Friday, May 30, 2008

BAMIDBAR: OVEREXPOSED

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Bamidbar, the name of this week's parsha, means, "in the wilderness." What is the difference between the rugged wilderness and the serpentine alleyways of the city? Exposure.

Military doctrine shifts radically owing to the marked contrasts between open spaces and crowded marketplaces. So too, in the war between light and darkness, between sin and salvation, we must be ever conscious of the shifts in terrain.

This concept of exposure cuts to the very heart of what it means to be holy. The concept of exposure is symbolic of revelation, symbolizing those acts which can be publicly witnessed. Tradition at times valorizes revelation. At other times it valorizes hiddenness.

Shavuot, coming soon, celebrates the public revelation by G*d of this holiness. Ironically, this holiness best becomes manifest on man's part only by discretion and hiddenness. By not looking. By averting one's eyes.

The last verse of the sedrah (NUM 4:21) reads,

"...ve lo yavo'u lirot k'vala et ha kodesh va meitu."

This pasook is very difficult to translate. While the Targum translates "vala" as "packing," this is difficult because in both modern and ancient Hebrew vala means "swallowing." In the Book of Jonah, which we read on Yom Kippur, the text states that "the Lord made a great fish to swallow (li'VLoA) Jonah."

The verse, then, comes to be understood as "(the Kehothites -non-kohanim) will then not come and see the KODESH being packed (swallowed), and they will not die."

Now what was this "KODESH?" Was it holy Tabernacle furniture that was stuffed into special kohanic valises? Or was it some kind of sacred shamanistic ether from the Divine Cloud (KODESH) which the priests were inhaling or somehow swallowing, perhaps to help counteract their withdrawal symptoms induced by their being apart from the euphoric contact with the Shekhina (Divine Presence) in the Tabernacle? The text isn't clear. And while it may be somewhat more faithful to the plain meaning of the text we can't really apply it to our lives today.

I think the deepest meaning is this, however. By linking the notions of swallowing and holiness, the Torah is expressing the idea that true holiness is something internal, not something externalized or put on for a show for others to see. True Divine service is performed under the radar, so to speak, beyond the visual screen.

So to rephrase the question, why would the Kehothite's SEEING it be forbidden? It seems that the priestly duties were viewed as a sacred task. But the *viewing* of this process by *others* would not be a good thing.

This notion of holy discretion applies in many areas that have the potential to infuse holiness into them. For example, lehavdil, the kedusha, or sancity of the marital act is valorized and sanctified by Judaism as a sacred and holy act when performed in the utmost privacy of the nuptial chamber. But when viewed by others it becomes degraded as the unclean depravities of
the cult prostitute/priestess- the kedeisha. Its holy nature was removed by the aspect of its public viewing.

We expose neither the marital act nor the deceased to public viewing. We revere their sanctity. Kedusha (holiness) and Kedeisha (cult prostitute/priestess) have almost the same letters. Only their vocalization is different. In fact, the term for nuptials in Judaism is called kiddusheen. Both acts are similar but their contexts are radically different. One is intensely private. The other is intensely public. One is purposely viewed by others. The other can never be.

So too, when giving tzedaka (alms), we could be performing a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the Name) or a Chilul Hashem (desecration of the Name) by yet performing the very same act.
When we walk down the street, the halacha (Jewish law) is to walk with our hands in our pockets (unless one talks with one's hands) so as to quickly and surreptitiously give tzedaka in the most private and holy way. But when we have to stop and take out our wallets or fumble through our purses we inevitably make a big show, thereby causing unflattering attention to the holy beggar's (Elijah the Prophet?) dire need for help.

And when we give a large donation, the Rambam teaches that it's much more exemplary to give in a hidden way, not drawing attention to ourselves in the process. And can we swallow a secret and not pass it on? It's the hardest thing in the world to keep it private. But privacy is the key to true holiness.

The holy lamed vavniks, the thirty six righteous people upon whose merit it is taught that the world continues to exist, are considered righteous only by virtue of the utterly secret nature of their sublime status. They have to leave town once their identity becomes known.

And Bilaam blesses Israel upon witnessing the discreet array of their domiciles. Rashi explains that the doors and windows of the homes of the Israelites never faced into those of the neighbors. Privacy and discretion were assured. "Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov, Mishkenotecha Yisrael. How Goodly are Thy Tents Oh Jacob, Thy dwelling Places Oh Israel," says Bilaam.

