority of a Kohen.” – Rashi
One of the primary causes of tzora’as is the spread of slander, a hateful act that triggers disunity among the Jewish people. The job of the Kohen is to assist the people in their quest for spiritual perfection and unify them under the banner of Torah and Heavenly service. Perhaps this is symbolized by the fact that only the Kohen is fit to pron ...

Only as a Last Resort

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/19/2007 1:43 PM

And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, saying: When a person will have in the skin of his flesh a spot of intense whiteness or an off-white spot, or a snow-white spot, and it forms on the skin of his body [like] the plague of tzora'as, he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim.” 13:1-2

  • Why does Hashem not instruct Moshe and Aharon to convey these laws to the Jewish people when it surely needed to be done? This is because Hashem wishes never to have to mete out consequences to mankind for their misdeeds. Rather, His desire is to be able to find them innocent of any wrongdoing. [Therefore He neglected to instruct them to relay this message to the Jewish people, as if hoping that it wouldn’t ever be necessary.] Similarly, when Adam sinned by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, about which he had been warned would lead to his death, Hashem entered into conversation wit ...

Always Planning for the Future

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/13/2007 1:41 PM
“A fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed what was on the altar; the burnt-offering and the fats. All the people saw and they sang songs of praise, and they fell on their faces.” 9:24
  • The fire descended down like a pillar from heaven to earth. – Rashi o And They Fell on Their Faces – They prayed the Divine Presence should continue to rest upon them in the future as well. – He’emek Davar
The joy experienced by the people was accompanied by the reality that the intensity of the moment probably would not last forever. Over time, enthusiasm wanes and mistakes are made. They prayed that their future mistakes not cause the Divine Presence to desert them as it had after the sin of the Golden Calf. This is the way of a spiritually conscious people who always plan for their spiritual future, and recognize ...

The Tempered Joy

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/13/2007 1:38 PM

“And it was on the eighth day [that] Moshe called to Aharon and to his sons and to the elders of Israel.” 9:1

  • Anytime the verse begins with the word Vayehi [and it was,] it indicates that grief is associated with the narrative. – Talmud, Megillah 10b

This verse introduced the special service the Kohanim performed in tandem with the inauguration of the tabernacle. It was also a symbol of their new status and their ability to obtain atonement on behalf of the nation through their service. What bad news could their appointment and consecration have heralded, that mandated the use of the word “VaYehi” to connote tragedy? Sforno notes that the construction of the tabernacle was not truly the ideal situation. Prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, every Jew could have served as a re ...


It’s Not “How Much,” But “How Well”

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 3/12/2007 12:41 PM

Take from among yourselves a portion for Hashem. Every man whose heart motivates him to generosity shall bring it: a gift for Hashem: gold, silver and copper” 35:5

    • Whose heart motivates him to generosity - Since it is his heart that inspires him [to give] he is called "generous of heart." - Rashi
  • The use of the feminine term, “yeviahah ” - [shall bring it,] rather than the more common masculine form “yavi, ” is to highlight the fact that many of these items were brought from women’s gold and silver ornaments. Moshe stressed that the husbands were not permitted to coerce their wives into contributing these items. Only items that the women enthusiastically donated were to be brought for use in constructing the Mishkan. – Baal HaTurim
  • In order to experience the spi ...

Doing Whatever We Can

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 3/7/2007 1:01 PM

When you take a census of the Bnei Yisrael [Children of Israel] to determine their numbers, every man shall give Hashem an atonement pledge for his soul, when you count them…Everyone passing by to be counted must give this - half a shekel based on the shekel of the Holy [Sanctuary,] where a shekel is twenty geirah…” 30:12-13

  • When you take the count - When you will wish to take the sum total of their numbers, do not take a head count, but, rather, let each give a half-shekel, then count the shekalim and you will know their number." - Rashi

The annual collection of this half shekel gift to pay for the communal offerings was conducted during the month of Adar, so that they would be ready in time for the month of Nissan. Therefore this chapter was always read in synagogues on the Shabbos before Rosh Chode ...


Dressing the Part

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 3/1/2007 4:14 PM

You shall make sacred garments for your brother, Aharon, for honor and splendor.” 28:2

  • The garments were to honor the Kohanim, for these garments were similar to the garb of royalty. – Ramban
  • These garments were worn whenever a Kohein performed the sacred service. Any service performed without these garments was invalid. - Talmud

The law stating that these garments were mandatory, and that their absence invalidated the service, suggests that when a Jew is engaged in the performance of G-d’s sacred commandments, he too, should take care to dress with dignity and honor. In doing so, one demonstrates proper reverence for the One before whom he stands. This is the source of the ancient custom to don formal clothing for prayer and Shabbos.

Torah: The Birthright of Every Jew

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/28/2007 11:58 AM

“And they shall fashion an Ark of cedar wood, two and a half cubits its length, one and a half cubits it width and one and a half cubits its height.” 25:10

  • The construction of the Ark preceded that of all the other utensils of the Tabernacle because the Torah is preeminent among all the services a Jew must perform for G-d. This is similar to the creation of light prior to all other creations during the Six Days of Creation, as the Torah is compared to light. - Medrash Rabbah 34:2
  • Regarding all of the utensils of the Tabenacle it is written, “V’assisah” [and you shall fashion in the singular form] and regarding the Ark it is written, “V’assu” [and you shall fashion in the plural] This teaches us that G-d intended that every single individual partake in the construction of the Ark so that they may all have a share of the Torah that it represe ...

The Purity of the Leaders

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/26/2007 3:54 PM

“Now you shall command the Children of Israel and have them bring you pure olive oil, pressed for lighting, to keep the lamp burning constantly.” 27:20

o       Pressed - He would crush the olives in a mortar and not grind them in a mill so that it would not contain sediment. After extracting the first droplet, he would put them into a mill and grind them. This second oil is unfit for the menorah but may be used for meal offerings for it states: "p ...


The Root of it All

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 2/22/2007 3:29 PM

“You shall make seven lamps [for the menorah]; and its lamps shall be lit so that they shine toward it [the center lamp].” 25:37

  • The three flames on the right side symbolize intellectual thoughts and ideas, whereas those on the left symbolize material pursuits. All of them must always draw their inspiration and be guided by the Torah, symbolized by the central light. – Sforno
Judaism rejects any notion of a distinct separation between the boardroom and the synagogue, because there isn’t a single facet of life that isn’t unequivocally directed by the Torah’s teachings. What transpires in the boardroom must conform to the dictates of the Torah, and no amount of praying or studying can mitigate that obligation. When employed as a holistic guide to life, the Torah en ...

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