Friday, April 27, 2007

To Do or Just To Hang Out ?

So according to the Ramban, the mitzva of "Kedoshim Tihiyu - Thou Shall be Holy" is avoiding the excesses that would otherwise seem permissible. According to Rashi, the mitzva focuses more on restraint ( bordering on total avoidance ) from excesses in the particular field of arayos.

Either way, I think the requirement is to have a more definitive purpose to our actions. Not just to do because the option presents itself, or avoid for lack of opportunity - rather to have a specific mode of conduct that one pursues.

Let's be Kedoshim in the strictest, literal sense of the word - let our actions be firmly dedicated toward accomplishing positive things instead of simply hovering outside the boundaries of the forbidden.

Hatzlacha !!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Are We Mice or Are We Men ?

The Ramban [ Bereishis 6:3 ] seems to imply that man is made up of two almost independent facets.

One - our animal side - we are two legged mammals who have a greater than average preoccupation with hair care - but otherwise, fully animalistic.

Two - our spiritual side - is actually a malach, an angel that was created to serve Hashem in the best way possible.

Who's gonna win out ?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pesach isn't over yet ?!?!

Actually - it's not ! Not until we receive the Torah, that is. Receiving the Torah is what Hashem took us out of Egypt for, after all. But it's a long, hard road of personal growth to go from the spiritual depths we sunk to in Mitzrayim until we are fit to receive the Torah.
That's why Pesach is so long - to allow us time to do this.
Consider this small aspect of our growth process - on the first day of Pesach - we were physically removed from the tumah of Mitzrayim. On the second ( the first day of the Omer ) we are commanded to bring a korban to Hashem - dedicating the first crop of grain - barley.
Why would we dedicate barley as the first crop ? Shouldn't we dedicate wheat, the staple grain of people, as opposed to barley, the staple grain of animals ?
No ( the obvious answer, of course - but why ? )
You see - when Hashem took us out of Egypt we weren't worthy of serving Him. We had scarcely any mitzvos to our credit and were generally impure. At that first redemption - we could only dedicate our physical selves to Hashem - because that's the only part of ourselves that we had any connection to. As such, our first korban is the one of barley, animal food, to symbolize the dedication of our physical ( or animalistic ) selves to Hashem.
Once we complete an intense seven week process of purification - we are better in touch with those higher faculties that make us people ( see Targum Onkelos on the creation of Man, Bereishis 2:7 ) and we can dedicate to Hashem the first korban of the staple grain of people, wheat, the korban of Shavuos .

Monday, April 09, 2007

Everything's gonna be alright ......

With the Egyptians closing in and the seeming dead end of the Yam Suf ahead - the Jewish people are, at least mildly panicked, and they cry out to Moshe. In turn, Moshe relays the pleas of the people to Hashem.

When addressed by Moshe Rabbeinu in no small degree of distress, Hashem responds - "What have you to yell at me - speak to the people and let them travel !".

Homiletically ( a fancy word that means that the following is a drasha and not strict pshat ) Rashi learns that Hashem was really telling Moshe - "What do you have to yell ? On me [is the responsibility] - talk to the people and tell them to travel !".

When the Jewish people are in trouble, Hashem tells Moshe, they need only to realize that the burden of responsibility for their welfare rests firmly on Hashem's shoulders. Nowhere else. Once they are secure in this knowledge - they can proceed.

This can be similar to when you have many chores to complete and a limited time to complete them - you may be panicked and anxious to get everything done. If, however, someone tells you "Do what you can - I'll take care of the rest" - the pressure is off. But it's not just the relief - it's the reassurance - the knowledge that there is someone who will provide a safety net and make sure that you are taken care of. And when that someone is Hashem - the reassurance is double. At least.