Call Us: +1 (514) 342-4969

  • B"H

The Weekly Share – 16 Adar 2

The Weekly Share – 16 Adar 2

Food For the Soul

Staying on Top

The title word of the Parshah, Tzav, means “Command.” It introduces G-d’s call to Moses to instruct the Kohanim (priests) about the laws of the burnt offerings in the Sanctuary. Rashi points out that the word Tzav, “Command” – rather than the more familiar and softer “Speak” or “Tell” – is generally reserved for instructions which require a sense of zealousness. These are things which need to be performed “immediately as well as for posterity.” Why employ a word implying such urgency?

Says Rashi: it’s not only the need for immediacy but also the insistence that the services carry on throughout the generations in the very same way. It is one thing to be committed and excited now when the mitzvah is still fresh and new, but what will happen in future? Will that same commitment still be there down the line, or will the enthusiasm have waned?

In the sporting arena there are athletes, and even teams, who make wonderful starts but then fade before the finish or “choke” at the very end. One cannot achieve greatness by erratic bursts of energy. Concentration and consistency are needed to carry us through until the final moment of the match.  And it is no different in Judaism. Lots of Jews are excellent at Yom Kippur. But what happens all year round? Many have moments of inspiration, but it is allowed to become a passing phase.

A fellow came to Shul to recite kaddish in memory of a parent, but sadly the congregation were struggling to make a minyan (quorum of ten for prayer). He vented his anger at not being able to recite the prayer. One of the men present was less than sympathetic. “And where were you yesterday when someone else needed to say kaddish and there wasn’t a minyan?” he retorted. Many people make the effort to attend services on the anniversary of a parent’s passing, but stay away on “regular” days. 

We cannot necessarily afford the luxury of focusing only on the parts of life we enjoy and are stimulated by. More often than not life is a grind. Moments of excitement and discovery are rare. Our creations need long term, consistent maintenance, otherwise they collapse. The command to the Kohanim echoes down the ages to each of us. If it is important, do it now. And if it is sacred, carry on doing it forever. 

Edited from an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman

Shabbat Shalom

The Rebuilding of the Jerusalem Wall

This Shabbat (16 Adar) marks the day in Jewish history when the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Wall commenced (c. 41 CE). Agrippa I, appointed by the Roman Emperor to rule over Judea, was pious and kind to his subjects. During his reign, the Jews began to prosper and live comfortably. The Sages of the time accorded him great respect.

Agrippa I started construction to repair, broaden and heighten the walls around Jerusalem. The Romans, wary of the Jews’ rising prosperity, placed many obstacles in his way. Nonetheless, the wall was completed, though the finished product was not as magnificent as originally planned.

Mind Over Matter

Give A Little Push

The Talmud relates a story of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa who saw a huge stone, which he wanted to donate to the Temple. The stone was too big for him to move by himself and he could not afford to hire laborers to help him to move it. He saw a vision in which G-d told him: Push it with your little finger. Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa pushed the stone and he saw angels who helped him to move it to the Temple. 

This story teaches us to remember that all G-d is asking from us is that we push with our little finger. We have the ability to tap into the infinite, we just have to “open the door” and do our best. When we do, we will find ourselves succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. With the help from Above, we are able to accomplish far more than we ever could by ourselves. However, we have to make that first move. 

From an article by Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg

Moshiach Thoughts


Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet wrote: “The recitation and study of the teachings of sacrifices, like their actual offerings, effect not only personal atonement, but also elicit the presence of the Shechinah upon the individual involved in that recitation, and also upon the very place of the Holy Temple, just as when it existed physically in our midst…Each one, therefore, must realize the tremendous responsibility of his or her service of G-d with Torah and mitzvot. Every individual’s effort and contribution in Torah and prayer has an inestimable positive effect for the whole world. Thus it hastens the time when we shall again be able to offer sacrifices “in accordance with Your (G-d’s) Will”-in the third Beit Hamikdash which will descend from Heaven and become revealed to us with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our own days, very soon indeed.” 

