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TIFERET EYAL
Weekly Shabbat Timings, Parsha Commentary and Online Events


:: SHABBAT ACHAREI MOT-KEDOSHIM :: 

1/2 May 2020        7/8
 Iyar 5780

Shabbat commences 8:09pm Shabbat terminates  9:19pm  


We hope you are enjoying Rav Eyal Raymond's commentaries on the Parasha reproduced in English translation at the end of these weekly emails. As well as his interesting insights and sources he tells over many lovely parables that you will enjoy sharing with your loved one(s) at the shabbat table

::   ONLINE LEARNING & EVENTS   ::

TONIGHT!  Monday 27th April:  
7:45 -8:45pm
"ARE SEPHARDIM MONOLITHIC"
Exploring the forgotten Sephardi Hachamim and their approaches
Join our webinar where Rabbi 
Danny Kada interviews Professor Marc Shapiro

https://zoom.us/j/92128668854
pwd=MTIyM2RYR3kwWDN5TFNsQmw3NmNCdz09

Password: 0808

Tuesday 28th April:
7:45pm: Experience of IDF soldier Mikey Benjamin in honour of Yom Hazikaron
8:00pm: Lecture by Rabbi Kada:
"Shouldn't we all be making Aliyah?"
followed by singing of Halel with Hazan David Raymond

Wednesday 29th April: 

7:30-8:30pm
Rambam Principles of Faith: Principle 12: The Coming of Mashiah 

Thursday 30th April:
7:30-8:00pm
Our Hachamim: Insights from Pikrei Avot: Chapter 3

Link for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 28-30 April: 

https://zoom.us/j/97482174585?pwd=WFFrTW9EUDVCanVaeFZ6UXIxd25RQT09  

Mincha is always 15 minutes before (so most days 7:15pm - 7:30 on Tuesday) and Arvit and counting of the Omer following the lecture. 

Please log on in good time and include your full name in order to be allowed past the waiting room into the shiur. Waiting Room closes 10 minutes after the shiur begins

People can also follow on Facebook all of the above: 
https://fb.me/rabbikada
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NEXT WEEK:   

Tuesday 5th May
7:45 - 8:45 pm
Rambam Principles of Faith Series Principle 13:
Resurrection of the Dead


Zoom Link:
 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81012042311?pwd=RGViWm9VaTdPdXNPMUp6RGZDTmN1dz09
Password: 0808

Thursday 7th May: 
7:30-8:30pm
Rabbi Kada chats with Dayan Ofer Livnat (S&P Beth Din)
"The functions of a Beth Din in the Modern World"


Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81012042311?pwd=RGViWm9VaTdPdXNPMUp6RGZDTmN1dz09
Password: 0808

 

:: Rav Eyal Raymond's Weekly Commentary ::

ACHAREI MOT

“After the two sons of Aaron died when they came close to Hashem and they died.” (16:1)

“Rabbi Chiya bar Abba said, ‘The sons of Aaron died on the first day of Nissan, so why is their death mentioned on Yom Kippur? This teaches us that just as Yom Kippur atones, similarly, the death of the righteous atones.’”

(Vayikra Rabbah 20:12)

Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, the Rabbi of Kovno, asked the following question. In the Talmud (Ketubot 103B) it is told that when Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai passed away, a Divine voice emerged from Heaven and said, "Whoever was at the funeral of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai is destined to go to the World to Come." This seems hard to understand. Why, specifically, at the funeral of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai were the participants promised that they would go to the World to Come if the death of every righteous person atones?

Rather, there is a disagreement between Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and the other sages about the atonement of Yom Kippur. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai thought that Yom Kippur atones for both those who repent and those who do not repent. However, the sages were of the opinion that it only atones for those who repent. Since the death of the righteous is equal to Yom Kippur regarding matters of forgiveness, then they must have also disagreed regarding this. This is because the opinion of the sages would be that the death of the righteous will not atone unless a person would come to hear the eulogies and be aroused to repent. However, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai's opinion would be that it atones even if they only came to show their respect without even repenting.

The rule here was that if Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai disagreed with one of his peers, then the law is like his opinion. However, this would not be the case [if Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai disagreed] with all of his peers. Therefore, the deaths of other righteous people do not atone for all of the funeral participants, but only for those who repent. However, with the death of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai, it was decided in Heaven for the sake of his honor that it would be his way in this case. Therefore, an edict came down from Heaven that whoever just participated in the funeral would be atoned for, even if he did not repent. 

 

"When they came close to Hashem and they died." (16:1)

The two sons of Aaron were burned because they brought a foreign fire [on the altar]. This seems to require explanation. It is known that the lower [human] court system [in this world] does not judge a person until he is thirteen. In the Heavenly court, they only begin judging at age twenty. Aaron's sons were less than twenty years old, so how were they judged?

The sages answer that only normal people are not judged [below age twenty]. However, a sharp person whose intelligence and wisdom are like that of an older person is judged even when he is below twenty years of age. Nadav and Avihu were less than twenty years old, however, their spiritual and intellectual level was like that of a person older than twenty years of age. Therefore, they were punished. 

An example of Hashem's stringency with His devout ones is the mighty incident that happened with Rabbi Chaim ben Atar.

Besides for having outstanding greatness in Torah, Rabbi Chaim was also a collector of charity. Every Shabbat eve, he would distribute food among the poor. One Shabbat eve, it was difficult to obtain meat, but Rabbi Chaim slaughtered a few animals and began to distribute them. Among those who came to receive were two men. One of them was a Torah scholar and the other was one of the wealthiest men in the city. The rabbi preferred to give the Torah scholar meat first and there was none left for the wealthy man. When the wealthy man saw this, he began to degrade the Torah scholar. He also said that since he was one of the people who support the charitable organization of food distribution on Shabbat eve, he had the right to receive meat first. The other one was "only" a Torah scholar who does not support organizations of charity and kindness, etc. He continued to degrade the Torah scholar in this manner and Rabbi Chaim stood there quietly.

In a dream, the following was revealed to the rabbi and he was told, “Since you did not protest the disgrace to the honor of a Torah scholar, you are deserving of death.” The rabbi pleaded for his life and in the end, a compromise was made with him that he will have to go into exile for five years. During that time, he was prohibited from revealing his identity to anyone and, also, there was a condition that he must not sleep in the same house for two nights.

In the morning, the rabbi woke up, prepared his belongings, parted from his household and started to wander from place to place. One Friday, he reached a certain city and was hosted at the home of the city’s rabbi for the Shabbat of the Torah portion of Bechukotai. On Friday night, all of the people of the city came to the rabbi’s house to hear a Torah lesson from him about the Torah portion of the week.

The rabbi began to say that one night, some novel explanations authored by Rabbi Chaim ben Atar were revealed to him about the Torah portion of Bechukotai. Rabbi Chaim rose up and started to say disgraceful things about himself, “Who is Chaim ben Atar anyway? etc.” Understandably, the people of the city protested the honor of the righteous man and they tried to remove him from that place.

The rabbi said to them, “Leave him alone. He is just a poor man who does not know or understand anything.”

Rabbi Chaim acted in this way during the other lessons on Shabbat until Seuda Shlishit [the third and last meal of Shabbat]. At that point, when he began to disgrace himself, the rabbi instructed his students to put him in a room and to lock him there until Shabbat would be over.

After the Arvit [evening] prayer when the rabbi wanted to conduct the Havdalah service, he was unable to do so. Suddenly, Strong winds began to blow and there was thunder, lightning and strong rains along with them.

The people of the city were frightened and they did not know what was happening to them.

The rabbi entered a room and asked a question to Heaven through a dream. He was told that in Heaven, they do not judge the wicked until after Shabbat is over and they only begin to do so when Rabbi Chaim ben Atar conducts the Havdalah service. Since he is closed up in a room, Hell was not being opened up. The rabbi understood what had happened. Immediately, he went to seek out the forgiveness of Rabbi Chaim, they conducted the Havdalah service. Then, everything stopped.

Immediately after this, it was told to Rabbi Chaim ben Atar from Heaven that since he disgraced himself so much, he was forgiven for being quiet and not protesting the disgrace of the Torah scholar. Rabbi Chaim then returned home.

We see from here how Hashem is stringent with His righteous ones and also how severe is the sin of disgracing a Torah scholar. Hashem should lead us on the straight path.

 

“He should not come into the Sanctuary at any time … for with a cloud I will appear upon the Ark covering.” (16:2)

“For I always appear there with My pillar of cloud. Since My presence is revealed there, he should be careful not to come there regularly.”

(Rashi)

We learn a great principle from the words of Rashi. The high priest would only enter the Sanctuary once a year. If this is a place of holiness, on the contrary, wouldn’t it be fitting to enter it many times in order to merit having the holiness that is contained in it?

Rather, says Rashi, if it would be permitted for him to enter there whenever he would like, the high priest may become accustomed with that place and perhaps he would come to disgrace it, G-d forbid!

This was said regarding Aaron the priest about whom the Torah testifies in the portion of Behaalotcha, “And Aaron did so.” Rashi explained, “This tells praise about Aaron that he did not deviate [from Hashem’s words].” Aaron would always do the work of the Tabernacle with the same excitement, as if he was doing it for the first time. Even so, the Torah warned that “He should not come into the Sanctuary at any time,” so that he should not come, G-d forbid, to being accustomed to it and, as a result, disgrace it!

We find a similar matter in a verse in Ezekiel (46:9), “And when the nation of the land will come before Hashem during the holidays, one who comes in through the northern gate to bow down should exit through the southern gate. One who comes in through the southern gate should exit through the northern gate and he should not go back through the one that he came through. Rather, he should exit through the one opposite it.” What disadvantage is there if he goes back through and exits from where he entered?

Rather, if he will go twice on the same path, he might become accustomed to the situation and he might come to disgrace it, G-d forbid. Therefore, the Torah said that he should not go back through the same gate. Rather, he should “exit through the one opposite it.”
 

“This will be for you an eternal decree to bring atonement upon the Children of Israel for all of their sins once a year.” (16:34)

What novelty is being brought here by saying that Yom Kippur is “once a year?”

Rabbi Yaakov Charif of Vilna explained this by way of a parable. If a sick person needs to be transported a great distance to see an expert doctor in the capital city, he will be taken there without any delay. However, if the illness becomes overpowering to the extent that the trip can endanger him, they will stop at every station and go to a local doctor who can restore him. This way he will be able to continue to the capital city without dying along the way.

The comparison is as follows. When the Jewish people are going along the paved path, they are only a little bit ill, since “There is no righteous person in the land that only does good and does not sin.” When they reach Yom Kippur and repent, they can continue again securely until the next Yom Kippur. However, if the illness of the soul is very dangerous and it is not possible to wait until the next Yom Kippur, Heaven sends another kind of atonement during the year, such as an illness, plague or death of a righteous person that will atone for them as Yom Kippur does.

Therefore, the Torah warns us that Yom Kippur will only be “once a year” if we will better our deeds through complete repentance. If this will be the case, then an additional atonement like Yom Kippur will not be necessary.

 

“And the land will not vomit you out when you make it impure.” (18:28)

The land will not vomit out the Jewish nation even when they sin and make it impure, as it vomited out the previous nation that lived in it and sinned. However, because of this, one who sins is cut off from the Jewish nation!

This is similar to a parable about a wealthy man who had an only son. This son was bored most of the time, since he was all alone. The wealthy man saw this and brought an orphan into his home so that his son can have a friend and so that the loneliness would not consume him. Of course, the wealthy man cared for all of his needs – he fed him, dressed him and hired a teacher to teach him along with his son. After a few months, the orphaned boy began to evade his studies and become wild. He would run away from his studies in order to stroll about and have a good time. The wealthy man saw this and sent him away from his home.

After a few days, the wealthy man saw that his son was also acting this way – he was only being wild, joking around, eating and sleeping, but he was not studying. Immediately, he grabbed him and he spanked him. 

The son asked his father, “Why, specifically, do you hit me when I go wild, but when the other boy acted this way you sent him away from the house without hitting him? I prefer that you not hit me and just send me away from the house, only, so that you should not hit me.”

His father answered him, “The difference between you two is that you are my son and I am obligated to educate you so that I will have an educated and learned son who acts nicely and with manners. I also want you to stay with me in my home. However, the orphaned boy is not my son and I do not want him to remain in my house. Therefore, I sent him away from here. However, in order for me to take pleasure from you in the future, I am obligated to hit you now, since if it is not so, then “One who spares the staff hates his son” (Proverbs 13:24).

“Like the deeds of the land of Canaan you shall not do.” It is prohibited for the Jewish nation to sin as the nations do. However, the difference is that the land vomited out the nations, but it is not so with you, “The land will not vomit you out when you make it impure.” However, the one who sins will be cut off, G-d forbid, from the Jewish nation.