Discretion, then, is seen as a path to the Divine. It feels good to have discretionary income, as much as it benefits us to maintain our discretion with respect to our fulfilling our heavenly mandate. Therefore Rechilut and Lashon Harah (talebearing and slander) represent the very opposite of discretion and bring harm to those who indulge in it and cause harm to the entire community. Curses for blessings.

Often those who make the biggest show of their righteousness have the least reward for their efforts.

For in the end,

if not in this world then in the next,

those secret acts of kindness,

will be revealed for all to see,

as much as will our secret sins,

hidden though they be.

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of fulsome silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UESDNATNRD

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.
Cna yuo raed
tihs? i cdnuolt blveiee
taht I cluod
aulaclty
uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The
phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, anocdricg to
a rscheearecr at
Cmgarbide Uvinertisy, it dnose't
mtaetr in waht oerdr the lterets in a wrod are,
the olny irpoamtnt
tnihg
is taht the fsrit and lsat
lteetr be in the rhgit pclae.
The rset can be a ttaol mses.
Teh msot irpoamtnt tnihg is to konw
taht G*d leovs you and blveiees in you
and taht you sluohd nveer eevr gvie up!

Friday, May 23, 2008

BECHUKOTAI: AN ACCIDENTAL LIFE

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


The secrets for a successful marriage are found in this week's sedra, Bechukotai. It is also referred to as the "tochecha," or The Great Reproof. Hidden within its dire portents of doom are also the dire secrets of life. The antidote is provided along with the warning. The contraindications are listed on the label.

Whether concerning our Divine Spouse (G*d), or our mortal spouses (spice?), if you want your spouse to love you, then you must not take him or her for granted. You must not be "casual" with the relationship. You must not forget birthdays or anniversaries. That is the necessary spice of the marriage.

The word for casual, "keri," appears many times throughout the parsha. Keri, related to the word "mikreh,"in modern Hebrew, connotes a chance, or accidental occurrence, or something
that just "happened." In modern Hebraic parlance we say "mah karah?" for "what happened?" In other words, being accidental in nature, conscious planning or premeditated forethought was not involved. Similarly, G*d is seen as Israel's spouse. According to our tradition, our engagement took place at Pesach, and our wedding took place at Sinai, on Shavuoth. But our anniversary with G*d is not celebrated but once a year. It is celebrated every Shabbat!

Every Shabbat at the kiddush we recall the Exodus from Egypt - yetziat mitzrayim (our Jewish anniversary), as well as the Creation of the World - yetzirat ha'olam (our human anniversary). This is borne out in the text by two remarkable hints. One is that the word "keri," quite remarkably, is mentioned seven times in this one section, echoing the proverbial seven "days" of creation (yom, usually meaning "day" in Hebrew, also refers to any time period in Hebrew, not necessarily the 24 hour day that literalists refer to in mistranslation).

The other hint is that the repercussions of relating to G*d so casually are sevenfold in nature. When we make kiddush on the wine, not only do we remember our actual leaving Egypt, but symbolically we affirm the presence of G*d in history!

Repercussions signify accountability, which in turn signifies morality, which in turn signifies the notion of Divine Providence via the theophonic act of Revealing the Torah to man (male energy) and man's Receiving (female energy). So in keeping the Sabbath we are actually celebrating our G*d anniversary. Shavuoth is the celebration of the macro-UR G*d anniversary and Shabbat is the micro G*d anniversary within the G*d anniversary.

Just as we have seven weeks in the counting of the omer leading up to Shavuoth which reflect the kabbalistic sephiroth/energy emanations of the G*dhead, we also have sephiroth within
the sephiroth which identify their multi-dimensional permutations. This week's sephirah is hod, meaning Distinctive Beauty.

But we should never become so self-absorbed, even in the distinctive beauty of a mitzvah, that we forget that we're honoring G*d in the process. If I sleep or eat on Shabbos that's very beautiful, but if I sleep or eat BECAUSE it's Shabbos, that's one of the highest ways to honor G*d, and we reap the rewards seven times over- lasting through each day of the week.

Sleep allows our subconscious to connect with its Divine source. Sleeping with intention honors that Divine source. Sheynah, meaning sleep in Hebrew, is connected to both the word for new change (shinooy) and the word for old change (yashan). Sleep is thus the fulcrum between the old which came before, laden with so many missed opportunities, and a new dawn that promises a fresh opportunity to change for the better. But the secret is in knowing how to be awake when awake and consciously mindful of the Divine Presence all around us each day.

