Food For the Soul
Friday, May 5 (14 Iyar) is The Second Passover
A year after the Exodus, G-d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering (a sacrificial lamb) on the afternoon of Nissan 14, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done on the previous year just before they left Egypt. “There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron … and they said: ‘…Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G-d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?'” (Numbers 9). In response to their plea, G-d established the 14th of Iyar as a “second Passover” (pesach sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.
According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, “the Previous Rebbe explained that Pesach Sheni teaches us that ‘Nothing is ever lost: it’s never too late!’ Our conduct can always be rectified. Even someone who is impure, who was far away and even desired to be so, can still correct himself.” There is no justification for despair. Every individual, no matter what his situation, always has the potential to make a “leap forward” (the literal translation of the Hebrew word pesach) in his service of G‑d.
For more information, visit Chabad.org
Parshah Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)
This Shabbat, we read from the Torah section of Emor (“Speak”). It begins with the special laws pertaining to The kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service. The second part of Emor lists the annual Callings of Holiness—the festivals of the Jewish calendar. Next, the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in the Temple and the showbread; (lechem hapanim) placed weekly on the table there. Emor concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).
For further information, visit Chabad.org
Mind Over Matter
Torah is the interface between the Infinite and creation.
On the outside, it speaks the language of humankind. On the inside, it is depth without end.
Grasp either end and you come up with nothing.
Grasp both and you have G‑d Himself.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Six days work shall be done, but the seventh day is shabbat shabbaton (a Sabbath of strict rest).” (Emor 23:3)
The Shabbat has two levels of holiness, indicated by the expression shabbat shabbaton. The term shabbat relates to cessation of work. Shabbaton, on the other hand, is an additional, more sublime level: the complete inner peace which transcends mere cessation from work. This level, too, derives from the six days of work, for it follows as a result from the “work” of one’s good deeds throughout the week. The same applies to the redemption. The six millennia of service prepare not only for the first stage of the Messianic era (the passive level of shabbat which relates to “evil being subdued and ceasing its opposition to goodness”), but also its final stage of shabbaton-when the spirit of impurity will be “removed from the earth” (Zechariah 13.2) altogether and forever… Thus, “Six days work shall be done” to prepare the world for the redemption-for the “seventh day”-the highest stage of shabbat shabbaton!
From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
Can I Have Some Food, Please?
Some kids are into candy, others like chocolates, but when my sister was a little girl, all she ever wanted was marble cake. Our parents were generous with their treats, but it’s not healthy for a child to forswear vegetables and meat for empty carbohydrates, so they rationed her indulgences and only doled out her favourite snack for special occasions. It quickly became a regular game in our household: my mother would bake a cake for Shabbat and hide it somewhere around the house, and my sister would find it and eat as much as she could, as quickly as possible, before being caught and, inevitably, rebuked.
One time they left me babysitting while the rest of the family was out of the house. Before she left, my mom warned my sister: “You’re not to take any marble cake without asking.” Unfortunately, I got caught up in a good book and wasn’t paying due attention to my duties. It was only some 20 minutes later when I became conscious of the fact that the house had been too quiet for a while. I wandered into the kitchen and saw a half-empty cake pan on the countertop, with a begrimed and be-crumbed little girl teetering on a chair in front, carving out her 5th or 6th huge chunk of cake. When I challenged her, she swore she hadn’t done anything wrong. “Mummy said I wasn’t allowed to have any more without asking, and before I took each piece I asked G‑d if I could have it!”
Was my sister’s self-serving rationale any more ridiculous than what we all do on a daily basis? The stated reason for reciting a blessing before indulging is that all food belongs to G‑d and that partaking of His bounty without requesting permission is analogous to stealing.
But you’ve got to ask, what does your blessing really accomplish? So you said a blessing and asked G‑d for some of His food—did you get an answer? Isn’t it still His, no matter how nicely you asked? What does muttering a few Hebrew words before partaking really accomplish?
The book of Leviticus discusses the privileges and responsibilities of the Priesthood. Kohanim (priests) are special, public servants. As such, they’re supported off the public purse and enjoy a varied menu of public hand-outs and private donations. While some of these gifts may be shared with whomsoever the kohen wishes, most of them are considered holy, and are restricted to kohanim and their immediate families. No matter how religious or holy I am, or how friendly I get with my neighbouring kohen, he’s not allowed to invite me over to share his food.
The exclusion to this exclusivity is the servants belonging to the kohen. Even though they are not of priestly stock and in fact, they’re not even Jewish; they get dragged in on their master’s coattails and get to partake of all the holiness—while the rest of us Jews stand outside looking in. How extraordinary a concept; the food and offerings might be intrinsically holy, but since a master has responsibility to feed his own servants, they can partake of his pleasures.
And that’s one of the reasons why we recite blessings before eating. When we say a blessing we announce “Adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam…“”G‑d is our G‑d, King of the universe.” We’re His servants. He made us. We belong to Him. A blessing is not just a mealy-mouthed request for indulgence, but an acknowledgement that we and everything we own belong to Him. When we submit to G‑d’s authority and accept Him as our lord and master, then we know that we have His permission to enjoy the fruits of this world—and even to come back for second helpings of holiness.
Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum