Food For the Soul
Can You Wait?
There is an interesting agricultural mitzvah called orlah. The commandment states that when we plant a tree, we are prohibited to eat its fruit for the first three years. Once this time has passed, we are free to enjoy the fruit and thank G-d for the blessings He has given us. There is a mystical explanation of the mitzvah that provides an insight into one of the foundations of personal and spiritual growth.
The very first failing of the very first human beings was the desire for instant gratification. The first transgression recorded in the Torah is when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit. Although this story is famous, what is not so well known is that the fruit of the forbidden tree was not intended to be eternally prohibited. Adam and Eve were created on Friday afternoon. They were instructed not to eat the fruit for only three hours, until Shabbat. Once Friday night had arrived, the fruit would have been theirs to enjoy. They lacked the self-control to delay that pleasure. The three years that we wait before eating fruit of any tree is a reminder of the three hours that Adam and Eve did not wait to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
The delicacies of the world were given to us to enjoy. But self-control and discipline remind us that there is more to life than just eating delicious fruit. Creating boundaries around our indulgences helps create a focus and consciousness that there is a bigger picture. Enjoying life’s blessings is just a small part of an existence also filled with meaning, values and a higher purpose. Greed, lack of control, the need for instant gratification and hedonism are destructive, and create empty lives and purposeless existence.
The delicious fruit trees are G-d’s gift to us. But the commandment to wait three years before enjoying them is an even greater gift, the gift of discipline and self-control.
Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Count “Twenty-Eight Days to the Omer” Tonight
Tomorrow is the twenty-eighth day of the Omer Count. Since, on the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall on 12 Iyar, 5782 (Friday, May 13, 2022) we count the omer for tomorrow’s date tonight, after nightfall. The 49-day “Counting of the Omer” retraces our ancestors’ seven-week spiritual journey from the Exodus to Sinai.
Each evening we recite a special blessing and count the days and weeks that have passed since the Omer; the 50th day is Shavuot the festival celebrating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai.
Mind Over Matter
Tonight’s Sefirah: Malchut sheb’Netzach — “Receptiveness in Ambition”
The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are seven “Divine Attributes” — Sefirot — that G-d assumes through which to relate to our existence: Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut (“Love”, “Strength”, “Beauty”, “Victory”, “Splendor”, “Foundation” and “Sovereignty”). In the human being, created in the “image of G-d,” the seven sefirot are mirrored in the seven “emotional attributes” of the human soul: Kindness, Restraint, Harmony, Ambition, Humility, Connection and Receptiveness. Each of the seven attributes contain elements of all seven–i.e., “Kindness in Kindness”, “Restraint in Kindness”, “Harmony in Kindness”, etc.–making for a total of forty-nine traits. The 49-day Omer Count is thus a 49-step process of self-refinement, with each day devoted to the “rectification” and perfection of one the forty-nine “sefirot.”
“Do not desecrate My holy Name, but I shall be sanctified among the children of Israel” (Emor 22:32)
There are conditions when a Jew must do everything, including self-sacrifice, for the observance of Torah, for thereby he sanctifies G-d’s Name. Just as kidush Hashem is the supreme virtue, so, too, there is nothing worse than chilul Hashem. The prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel) refers to the fact of galut (exile) as a chilul Hashem: “When they entered the nations into which they came, they desecrated My holy Name when it was said of them ‘These are G-d’s people yet they had to leave His land!’” (Ezekiel 36:20). In turn, the redemption is a kidush Hashem, as it is said, “I shall sanctify My great Name which was desecrated among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations will know that I am G-d… when I will be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:23). The very study and preoccupation with the laws of kidush Hashem in itself will end the chilul Hashem of the galut, and bring about the ultimate kidush Hashem signified by the Messianic redemption!
Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
A Story to Tell Your Children
Jeff was doing his homework when the doorbell rang. It was Josh, his neighbor. “Hello, Jeff,” said Josh, “I was wondering if I could borrow your bike for a short while. My mother needs some milk from the store and my bike has a flat tire.”
“Sure,” replied Jeff, “Please wait a minute and I’ll give it to you. I just want to finish the sentence I was in the middle of writing.”
Josh winced. “I could take it myself,” he said softly. He had seen the bike propped up against the side entrance and it was unchained. If Jeff heard him, he showed no sign of it. In a few minutes, he closed his notebook and went out with Josh. He steered his bike around to face the street. “Here, Josh, you’re welcome to use my bike.”
Is there a better way for Jeff to share what he has with others?
We can help him by pointing out a commandment in the Parsha Emor. Among the many commandments in Emor is the commandments of giving charity from the produce in the field. The Torah teaches us that when a Jew reaps the harvest of his field, he should leave a corner untouched. When he ties the sheaves of grain into bundles, he should leave the few that fall. And when he collects the bundles, if a bundle is forgotten, he should leave that, too. This is all left for poor people to come and gather.
But actually, the Torah has already told us about these commandments in the Parsha Kedoshim. Why are they repeated here?
Our sages teach us that mentioning them here helps us learn more about how to fulfill them. In the previous Parsha, we learned that we must leave part of the harvest in the field for poor people. In Emor, we learn something new. From the words, “You shall leave them for the poor person and the stranger,” we learn that a person should not go out and give the forgotten bundle or fallen sheaves to the poor person. He should allow the poor person to enter his field and collect it by himself.
Why? Wouldn’t it be nice to go out there and help the poor people by handing them the produce?
Sure, it’s nice – but for whom? How do you think Jeff felt when he handed Josh his bike? Jeff probably felt good, because it makes a person feel proud of himself when he gives to others. But how did Josh feel? Wouldn’t he have felt more comfortable if he had been allowed to take the bike himself?
The Torah is teaching us that the proper way to fulfill a good deed is to share with others wholeheartedly, thinking about the poor person’s feelings and not about our own desire to feel good.
Adapted from the writings of Rebbetzin Malka Touger