Is our existence at all a mere cosmic accident or a result of conscious Divine intention and Divine Will? If we treat our life as an accident of cosmic happenstance and thus bring that energy into our relationships, we will find our lives full of accidents. But if we tap into the Torah's wisdom as the blueprint for intentional living along a Divine latticework, we shall mine a rich world of rewarding relationships.

Now our Divine relationship with G*d is likewise a template for all successful human relations. We should honor and love our spouses at least as much as we love ourselves. We shouldn't take our spouses for granted if we ourselves don't wish to be taken for granted.

Similarly, we should never take G*d for granted. If we do, then a great unraveling occurs- we begin to take first our spouses, then our friends, then even ourselves and our holy neshamas (souls) for granted. Don't blame G*d. He is a loving and compassionate G*d, the source for all compassion. Tap into G*d and tap into Compassion. He wouldn't be punishing us sevenfold or even one-fold. We'd be doing it to ourselves! It begins with me. Here. Today. Now. "If not me, then who? If not now, then when?"

Shabbat Shalom.

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of fulsome silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

LAG BA'OMER; LIFTING THE VEIL OF SADNESS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Tonight is Lag Ba'Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer (sefirat ha'omer). From Pesach to Shavuos we are fixing the spiritual vessels of redemption. Each day of the forty nine days of the counting corresponds to one of the forty nine levels of tumah, or spiritual impurity, which we had collectively contracted in Mitzrayim (Egypt). By distinguishing and counting each day consciously, we are healing and repairing the spiritual damage wrought by our collectively sinking to that level of spiritual impurity of Egypt's hedonistic, idolatrous and morally bereft society.

As the holy Zohar says, we were thrust out of Egypt by the Holy One Blessed Be He (HaKadosh Baruch Hu) before we had passed that point of no return, before we had sunk down to that 50th level. Had we indeed waited for that proverbial bread to rise we would today still be waiting for it in Egypt.

Each of the seven weeks corresponds to one of the lower seven Kabbalistic sefiroth: Hesed, Gevurah, Tifereth, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut. And each of the seven days within each of the seven weeks is a fixing for that particular sefirah of its own seven-within-seven permutation. So we count "chesed she'be'chesed"the first night, "gevurah she'be'chesed" the second night, etc.

And from after Pesach until the 33rd day of the counting, we observe Days of Sadness, a period of semi-mourning. We traditionally refrain from public entertainment and musical concerts, and we do not cut our hair during this period. Why? Because the Talmud explains that the zugot, the 12,000 pairs of students in the academy of Rabbi Akiva died in a great plague. Can you imagine the profound tragedy of our loss as a people? 24,000 future teachers. 24,000 future leaders who could give over the secrets of living. Of what it means to be Jewish.

We attempt to make sense of and ascribe meaning to life's tragedies. Likewise, the rabbis in the Talmud go on to say that they perhaps died because they didn't give enough kavod, or respect, to each other's opinions. Now who can even begin to speak with any certainty as to why any tragedy happens!

But the tradition wishes to instill within us a very deep message: that as a people we we can only begin to heal when we really start listening to one another. Deeply listening. It is not saying we must necessarily agree with each other, only that we must have the eyes to see how G*d's Light shines from within each one of us. If only our leaders would only inculcate this primary value from the top down, GEVALT what an awesome healing would take place! Until then we must work from the bottom up.

Two wonderful events took place which cause us on this date to lift this Veil of Sadness. The first was the lifting of the plague, as recorded in Sefer HaManhig, which quotes Rabbi Zecharyah HaLevi who said that he found an old manuscript brought from Spain in which it was recorded that the disciples of Rabbi Akiva died in a plague from Pesach until half a month before Shavuoth, i.e., Lag Ba'Omer.

And the second was the yahrzeit, or the hillula- the public celebration of the yahrzeit, of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who was, according to tradition, the author of the holy Zohar. In Jewish tradition, the yahrzeit is actually not a day of sadness, but is actually one of joy and celebration, because the soul is said to ascend up to a higher level on that day. Both events were associated with Lag Ba'Omer!