KEDOSHIM

“Speak to the entire congregation of Israel and you should tell them, ‘You should be holy.’” (19:2)

The way of our holy Torah is that, through its sanctity, every person can reach the level of holiness. This is the emphasis here when it says, “Speak to the entire congregation of Israel … ‘You should be holy.’” Each and every one of the congregation of the Jewish people without exception is capable of reaching the level of holiness by fulfilling the commandments. This is what we say in the blessings before doing the commandments, “that He sanctified us with His commandments.” Each and every commandment brings a person towards holiness.

Furthermore, we find, “‘And you shall make yourselves holy’ – these are the first waters [which are used for washing one’s hands before eating bread]. ‘And you will be holy’ – these are the last waters [which are used for washing one’s hands after eating bread]” (Brachot 53B). Through this, the sages revealed to us that not only do the commandments of the Torah bring us to holiness, but even the sanctions made by the sages, such as washing one’s hands before and after a meal [that consists of bread], have an influence of holiness on a person’s soul.

How much must we thank our Creator, may His name be blessed forever, for informing us about the laws of His will in order to benefit us forever and to apportion for us unimaginable and eternal reward [for fulfilling them]!

Rabbi Yosef Mashash explained to the public about the commandments and their rewards, about which it is said, “Hashem wanted to give the Jewish people merits. Therefore, He gave them the multitude of Torah and the commandments.” It has been asked and pondered that if one would want to give merits to his fellow, would he place more and more obligations upon him?

He explained this matter by way of a parable. There was a man who was one of the wealthiest men of a large city. He was a merchant whose products were distributed all over and there was no end to his wealth. He found himself in a faraway village during a trip. He looked around and saw the poverty of the village and its inhabitants and he wanted to act generously with them. He turned to the first person who he chanced upon and stretched out a golden coin to him and said, “I would like a place to have a meal and  sleep at night. I am willing to pay five dinars for every item of the meal!”

The man said to him, “Can you please wait for a moment? I will search for an appropriate place to host you.” He knocked on the doors of the houses and he was always answered in the negative. Whoever heard the offer though that he was being mocked. Who would pay a golden dinar for a meal, let alone, five dinars, and furthermore, for every item?!?

This is what was happening as he passed from one house to another until he reached a small shack at the end of the settlement. He knocked on the door and repeated the offer. The poor man listened and thought to himself, “Even if this is an exaggeration, he will at least pay a little bit and I can not lose anything.” 

He replied to the man, “My house is here at his disposal. I only hope that I will find favor in his eyes!”

The messenger returned and told this to the wealthy man. In the meantime, the poor man worked feverishly to prepare his shack, to air it out and clean it to the best of his ability. The wealthy man arrived and while he was already unpacking his belongings, the poor man hurried to borrow money and dishes. He bought plenty of food items and he returned to the shack. He set a table before the wealthy man, spread a borrowed white tablecloth on it, arranged the borrowed dishes and set out the many foods. He worked hard around the guest and made his bed. In the morning, he returned and set up the table for a meal. Then, the guest packed his belongings.

Before he parted from him, the guest said, “My stay here was very pleasant for me. Now, please bring me a list of all of the items in the meals.”

“That’s it!” thought the man in his heart. “If so, then the man spoke the truth when he asked me to host him. He is going to pay for every item. Even if he does not pay five golden dinars, it is still enough for me…”

He stood there and made a list, “Bread and butter, vegetables and omelet, fish and a quiche…”

“Not that way!” the guest stopped him. “Instead of writing ‘vegetables,’ you should write ‘tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.’ Instead of writing ‘quiche,’ you should write ‘potatoes, flour, pepper and salt.’ Do the others this way.”  

The poor man was surprised and did as he was told and the list doubled and then tripled. The guest looked at it closely and said, “I am surprised at you. You erred in your calculations and you left out many things!”

The poor man was taken aback and said, “What are they?”

He said to him, “They are the tablecloth, fork, knife, spoon, plate, pots, frying pan, cup, bowl, platter, towel, and napkin. This is in addition to the bed, mattress, linen, pillow case, pillow and blanket. Also, there is the house, oven, coals and lamp. For each and every one of these items, five golden dinars will be paid. How can you forget them?”

The poor man answered, “Forgive me, sir, but I did not mean to count these because they do not belong in the category of dining or sleeping.”

“You are mistaken,” said the wealthy man. “Each of these items would detract from dining and sleeping [if they were to be missing]. Therefore, it is an item in and of itself and it is necessary to pay for it.”

That is how it was. He paid five golden dinars for every object and the poor man became the wealthiest man of the village!

Similarly, “Hashem wanted to give the Jewish people merits. Therefore, He gave them the multitude of Torah and commandments.” This means to say that He multiplied each and every commandment in order to give reward for every detail, action and movement that it consists of. A person may think that he just receives reward for praying the morning prayers, but it is not so. Rather, we receive reward for each and every step that we take towards the synagogue and for every chapter of Psalms from the part of the prayers when we express praise. This is in addition to every verse and every word, for every “amen” and every blessing, for every bending over and bowing. Also, it is for every kiss that ones gives to the tfilin, tzitzit and Torah scroll and for every time he rises and shows respect for an elderly person or wise man. The reward is given for all of the details that can not be enumerated due to their infiniteness. It is unbelievable that there is something as sweet as this. Can there be any greater merit?!?
(Nachalat Avot)


“You shall be holy.” (19:2)

“You should be separated from immorality and from sin.”
(Rashi)

In his book “Mesilat Yesharim,” the Ramch”al taught us that holiness is one level before divine inspiration. However, the following question is asked. Certainly, a person who merited reaching this level, which is right before divine inspiration, is a very righteous person. However, from Rashi’s words, it sounds like the commandment to be separated from immorality is said about all people, even those who are not on this level [of holiness]. Is this possible?!

From here, the sages learned a great ethical principle. A person should not be satisfied with mediocrity in Torah and fear of Heaven. He must always long to rise higher and higher and reach more elevated levels. The command to be separated from immorality is, indeed, a high level in the service of Hashem. However, every Jew needs to long to reach it. This is because if the Torah commands us to reach certain levels, then it is certain that we are capable of reaching them! One person may merit reaching them in a small amount of time, while it may take more time for his friend. Every person can achieve this according to his capabilities. However, certainly, if there is a commandment, it is possible!

Hannah prayed to Hashem and asked, “And You shall give Your maidservant male descendants.” The sages explained (Brachot 31B) that what she meant was, “He should not be tall or short, thin or fat, pale or red, [exceedingly] wise or foolish.” She wanted that the child should be moderate in all of his characteristics. Indeed, by nature, Samuel was mediocre, however, through tremendous toil, he reached the highest levels, “Moses and Aaron were among His priests and Samuel among those who invoke His name” (Psalms 99:6). Samuel was equal to Moses and Aaron [put together]!

On the other hand, the punishment of one who does not use his talents properly is very great. This can be learned from the episode that is brought down in the Talumd (Sanhedrin 68A), “It was taught that when Rabbi Eliezer became ill, Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues came to visit him, etc. He asked them, ‘Why did you come?’ 

They said to him, ‘We came to learn Torah.’ 

He said to them, ‘Why didn’t you come until now?’ 

They said to him, ‘We did not have any free time.’ 

He said to them, ‘I will be surprised if you will die a normal death.’ 

Rabbi Akiva said to him, ‘What will be mine?’ 

He said to him, ‘Yours will be harsher than theirs.’” 

Rashi explained, “‘Yours will be harsher than theirs’ – This is because your heart is as open as a grand hall [meaning, you have a great deal of potential]. If you would have served me [and been around me to absorb the Torah that I know], you would have learned a great deal of Torah.”

Rabbi Akiva was punished because, according to his high level, he did not serve his teacher adequately!

We see that every person is given tremendous strengths from Heaven in order to reach these high levels and he must take care to use them properly.

 

“Before a blind person you shall not place an obstacle.” (19:14)

“Before one who is blind [ignorant] about a certain matter you shall not give advice that is not fitting for him. Do not tell him, ‘Sell me your field and take a donkey in return’ and then trick him and take it from him.”
(Rashi)

Rabbi Yitzchak Zev of Brisk pointed out specifically based on the words of the sages that this prohibition is about offering a person advice that is not fitting “for him.” This means to say that one must be careful that the advice should be fitting, specifically, for the one who is seeking it. It is not enough that is should be appropriate in and of itself. Therefore, even if the one who is being asked has intentions that are for the sake of Heaven, he should only advise the one who is asking with what is proper and correct for him. 

Once, the principal of a respected institution came before him [Rabbi Yitzchak Zev of Brisk] in order to seek his advice as to whether he should give a certain person a position in his institution. The rabbi answered him that, indeed, that person was fit for the position. However, when that person who was spoken about came to him to ask if he should accept the position, he answered him negatively. 

The matter became known to the principal of the institution and he came before the rabbi. He expressed his surprise about the rabbi’s change of mind.

The rabbi answered him, “I did not change my mind. Rather, you asked if it would be good for your institution to have this man work for you. I answered your question that, indeed, it would be good. However, when that person asked my advice, he did not ask what would be good for the institution. Rather, he asked what would be good for him. I was obligated to give him advice that is fitting for him, which was not to accept the position…”

 

“The payment for a hired worker should not stay with you until the morning [overnight].” (19:13)

The verse says, “To You, Hashem, is kindness because You repay man according to his deeds” (Psalms 62:13). Rabbi Ezra Atya was puzzled about this. Kindness is a behavior that is beyond what is justly required. However, paying a person according to his deeds is justly required. It does not occur to a person to cheat a hired worker of his payment!

He answered this with a parable.

There was an incident with a farmer who worked his field. He worked very hard and toiled until his fruits ripened. He was joyous and happy because of them and he decided to set them aside for his revered king. He shouldered his basket and he went up to the royal palace with it. He stood before his king, he bowed and prostrated himself and declared that he brought the fruits of his harvest for his honorable king. The king was happy about his loving giving and his gift. He instructed that his basket be filled up with golden coins.

The farmer returned to his home happy and rejoicing. He told his wife about his luck, his wealth and also about how he saw the king, offered his gift and merited his recognition. Ultimately, he also became rich with a great deal of wealth. The woman, as it was her way, discussed this with her neighbor. The neighbor came to her husband and told him, “Look, our neighbor brought the first fruits of his harvest to the king and he became crowned with golden coins! Why are you sleeping? Load a sack with the fruits of your harvest and hurry to the palace!”

The husband took a sack of fruits on his shoulders and went to the palace. At the entrance, they asked him what he wanted. He informed them that he brought a sack of fruits and they directed him towards the kitchen of the palace. The official came and estimated their caliber. He weighed them and paid for them based on the market price and not even one cent more…

This is what it means when it says, “To You, Hashem, is kindness.” It is a special kindness that Hashem does with us when He gives us our reward. What is this kindness? “Because you pay each person according to his deeds” – You, Yourself! When the King pays, He gives thousands upon ten thousands instead of one. However, if it is given over to the officials to pay our reward, we will receive it in accordance with our deeds and nothing more.

With this, Rabbi Yehuda Tzedakah explained the verse, “Hashem will repay you for your deeds. You earnings will be complete [given] by Hashem the G-d of Israel” (Ruth 2:12). If Hashem will pay us for our deeds, then our earnings will be complete and saturated!
(Kol Yehudah)

“And you shall surely rebuke your fellow.” (19:17)

“This means even one hundred times.”
(Bava Metzia 31A)

All those who fulfill the commandment of “And you shall surely rebuke” and try to prevent their friends from transgressing commandments of the Torah should not weaken their efforts. They should not become discouraged if they see that their success does not come easily and that people do not listen to them. 

Certainly, this task is not easy at all. However, it would never occur to a store owner to become angry with or refuse to sell to a picky or stubborn customer or one who bargains a lot. Have you ever seen a store owner who hangs a sign on the door of his store that says, “We only sell to good customers and not to difficult customers…”? Certainly, in reality, there is no such store owner. 

A seller needs to be patient by nature and be able to overlook his own characteristics. He needs to know how to speak to the heart of the buyer and to coax him with soft words. If not, he will not be able to earn his bread.

A person who wants to coax his friend into fulfilling a commandment is similar to a store owner who wants to sell his merchandise. He also receives a reward and this reward for helping others do the commandments is very great. It is good if there are people who will accept what they say right away, such as the customers who come into the store and buy without bargaining. However, there are those who do not accept what they say and they are like the customers who are annoying and stubborn and to whom the merchandise does not look pleasant. They also bargain on the price a great deal. Those who give rebuke to others should know that they must also try to sell to them. Their reward is also set aside for them because, ultimately, these people will also buy something from the store.