Rabbi Michael Chighel notes that “by using the word sacrifice, the English language stresses what is lost; given up in the korbanot. But this is just a side-effect of the korban. The essence of the korban, which is expressed in Hebrew, is drawing near to G-d.”

Have I Got A Story

Extinguishing the “No”

Oftentimes, a small lesson can become a giant paradigm shift. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi shared one such lesson that he’d learned from his master, the saintly Maggid of Mezeritch, based on the verse: “A constant fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it shall not be extinguished.” 

To bring an offering on the altar is insufficient, taught the Maggid. One needs to kindle a fire under the offering. And this fire will extinguish negativity. Lo tichbeh, which literally means “it shall not be extinguished,” was interpreted by the Maggid to read: “shall extinguish (tichbeh) the ‘no’ (lo)”—the negative.

Kabbalah explains that every person has a microcosmic altar upon which they make sacrifices for G-d. But sacrifice itself is insufficient without fire. Discipline and commitment to self-growth, but without love, is inert. And so, the Torah advises us to keep a fire constantly burning on the altar. The fire fueling the altar is so potent that it will raze any elements that may stand in its way. Passion has a way of dissolving problems. If you’re focused on loving G-d then you won’t need to focus that much on your character flaws and imperfections. 

This concept reminds me of the story where the wind and the sun once competed to make the lonely man take off his jacket. The wind blew fiercely, but the man only clung to his jacket with more intensity. But then the sun began to project its warmth, and the man naturally removed his jacket. Keep a constant fire burning on your altar, and lo tichbeh—the “no” will be extinguished; this vital paradigm shift was popularized by the chassidic masters.

There are two ways to deal with our inner demons and dysfunctions. The first, and most natural, would be to fight back. To criticize ourselves for our inadequacies and mistakes, and try to scare them from reappearing. But sometimes this head-on approach can work to our disadvantage, and the frustration that we invest in criticizing our character flaw will only aggravate it.

The second approach works by first generating a passion: a passion for G-d and for spiritual development. With passionate energy circulating, there’s less energy to be had for dysfunctional tendencies and less focus put on them. When you love life, you’re less likely to feel slighted or to be weighed down by your inadequacies. When you love your spouse, you’re less likely to be enraged by his or her flaws. At times, words of affection can be a more effective catalyst for change than scrutinizing the problems in a relationship. A teenager whose vivacity is channeled through noble pursuits may not fight to break rules.

Lo tichbeh—the negative becomes extinguished.

The Maggid also taught Rabbi Schneur Zalman about G-d’s reaction to our self-generated fire. “Man’s action is an ‘awakening from below,’ which engenders an ‘awakening from Above.’ Our fire and passion attracts G-d’s fire, for the nature of spirit is that ‘spirit elicits spirit … ’ ” Moses and Aaron knew this secret as well. They understood that for G-d to dwell in the Tabernacle, the nation needed cleansing from the lingering impurity that remained from the sin of the golden calf. However, instead of demanding more repentance and self-scrutiny, for seven days Moses taught the Jews how to intensify their passionate devotion towards G-d. For seven days Moses erected the Tabernacle and set everything in place—but G-d’s fire, the manifestation of His Shechinah (Presence), was conspicuously absent. Each day Moses lit a fire on the altar, building up the intensity of the collective love of the people, so that it would work its wonder and burn away any residue of sin, “extinguish the no.” Finally, on the eighth day, their love was so fierce that their environment had become completely cleansed and purified. A fire from heaven then descended upon the altar: G-d had finally rested intimately with them. Now the Tabernacle would be eternally holy.

In our own personal Tabernacle, things operate in quite a similar fashion. We can erect walls and prepare vessels, but our personal flaws can seem to block our sense of G-d’s presence in our life. The solution taught by Moses is to intensify the fire under the altar, to refuel and strengthen our love for G-d. Heat is the most powerful cleansing agent and will naturally dissolve any negative energy in our environment. And G-d is exceedingly attracted to our love and will always match it with a fire of His own.  And so sometimes, it’s about working smarter, not harder. Turn up your fire, says the Maggid, and your inner demons may just sizzle away. 

Rochel Holzkenner 

Share it on
Become a Volunteer ouDonate