The Kabbalistic permutation which we count that day is HOD she'be'HOD, meaning "Distinctive Beauty which in enveloped within Distinctive Beauty." That is, we only distinguish and beautify ourselves as a people when we give honor or kavod to one another. And we distinguish and beautify ourselves as people, when we see our primary task in life as growing and ascending, and helping our friends to grow and ascend, to ever higher spiritual levels. And we do that best by modeling it for others to emulate. There are beauty models, and INNER beauty models. Which are you? Won't you join me in lifting off the veil?

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of fulsome silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

Friday, May 16, 2008

BEHAR: CHILDVISION

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Spending feels good. Whether spending money at the mall or time with one's friends, it is a welcome form of release.

In the Jubilee year all originally designated properties were to be released back to G*d, reverting back to their G*d designated tribal-based owners, regardless of intervening economic happenstance.

There are many levels of reading text. There is the plain meaning, the symbolic meaning, the homiletical meaning and the mystical, esoteric meaning.

The word "Jubilee" in hebrew is yovel. Livlot, in Hebrew, means "to spend," as in money or time. YoVeL means "G*d spends." The earth is His property, He can assign it or re-assign it to whomever He sees fit. G*d "owns the deed," so to speak, for nations, tribes, and even individuals. G*d is the ultimate owner of the land; we are merely its stewards. Like people, G-d feels good when he spends. And His credit ain't so bad either.

After seven seven-year cycles of Shemittah, of giving the land to an opportunity to rest, on the fiftieth year we have a super-shemittah year - a Jubilee year. We still observe the Shemittah year in Israel, but do we still observe the Jubilee year today?

The Talmud (BT Aruchin 32b) states "...deTanya, misheGalu Shevet Reuven veShevet Gad veChatzi Shevet haMenashe bitlu yov'lot,"

which means " ...as we learned in a baraita (outside the canon of the Mishna), from the time when the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe were exiled (721 BCE), the (observance of) the Jubilee Years were anulled." I would say that's a pretty long time ago. It hasn't been observed for over 2700 years!

But the Torah is eternal and so even if the observance of the Jubilee Year is anulled, it is incumbent for us to try and make it relevant for our own day, perhaps in a different way.

"Behar" could be read as meaning " two mountains (bet=2 har)," for the Two Torahs- the Oral Torah and the Written Torah; alternatively as two parents-a mother and father- the father who corresponds to the Written Torah, with its overtones of strictness, and the mother, who corresponds to the Oral Torah's compassionate softening of the Law's literal meaning.

In verse 25:10, the text states "veshavtem ish el achuzato, and each man shall return to his heriditary property (achuza)."

And the Torah is suggesting to us, that from this perspective, we should re-imagine ourselves as young children, gazing up at the towering mountain-like influence of our parents. Further, leACHoZ, to "take hold," bespeaks a child-like imagery.

Children are usually seen as grabbing. But that is a misunderstanding. It's simply not true. Very young children (babies) just want to merge with everything around them. There is no "other" with a young baby. The baby puts everything in her mouth because she simply wants to merge with the whole world. It's not an ego thing for a baby. It's just the opposite. All borders are blurred- not because I don't want to see a border. There's simply a sense that all is of the same Divine unity.

On the deepest level the baby knows that everything is connected. Our task, the Torah seems to be telling us, is to recharge ourselves, to view life again from the perspective of an infant, and to know that G*d will meet all our needs for us. Some of us resent G*d because our parents may not have met all our needs for us.

In the shemittah year we let go of the land and let it rest and return to its own child-like, unrestricted, unpruned, untrained natural state of being. And on the Jubilee, the land itself lets go of its anthrocentric human-decreed owners and returns to its G*d-decreed state.

This reflects the double meaning of what shabbat means to us - as both well-resting and returning. That is why the word shavtem in verse 10 above is in the plural form even though it seems to be qualifying the word ish (man) which remains in the singular.

On the plain, or peshat level of meaning this makes no sense without this deeper understanding which resolves the tension in the grammatical incongruity of our text. Thus, in this new dual understanding, we let our physical bodies rest and rejuvenate, all the while letting our spiritual souls return to their Divine dimension, uniting with the holiness of the Sabbath.

Going even deeper, we see in Lev 25:19, we have the word SoVA, meaning to be sated, or to have "eaten one's fill." "The land will produce its fruit, and you will EAT YOUR FILL (veAchaLteM leSoVA), thus living securely in the land." That's the peshat level. The remez, or hinted level, reveals, with alternate punctuation, "veAchaLTeM leSheva," or " you will have enough to eat for the SEVENTH year." That is, all of our life-force energies should be directed to sustain ourselves for our awesome seventh year spiritual sabbatical.

