Friday, March 19, 2021

Do you hear the call?

We begin this week not only a new parsha but a new sefer as we begin to read from the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus). It opens up with the words “Vayikra el Moshe” or “ And He Called to Moshe”. Many of the commentaries have pointed out that though it’s obvious from the text that it’s G-d that called out to Moshe, it doesn’t explicitly say so as it typically does in other textual settings. The Nesivos Shalom quotes the Midrash that there is a heavenly voice that emanates from Mount Sinai on a daily basis and exhorts the Jewish people to repentance. He questions this by asking why can’t we hear this voice that’s emanating from Sinai and if we can’t hear it what’s the point of it being declared? He writes the following profound idea. There is a spiritual energy being released in the world on a daily basis. Some of us make the choice to capitalize on these sparks and internalize them into our soul. This enables us to embark on a journey on self-improvement in this world and allows our soul to connect to G-d in this finite and temporary world through meaningful Torah study, heartfelt prayer, and practicing acts of kindness. Some of us take a look at these spiritual sparks and even experience the spiritual energy that originates from Sinai and just take a pass for whatever reason. Then their souls lie dormant and become atrophied and dehydrated. Unfortunately, this can lead someone to feel that his life has no meaning or purpose. Can anyone say mid-life crisis? That is our challenge. The voice is calling each and every one of us. The only question is, who is going to answer the call? Have a Wonderful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

Friday, March 5, 2021

Part of a Bigger Whole

The ancient method of conducting a census was rather strange. Instead of counting heads or writing down the names of all people that were eligible to be counted, there was another unobvious method that carried by our ancestors in the desert after they left Egypt. As our Parsha teaches us, they were told to bring forward a half-shekel coin and contribute that into the public coffers. The amount of the coins contributed would reflect the number of people that needed to be counted. The question still remains to be asked as to why everyone was asked to contribute a half-shekel and not a complete shekel? There are many different answers to this question, and I want to suggest an approach I heard a while back. There are many different ways and paths within the parameters of Halacha of service to G-d. While many people walk down different paths, some prefer to emphasize their personal service or niche in one area more than another. Some areas that I referring to but obviously are not limited to include the study of Torah, prayer, practicing kindness, love of Israel, Kabbalah, Tikkun Olam, etc. We sometimes tend to get so preoccupied in our personal avoda/service that we might not appreciate what others are doing for the Jewish people and bring us closer to G-d. The Half- Shekel lesson teaches us that we are not alone in our service and relationship to G-d but rather part of a greater whole. While it may be wonderful that you are diligent and even excel at what you are doing to help the Jewish People, please remember that others focus on a different task on assisting Klal Yisrael. Just because they are not practicing the same task does not mean there should not be a recognition that we are just part of a greater whole of the Jewish people. For example, in an ideal world, the yeshiva students who are the spiritual guardians with their study of the Torah would be respecting the soldiers of the IDF who are are the physical guardians of the Jewish state. The opposite should be true as well. Sadly, that is not the case. Each side doesn’t recognize the achievement of the other. The lesson of the Half Shekel is more timeless than ever in reminding us that we are just part of a greater bigger picture.

My Heart Is In The East

דרש רבי שמלאי מפני מה נתאוה משה רבינו ליכנס לא"י וכי לאכול מפריה הוא צריך או לשבוע מטובה הוא צריך אלא כך אמר משה הרבה מצות נצטוו ישראל ...