Of course, it will not be pleasant for a person to give rebuke and to lecture when he sees that all that he is doing is in vain and that his words have landed on stubborn ears. However, a person like this needs to learn from what an apple seller does in the market. All day she stands on her feet next to baskets of apples and she calls out in a loud voice, “Cheap apples! Buy cheap apples!” 

A person went by and saw her standing there in that manner and her mouth did not stop screaming out and announcing her merchandise. However, during all of the time that he was looking at her, he did not approach her and she did not even sell one apple. Even so, she continued to announce, “Apples! Cheap apples!”

That person turned to her and said, “Tell me, please, I am standing here for a long time and listening to how you fill the marketplace with the sound of your voice and how you announce your merchandise with all of your strength. However, I did not see one person turn to you until now or buy from you with even one prutah [a coin of very small monetary value]. What purpose do your screams have? Aren’t you wasting away your energy in vain?”

The woman laughed and said, “What do I support myself with, if not for these apples? Every evening I return home, count the money that bought them and I find that there are a few prutahs left for a piece of bread and some kind of food. Of the one hundred people who pass by my basket, there is one who will turn and buy. Sometimes, it has even happened that one of ten will turn and buy from me. However, if I stop announcing my merchandise, who will know about me and the apples in my basket?”

The matter of rebuke is similar to this. A person who gives rebuke and lectures to another is fulfilling a great commandment and great reward is promised to him for this. It is possible that ninety nine people will not pay attention to him and his rebuke, will not listen to him and they may even mock him. However, if he will be successful in making even one person return to his good ways, this will be his great reward.

However, if a person is embarrassed and lazy to announce his merchandise loudly, then, certainly, no one will know about him. Where will his spiritual sustenance come from?!?
(Mishlei HaChafetz Chaim)


“And you shall love your fellow as yourself. I am Hashem.” (19:18)

When those who commit sins are rendered deserving of death by a panel of judges, they are still in the category of “your fellows,” as it is explained in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 22B). It speaks there about a person who is rendered deserving of death by a panel of judges, “Choose a nice death for him, as it says, ‘You shall love your fellow as yourself.’” We find that he has not left the category of “your fellow,” even though he is deserving of death.

However, this is hard to understand, since David said in Psalms (139:21), “Don’t I hate the ones who hate You, Hashem.” If so, when and towards whom is hate permitted?

Maimonides taught us this matter in “Hilchot Deiot” (6:8), “It is permitted to hate him if he did not accept rebuke after he was rebuked appropriately.” The sages said (Arachin 16A) that nowadays there is no one who knows how to rebuke properly. This means to say that already in the time of the sages of the Talmud two thousand years ago, there was no one who knew how to rebuke properly. We find that every person today falls into the category of one who was not yet rebuked, since there is no one to rebuke him. Therefore, he has not left the category of “your fellow,” according to the explanation of Maimonides (See the explanations of the Chazon Ish on the writing of Maimonides).

There was an incident with two friends who were loyal and faithful to one another, heart and soul. Once, some corrupted people accused one of the friends falsely. As a result, he was brought to court and was sentenced to death. The faithful friend did not suspend any effort and did all that he could to save his friend. However, all of his efforts resulted in nothing. When the last moment arrived and the accused was about to be brought up to the gallows, his friend could no longer control his emotions. He quickly ran to the location of the gallows and screamed out with all of his remaining energy, “Stop! Do not kill a person who is free of sin! I confess that I am the guilty one! It is me and not him! Bring me up to the gallows instead of him!”

When the accused saw that his friend was willing to give up his life for him, he also could not control his emotions. Even though until now he had not stopped denying his guilt, he replied and cried out in a strong voice, “Don’t believe him! He is only saying that with the intention of saving me! I am the guilty one! It is me and not him!” Immediately, great confusion began to take place there and, understandably, the sentence did not take effect.

The report of this matter hastily arrived before the king. He commanded that these two friends be brought before him immediately. He requested of them that they tell him the whole truth. The two of them told him that they are friends connected by their hearts and souls and each one wanted to save the life of his friend, even though both of them were free of sin.

These words touched the king’s heart deeply and he called out with excitement, “With your permission, I will pardon both of you. However, you must bring me into the covenant of your friendship! I have a strong desire to be the third person in your friendship…”

This is what the verse is referring to when it says, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself.” If you will love your fellow as much as you love yourself, then “‘I am Hashem’ - It is as if I am joining in to your holy friendship.
(Mipi HaShmua)

 







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