Now on the derash, or "investigative/homiletical" level, it could be read as "veAKawl TaM LeSheva,"meaning "to give ourselves over to that highest state of perfection (tam), that everything (akawl) we do should be harnessed to the vision of the highest, non-materialist state of the uppermost seventh heaven (leSheva) level of perfection, that we have the eyes to see everything with the potential to be at its best, most refined state."

Finally, we can read it on the deepest sod, or "secret" level,reading SVA as not "sova" or "sheva," but as SHaVuAh, meaning "oath." Thus it now becomes, "and you shall eat according to the oath." Oath? What oath? This means that just as parents take an oath to feed their child unconditionally, so too G*d will promise to feed us and nourish us if we return to a child-like state of openness to His magnificent bounty.

Of course, we should learn to grow up and take responsibility, but never at the price of losing our child-like sense of awe and wonderment about the world - and its Divine source. Chazon is the Hebrew word for "a vision." When the Torah says "each man shall return to (his) aChuZato (vs 10), it's hinting in the strongest sense possible that we should all return to our "original vision."

This means that our holy task in life is to return to and try to attain once more that child-like vision. We should try very much to connect ourselves to the world as does a child- to see ourselves as both inseparable and connected to every other being on the planet. If we truly have a sense of merging with all life, then it would not be possible to ever oppress our neighbor; we would only be oppressing ourselves.

A child always believes in fairness. The adult cynically says,"that's life." But the Torah's utopian vision is that ALL is connected to the ULTIMATE ONENESS, that all is of and from G*d. There is none other. The baby knows best what heaven wants. After all, he just came from there.

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of fulsome silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

Friday, May 9, 2008

EMOR - MOOMS THE WORD

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Blemishes are a problem. Whether for a teenage girl or for a Temple offering, having a blemish is not a good thing. Sometimes just a scratch or a bruise is enough to render an offering unacceptable. This might strike us as odd. How seemingly superficial. Certainly it would seem that we should not be judged by appearances. Character is so much deeper than that.

Perhaps the Hebrew word can shed some light on this question. The word for blemish in Hebrew is mum (pronounced moom). It closely resembles mayim, the word for water- mem VAV mem, instead of mem YUD mem. Mayim is compared to Torah, to healing, to cleansing. Mum is symbolic of rupture, of tearing, of defect.

This teaches us that sometimes you can have the right FRAMEWORK in place, but the interior, or the substance is defective. The MEMS look fine. But what is BETWEEN the MEMS? In other words, on the outside surface, everything seems to be alright. But if you look deeper, you can see the defect.

The Torah is not saying we should judge by the outside only. What the Torah is teaching is that if we have to be so careful to make judgements on the *outside* in matters of holiness, HOW MUCH MORE SO are we to be careful with regard to interior blemishes. If we need be careful to discern imperfection on the outside, then we should even cast our gaze on what is on the inside, the letters of the Torah seem to be telling us.

But is this a sign of pettiness? Of superficiality? Absolutely not. Just the opposite. It would be petty and superficial to ONLY look at the outside. The apple may look shiny and delicious, but a tiny worm hole may reveal an inner core that is wormy and putrid.

But the deepest lesson is this: that the blemish can yet be healed. The letter VAV in the middle of the word MuM can easily be transformed into the letter YUD, just by taking a little bit away. No need to add anything. But by thinking about what negativity you can eliminate in your life, it is definitely possible to transform the vav into a yud, the blemish into a blessing.

Anything is possible if we make the necessary changes.

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com
(niggun means wordless spiritual melody, the highest kind there is).

Friday, May 2, 2008

KEDOSHIM; HOLY HOSPITALITY

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

There's a Torah for being a host. We are taught how, like Avraham Avinu, we are supposed to serve our guests. And to serve them our choicest foods. In fact, we are to literally run to do this mitzvah of hachnasat orchim - hospitality. Our own beds if they are the most comfortable, should be offered to our guests for their lodging. We're not supposed to watch them eat lest they come to think that their host is actually counting how many portions they are taking.

