Achrei-Kedoshim

“Do not curse the deaf.”
~ Leviticus 19:14

Words spoken from an angry heart with ill intent hurt.

But if the deaf cannot hear, surely they won’t feel any pain?

They won’t but you will. Although the deaf won’t even know about it, there’s still a negative impact on the one who said it, because they said it.

Cursing is like punching a wall in a fit of anger. Although you won’t break your tongue as you would your hand, you nonetheless defile yourself by simply losing control.

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Tazria-Metzora

“And on the day healthy flesh appears in it, it shall be pure.”
~ Leviticus 13:14

Tzara’as was a leprosy-like condition resulting from slander, which rendered someone spiritually-impure. However, only a priest could determine their status, and until then, one remains pure until further notice.

Why add the phrase “on the day”?

To teach that there are times – like festivals and the seven days of a wedding celebration – when the priest shouldn’t check at all, so as not to dampen the joy. Instead we leave the afflicted person in limbo.

Chill out. Your problems will wait.

* This week’s davar is dedicated in honor of the 90th birthday of Judith Nora Cohen Resnick, whose celebrating in Israel with four generations of family. Ad meah ve’esrim!

Shemini

“Moses said: “This is the thing that God has commanded that you do, then the Glory of God will appear to you.”
~ Leviticus 9:6

After instructing the priests how to perform the sacrifices, Moses reassures them that consequently God would appear.

Why was this necessary?

Because some people believe that when it comes to a relationship with God, mere emotion is sufficient and action is optional. While it’s true that a mitzvah performed without emotion is lacking, nonetheless, it’s the deed that counts.

Just like no bride agreed to marriage without a ring, so too it’s our display of trust that God responds to.

* This week’s davar is dedicated to my grandmother Etta bas Efraim who passed away on Monday morning at the age of 90. May her beautiful soul have an elevation.

Tzav

““He shall remove his garments and wear other garments and he shall take out the ashes.”
~ Leviticus 6:4

The first daily Temple-service was the removal of the previous day’s ashes from the Altar.

Why did the priest need to change clothes?

Sorry budding Kabbalists, no hidden mysticism here and not even a mitzvah! Rather just simple commonsense: sense he’s likely to soil his holy garments from the dirty ashes, the priest should change into ‘overalls’. Evidently, certain clothing is unsuitable for specific pursuits.

If you dress appropriately for business-meetings or social-functions, why should spiritual ones be any different?

Vayikra

“He shall remove the entire tail from above the advice [kidneys]”
~ Leviticus 3:9

The book of Leviticus deals with the sacrifices offered in the Temple, in all their gory details.

Clearly the verse refers to “kidneys” – so why write the word “advice”?

Because kidneys perform an essential function, their location is buried beneath the ribcage, concealed by other organs and enclosed by layers of thick fat, tough membranes and lymph-nodes. So too our innermost thoughts and deepest desires are hidden from our conscious mind.

Beware, much of what ‘advises’ you is totally invisible.

Vayakeil-Pekudei

“God has proclaimed by name, Betzalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.”
~ Exodus 35:1

Thirteen-year-old Betzalel was chosen to supervise the Tabernacle’s construction.

Formal Jewish names typically add just the parent, so why trace Betzalel’s genealogy back three generations and include his tribe?

Because both Betzalel’s grandfather and his tribe achieved greatness through self-sacrifice: Hur died trying to stop the Golden Calf; and Judah walked into the sea neck-high until it split. Continuing the family-tradition, Betzalel’s sublime wisdom was a result of self-sacrifice.

Greatness only shines through when we get out of the way.

Ki Sisa

“They arose early the next day and offered sacrifices. The people sat to eat and drink, and they got up to make merry.”
~ Exodus 32:6

Just seven weeks after the Exodus and a mere forty days after the Sinai-experience, the Golden Calf was built.

After such a high, how did they fall so low, so fast?

True intentions are exposed in what’s done at the end of a process, so the answer lies in their “making merry”. The Hebrew word for this – “לְצַחֵק” – usually refers to sexual immorality. The idol-worship it seems was just a smokescreen.

To improve, don’t adjust the act, correct your intentions.