Shabbos Parshas Emor, 17th Day of Iyar, 5747 (1987)

Shabbos Parshas Emor, 17th Day of Iyar, 5747 (1987)

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1. There are two aspects to this Shabbos:

a. Things relating to this Shabbos itself.

b. Things relating to preparing for Lag BaOmer which follows this Shabbos.

Since these two aspects coincide there must be an inner connection between them. This association is not only relevant to this year, but also most years, being that Lag BaOmer frequently occurs in the week of Parshas Emor.

We will try to explain the connection between Parshas Emor and Lag BaOmer. Although there are an infinite amount of points in Parshas Emor we will concern ourselves only with the beginning of the Parshah.

Rashi comments on the beginning of the Parshah:

‘The repetition of ‘say’ (amar) and ‘you should say’ (ve’amarta) comes to warn (lezahir) the adults concerning the youth.’

This means to say that adults should be concerned with the education of the youth. The inference of the verse is that the education should be in a way of shining (zahir) and illuminating. The children should become excited by what they learn. In addition, through adults occupying themselves with the youth, they themselves will become illuminated.

Another lesson is also learned from the same verse, as Rashi explains in tractate Berachos (6a):

‘When you do one good thing in the world, I also will do a good thing for you in the world.’

This means to say that when Jews, (children of Hashem), do Torah and mitzvos in the physical world, Hashem (adult), correspondingly brings good into the world. This also brings praise to Hashem, and Hashem in turn praises Israel. Similarly when adults teach children to walk in their ways, the children bring praise to their parents, and the children are in turn praised.

All this is also connected with Lag BaOmer, the day of the passing away of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai. As we see that this day is connected with the education of children. There is a custom on this day to take children out into the fields and tell them stories concerning the Rashbi, and to give them candies. We also see that adults go out to the fields, as the Mitteler Rebbe and also the AriZal used to do.

We could ask a question at this point. The great importance of the learning of children is well known. Why are we interrupting their learning to go out to a field? Even though we tell them stories it seems that this is incomparable with their learning Torah in the Yeshiva!

This will be explained by quoting a verse from Tehillim (119:126): ‘It is a time to act for Hashem, they have made void Your Torah.’

Also as Rashi explains in a Mishnah at the end of Berachos:

‘At times we nullify the learning of Torah in order to do something for Hashem.’

When a time comes to do, we need to stop the learning of Torah, because of the great advantage in doing. An example of this is as the Yerushalmi (Yevamos 12:1) says: ‘A custom nullifies a halachah.’

A minhag that involves action is in the category of ‘to do for Hashem,’ therefore we stop learning Torah in order to do it. So too, concerning the customs of Lag BaOmer. We stop children from learning Torah because of the great positive effect it has on their learning, in addition to the illumination and light that is brought about.

In addition, the service of the Rashbi himself was to illuminate. He wrote the Zohar which is connected with the word zahir, (illumination). Therefore, when children participate in the special customs on this day in the Rashbi’s honor it is a segulah for them.

The above is also connected with the coming of Mashiach. It is written in the Zohar that the Rashbi and Moshe Rabbeinu are connected. Moshe received the whole Torah, and was called the Raya Mehemna, the faithful shepherd. There is also a part of the Zohar called Raya Mehemna. Here it is explained at length the connection between the Zohar, which was written by the Rashbi, and the redemption. Similarly, the Rashbi also revealed Torah just as Moshe did.

This is also connected to the learning of children. As stated in Shabbos (119b), ‘don’t touch My anointed (Moshichi) ones.’ Here we see that children are compared to Mashiach just as the Zohar is.

We can also understand how adults are also affected. As it says in the end of Malachi, ‘And turn the hearts of the fathers through the children.’ The children will turn their parents’ hearts to Torah.

Women especially have an essential part in the education of the children. They in particular are the ones who prepare the children for Lag BaOmer.

We need to relate the above to action. As it is written in Pirkei Avos, ‘The action is the main thing.’ This Shabbos gives the blessings and ability to spread Chassidus. This fact is emphasized by the Rashbi himself. Even though the Rashbi was totally involved in Torah, nevertheless, when he came out of the cave the first thing he said was, ‘Where is there something that needs to be repaired (Shabbos 33b).’ The Rashbi had reached a tremendously high level by being in the cave. Nevertheless, the first act he did when he came out was to look for something to fix in the physical world. From this we can realize the great importance of affecting the world around the person in general, and other people in particular.

If we would truly want it we could effect the coming of Mashiach now. Then we could celebrate the holiday of Lag BaOmer with the Rashbi himself. As it says in the Zohar that tzaddikim will be the first to rise, which will occur immediately after the coming of Mashiach. In addition, the Bais HaMikdash also will have to be built immediately. In order for this to occur we will have to personally ask Moshe and Aharon, who already had the Bais HaMikdash in their days, how to build it.

To effect the coming of Mashiach in spiritual terms it is not enough to purify the emotions alone, but also the intellect has to be elevated. This was helped through the revelation of Chassidus Chabad which brought the Zohar down to levels of comprehension. This was accomplished through the Alter Rebbe (chochmah), the Mitteler Rebbe (binah), and the Tzemach Tzedek (daas). The three pillars of the world. Similarly the following Rebbes, until the Rebbe of our generation.

The above should bring about actual action in the learning of Torah and the spreading of Chassidus, and believing in Mashiach. This should all be done quickly and now.

2. In addition to what we spoke about above we need to explain the connection between Lag BaOmer and Parshas Behar. As the Alter Rebbe said that we need to live with the times, i.e. the portion of the week. In the beginning of Behar it says:

‘When you enter into the land you should leave it fallow, (a Shemitah year.)’

The known question is, a Shemitah year must come after six years of planting, etc., why should there be a Shemitah year immediately after they enter Israel? The answer being that immediately upon their entering the holy land they have to know that their main goal is to realize that the land belongs to Hashem. Then even in a non-Shemitah year they will realize that their whole goal in working the six regular years is to prepare for the Shemitah year. In other words, to always realize that everything belongs to Hashem.

In the Zohar it says that a talmud chocham is called Shabbos. The difference between Shabbos and the six days of the week is that, during the week one is involved in the physical world, whereas on Shabbos one is involved only in things of holiness, i.e., Torah and mitzvos. Since a talmud chocham even during the week is only involved in Torah matters, (he is continually thinking about Hashem), he therefore is called Shabbos.

In this way, we will understand the connection of Lag BaOmer to Parshas Behar. The Rashbi was on the level that his whole being was involved in Torah. Therefore he is like the Shemitah year which is a time of being totally involved in Torah.

In the same way, children are not involved in worldly matters like making a living. Therefore they can spend the whole day learning Torah. As a result, we see that they also are comparable to Shabbos. We see that even though a child doesn’t have to make a living, still, he realizes that he can’t walk around wasting time. As it says in Shabbos (77b), ‘Hashem didn’t make even one thing that doesn’t have a reason for being created.’ It is a certainty that this applies to a human being, who has a very important purpose to fulfill in this world. Any normal person wouldn’t do anything without a goal or purpose involved. Because of this, a child should use all his time being involved in matters of holiness. As it says in Iyov (5:7), ‘Man was created to work.’

In general this also applies to all of Israel. Compared to the other nations of the world, Jews are called Shabbos. They should always be connected with holiness and Hashem. Even during the week, the things that Jews are involved in should be permeated with holiness. This should be even more true of those whose whole time is involved in learning. They should be separated from the corporeality of the physical world.

Children should be taught to relate to the physical world in this way, making their rooms, (tables, beds, and objects in general), into a Tzivos Hashem room, a Bais Chabad. It should be a place of Torah, Tefillah, and Gemilus Chassidim. The physical should be converted into a holy use. In this way the children will also be able to affect the adults. As we see in actuality that when a child tells something to his parents he gets very excited. When he tells them about how he made his room into a place of Torah, they too will do the same in the house in general. The child will make a strong enough impression on the parents to motivate them to carry out the idea.

Concerning the matter of entering the land of Israel at the time of the redemption, we won’t have to conquer the land like the first time. Rather the entering of the land will be in a peaceful way, and immediately. We also won’t need ‘six years of planting.’ The laws of nature will change, since the order of things will be in a way of miracles. As it says in Shabbos (30b) that ‘A woman will give birth every day.’ The Tzemach Tzedek explained that it won’t take nine months, but since a gestation period is required, a period of nine hours will be needed. Whereas regarding delicacies, being that this preparatory period is not needed, we won’t have to wait nine hours or even nine seconds, rather they will be immediately available.

This also relates to the Rashbi. He was on such a high level that to him the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash didn’t exist, he saw only the future redemption. Each individual should also be permeated with Torah and holiness to such an extent, living on the level of miracles.

It is known the story concerning the tzitzis of the Baal Shem Tov that they would shake as though they were alive. This concerned an inanimate object, nevertheless, they were permeated with holiness to such an extent that they moved as though they had life. This is a lesson for every person: the mitzvos that they do should be permeated with life, and excitement. In this way they will merit all the blessings mentioned in the parshah.

It says in Berachos (9a): ‘In a time of need we should rely on the Rashbi.’ This means to say that when we find ourselves in a time of need, the galus, we should rely on the Rashbi. This is not done through prayers etc., but to rely on him personally. It is a certainty that we will go out of exile in the merit of the Rashbi.

* * *

3. The general aspect of Torah is that it is ‘not in the heavens’ (B. Metzia 59b). Rather it was given to be used in this physical world. Through the Torah Hashem is revealed in the world. As is known, Hashem wants a dwelling place specifically in this world. Since Torah is called ‘house’ (Likkutei Torah, Vaeschanan 10), which is something established and permanent, so too the revelation of Hashem which it brings down is permanent.

Similarly, the learning of Torah has to be in a set and permanent way. Learning Torah should be a person’s main goal and worldly matters should be secondary. Even concerning someone who is involved in making a living, during the set times he has to learn Torah he should be totally concentrating on the Torah being learned, and not be distracted by his financial responsibilities etc..

Learning in this way effects the entire home to become a house of Torah, a house full of Jewish books. Not just a bookcase of books, or a table that Torah is learned upon, but the entire house becomes full of Torah. This is because the persons entire will and thoughts revolve around the study of Torah. This is the center of his life that everything else revolves around.

Regarding the known story (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 10 pg. 105) concerning the chassid Reb Binyamin Kletzker, once when he was involved in totaling up his financial ledger when he reached the sum total he wrote ‘There is nothing besides Him!’ This being the true total of everything.

It is understood that this chassid didn’t write this in order to show how great a chassid he was, or as a joke, rather since his thoughts were always on Hashem, and that there is nothing besides Him, this expressed itself as a matter of course also in his writing. When it came to writing the sum total of everything it came into his mind that the true sum total of everything is Hashem. He couldn’t write the sum total is a number since it isn’t the true sum total of everything.

Similarly, concerning the story of a chassid that was asked by another chassid how is it possible to mix G‑dly matters of Chassidus in the middle of business? He answered very matter-of-factly, that this is not such a difficult question. If in the middle of prayer thoughts about business can enter, then it is a certainty that in the middle of work thoughts of G‑dliness can enter. It is even more so since business is only a temporary thing, whereas making a dwelling place for Hashem is an eternal matter.

In connection with the above, now is the time to mention again concerning opening new Bais Chabad’s and places of Torah and Tefillah. Through them holiness and Judaism is brought down and established in a permanent way. Even though this takes the gathering of money, this should be, as was mentioned above, in a manner of ‘There is nothing besides Hashem.’ There shouldn’t be the gathering of money and the forgetting about Hashem, G‑d forbid.

* * *

4. Our brothers behind the Iron Curtain have for many years not been allowed to be involved in anything concerning Judaism, through persecution and laws. This has gone on for a very long time. It has reached to such an extent that the majority of Jews there have not even seen a Sefer Torah. This means to say that, not only are they not allowed to learn Torah, but that they cannot even look at what a Sefer Torah is!

It is a certainty that they had no possibility to learn Torah in the most complete manner, one of which being the association with colleagues that help each other to learn. As it is stated in Pirkei Avos (6:6), that one of the conditions to be successful in learning Torah is the association with colleagues. Similarly they were lacking in other matters conducive to learning Torah in the best way.

In spite of the many obstacles, many Jews have nonetheless started the learning of Torah and the doing of mitzvos. There is no greater sanctification of the name of G‑d than this. Their self-sacrifice and sanctification of G‑d’s name is totally beyond that of Jews who live in free countries.

This level of self-sacrifice shows the uniqueness of the Jews living in these countries, and the special abilities that were given them from Hashem. Therefore they were given a greater test since they have been given the abilities to past the test. Others have not been given such a test since they have not been given such energies.

Therefore, when these Jews finally are able to leave from behind the Iron Curtain whatever is done for them doesn’t begin to reach to what one is obligated to do for them, relating to both physical and spiritual needs. Immediately upon leaving from a place of oppression a boy should be given a tallis katan. A girl should immediately be given Shabbos candles in order that she can do the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles in an open way. She now doesn’t have to hide and worry that because of her, her parents who taught her will be sent to Siberia.

On the other hand, it is easy to imagine the result if their leaving is met with a cold reception. Even if an effort is made to help these Jews, but it isn’t done with the total effort that is required, the results will also be lacking.

In particular this applies to those that have been given the merit from above to help these Jews. They should realize the merit that they have, and put forth as much effort as is required.

In some cases it is required to set aside the learning of Torah to help these Jews. We see the Rashbi himself stopped learning in order to make a Sukkah and Lulav, (Yerushalmi, Berachos 1:2). He didn’t stop just do the mitzvah itself, rather he stopped to do even the making of the Sukkah and Lulav because that was the mitzvah that was required to do at that time. Similarly in our case, it is necessary to set other things aside in order to be involved in the saving of Jews which is required now.

All efforts should be made to raise money and to do all other things that are required. There should also be built a new neighborhood for these Jews in Israel.

* * *

5. The saying of the Rashbi ‘There are three crowns — the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship; but the crown of a good name surpasses them all,’ is not understood.

It is explained in many places, (Likkutei Torah, Sukkos pg. 83a), that the crown of a good name is connected with the doing of mitzvos. This is why the crown of a good name is higher than the rest, higher even than the crown of Torah, because ‘great is the learning of Torah because it leads to action, (Kiddushin 40b).’

It would seem that since the Rashbi’s whole life was Torah, as it says ‘Torah was his craft, (occupation),’ how could the Rashbi emphasize the crown of a good name over that of Torah?

This will be understood by prefacing with the explanation of ‘Torah was his craft.’ The craft of a craftsman is not his total being, rather the craftsman is just involved in the craft. An example being a craftsman who works with precious jewels and pearls. The precious jewels are not his entire existence, it is only that his craft involves precious jewels.

Similarly in our case, even though the main involvement of the Rashbi was with the learning Torah, nevertheless, his essence was involved in his connection and unification with Hashem. Therefore, since this connection is made through the doing of mitzvos, (the word mitzvah itself meaning connection and unification), the Rashbi emphasized the advantage of the crown of a good name over all other crowns.

In addition, we see the text mentions three crowns and not four. This implies that the ‘crown of a good name’ is not a crown apart from the other crowns, rather, it is ‘above the others.’ This means to say that the fruition of the doing of mitzvos follows after, and is based upon, the achievement of the other three crowns.

Now we can understand why on Lag BaOmer we take children away from learning Torah in order to fulfill the customs associated with the day. This action is what is demanded at this particular time.

A free translation from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
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Translated excerpts of talks delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, at his periodic public addresses.
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