We are instructed to ask our children to be careful not to say anything about the food or the sacrifices which were made to feed our guests lest the guests suspect that the hosts may have gone hungry for their sakes, and thus make them feel uncomfortable. We are to escort our guests at the end of their stay a minimum of four cubits when they leave our homes so as to give them honor and to show appreciation for their visiting our humble home.

But what about the Torah of being a guest? It seems that almost anyinconvenience for the sake of our guests should be endured for the sake of fulfilling the important mitzvah of hospitality. Is there a limit? The answer can be found in our parsha this week- Kedoshim.

In Lev 19:5-8, we learn of the particulars of the "peace offering," the zevach shelamim. As a good guest, we don't visit G*d's house empty handed.

Vs. 6 reads: b'yom zivchachem ye'achel u'mimacharat...

"you should eat it on the day of the sacrifice or the morrow..(and the leftovers should be burned in fire)."

And vs. 7: V'im he'achol ye'achol bayom hashlishi pigul hu lo yeratzeh...

"and if one (was planning) to eat it on the third day (he should know) it is considered putrid (pigul) and it is not acceptable."

Now, hospitality is not accidentally linked to "peace" or to peace offerings (shelamim). It was through hospitality that Avraham's peace of mind was assured through being granted knowledge of the future birth of a son and continuity of his lineage. All talk of a covenant was meaningless without certain knowledge of future heirs. The abstract was made real. After nearly a century, he and his wife, Sarah Imenu, were finally to have a child. Peace of mind is perhaps the best peace of all.

Now back to the "peace offering" of our parsha. Just as the meat of the zevach shelamim would become rancid in the heat by the third day and be considered pigul, or "putrid," so too the peace and completeness of our friendships may also begin to unravel by the third day. Since the Temple's destruction, our homes have become mikdashei me'at (minisanctuaries), and our tables have become altars. The Torah we share with our guests is our new offering, our truest offering.

The Torah is teaching us to be holy like G*d (kedoshim tihiyu ki kadosh ani). But just as the text says that up to three days is the maximum to keep the (original) "sacrifices for peace," so too there are limits to how much we may sacrifice for a friendship and for the great mitzvah of hospitality. True chesed empowers both the giver and the receiver.

Chesed, kindness - the insignia of Avraham, is the hallmark of our faith. To be truly holy is not measured solely by how we relate to G*d, but just as importantly, by how we relate to our fellow man. That is why Avraham and Sarah's hospitality is so stressed in the Torah. It is our blueprint for true holiness. And this holiness is a two way street. The host must love and honor his guest, and the guest must honor and love his host. Thus do we love and honor G*d.

Shabbat Shalom. Good Shabbos.

© 2000 - 2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

NEVER GIVE UP!

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Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

moshav band live at mexicali blues

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What mind is it?

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


ON FIXING AND HEALING...

"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Hatiqwa

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Beta Israel - Ethiopian Jews - The Ingathering from Without

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Palestinians of Jewish origin - The Ingathering from Within

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Holy Wedding at Makhpela, Tomb of our Fathers in hevron - Music by Pey Dalid

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Mariane Paradise and The Gan Eden Project sings of the Unity of All Creation from Jerusalem

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A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD

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IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA- SERVE THE LORD WITH JOY DANCING AND SINGING FROM INSIDE A BOMB SHELTER

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SELICHOT LIVE AT CARLEBACH SHUL 2008

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NAZI RALLIES AND SPEECHES

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JEWISH MEN AND WOMEN GATHER TO CELEBRATE REB SHLOMO'S 14TH YAHRZEIT SINGING AT HIS GRAVE

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MOSHAV BAND - THE ONLY ONE

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Reb Zalman on Jewish Renewal

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Let There Be Peace

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"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

- anonymous
"Perhaps the greatest force in the entire universe is compounded interest."

- Albert Einstein

the last hoshana rabba with reb shlomo and me playing together the week before he took off in '94

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bob marley - one love 6:13 (6 MINUTES 13 SECONDS) and exodus

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Tisha B'Av 5765 Katif Expulsion

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Children of Sderot - The Daily Terror and Nightmares

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Let Me Sing a New Song

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On Schlomo's magnificent 13th (Bar Mitzvah) yahrzeit in Heaven

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AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH REB SHLOMO top video only

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Larry David wants to Save the Planet

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Havdalah Ceremony on Moshav Meor Modiin in Central Israel

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Alpha blondy from cote d'ivoire sings his love of Jerusalem in Hebrew and French all over the world

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When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

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United States
I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!