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Author: Rabbi Elazar Meisels Created: 1/17/2007 5:01 PM
A place for quick thoughts on the Parshah, Hashkafah, Holidays and more from Rabbi Meisels.

About More Than The Individual

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/14/2007 11:40 AM

“You will not bear a sin because of it, when you separate its best part; and the sanctities of the Children of Israel you should not desecrate...” 18:32

  • You Shall Not Desecrate – This prohibition refers to a Kohen (priest) who offers to assist a farmer in his chores, in return for his Terumah [tithes]. (Every individual Jew could decide to which Kohen to give his Terumah.) By doing so, the Kohen disrespects the sanctity of the Terumah and deserves to be punished. – Talmud, Bechoros 26b

Although the Torah instituted priestly tithes in order to provide basic material support for the Kohanim, who devoted their lives to the service of Hashem, it wasn’t meant to be treated as a business. The tithes were sacred, and they needed to be treated with esteem. A Kohen who attempts to manipulate the system by improperly positioning himself ...

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What Was He Really Saying?

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/14/2007 11:39 AM

“Moshe said to Korach, "Please listen, sons of Levi. Is it not sufficient for you that the G-d of Israel has elevated you over the rest of the congregation of Israel to bring you closer to Him to perform the services of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) of Hashem, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them? And He brought you near with all of your brethren the sons of Levi with you - and yet you demand to be kohanim (priests) as well? 16:8-10

It is important to recognize that Korach’s rebellion attacked more than just Moshe’s choice of Aaron, his brother, as high priest. Accusing Moshe of nepotism was an attack on Moshe’s personal integrity, and would undermine everything Moshe had done as a leader, most importantly the giving over of the Torah. The charge was totally baseless: Korach ignored the fact that for all Moshe’s sacrifices on behalf of the people, he himself would merit ne ...

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The Value of a Protest

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/14/2007 11:38 AM

“And Korach, the son of Yitzhar the son of Kehos the son of Levi, separated himself, and Dasan and Aviram the sons of Eliav, and On the son of Peles, the sons of Reuven.” 16:1

  • The son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi - But Scripture does not mention, "the son of Yaakov," since Yaakov implored Hashem for compassion that his name be omitted from their dispute, as it is said, ‘let my name not be identified with their assembly.’” – Rashi

It is no secret that Yaakov was the father of Levi. What then was accomplished by omitting mention of his name? Indeed, what Yaakov sought to avoid with his plea to be omitted was not posthumous shame. Rather, he hoped to impress upon Levi that his actions were inconsistent with Yaakov’s philosophy. Although his words may not have their intended effect on Levi’s desc ...

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Going Home Isn’t That Easy

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/10/2007 3:21 PM

“They awoke early in the morning and went up to the peak of the mountain, saying, ‘We are ready to go up to the place of which Hashem spoke, for we have sinned.’ They defiantly went up the mountain peak…The Amalekite and the Canaanite descended…and they smote and crushed them until Chormah.” 14:40-45

This tragic episode reveals how sensitive the issue of conquering Eretz Yisroel really is. Regardless of how passionate we may feel toward the land, it simply cannot be had on our terms. Our ability to acquire the land is predicated upon Hashem’s permission to do so. Regardless of our strength or dedication to this ideal, we will not be successful in capturing it until He allows us to do so. Conversely, when Hashem decides that the time is ripe for the Jewish people to control the land, our military prowess or lack thereof will not be a factor either. Under the leadership of Yehoshua, t ...

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It Matters Not What They Think

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/10/2007 3:20 PM

“There we saw the giants, the sons of the giant, from among the Nephilim, and we were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes.” 13:33

  • And So We Appeared In Their Eyes – “We heard them say to each other, ‘There are ants in the vineyard like people’” - Rashi

On the surface, this statement sounds innocent enough. After all, it’s most intimidating to hear giants speak of how insignificant you are to them. Certainly, it couldn’t have inspired much confidence in them. Yet, the Kotzker Rebbe viewed this little exchange as emblematic of all that went wrong with the spies. As emissaries of the Jewish people who’d been promised Hashem’s direct protection, they had no business worrying about what others thought of them. They were on a national mission, and their personal feelings ...

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Choose Your Spies Wisely

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 6/10/2007 3:20 PM

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, ‘Send, for yourself men, and have them scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to Bnei Yisroel…’” 13:1,2

  • Send For Yourself - According to your opinion [you may send them.] I do not command you [to send them]. If you wish, send [them]. Because the Jewish people came and demanded, ‘let us send men before us,’ as it is said, ‘all of you approached me, etc.’ Moshe conferred with the Shechinah. Hashem said, 'I told them that it is good, as it is said, ‘I will bring you up from the suffering of Egypt, etc. (to a land flowing with milk and honey)’ By their lives! I'll give them an opportunity for error with the report of the spies, so that they will not inherit it.” – Rashi
  • Send For Yourself Men - The last letters of the words, “Shelach Lechah Anoshim& ...
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The Silver Lining

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 5/29/2007 1:11 PM

“May Hashem turn His face toward you and grant you peace.” 6:26

  • And grant you peace – To conclude all of these beautiful blessings, the Kohanim request that Hashem grant us peace, the receptacle in which all of these blessings will be held. – Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni

Since a blessing can only be appreciated when it is accompanied by peace, the word Shalom [peace] is actually considered one of the names of Hashem, the source of all blessing. Aside from the obvious implications of this idea, it also points to the fact that when we fail promote peace amongst one another, we drive away blessing, and the Divine Presence itself.


The Care and Transport of the Mishkan

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 5/29/2007 1:10 PM

“Raise up the head of the children of Kehoss from among the children of Levi...” 4:2

  • The tribe of Levi was split into the three distinct families; Gershon, Kehoss, and Merari. Each was assigned a different position related to the care and transport of the Mishkan.
    1. Gershon – Transported the curtains and cloth coverings of the Mishkan. Erect the Mishkan, bake the showbreads, slaughter, and guard the Mishkan.
    2. Kehoss – Carried the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle such as the Ark and the Altar.
    3. Merari – Transported the wall beams, center poles, and their supports.

Although Gershon was the oldest of the three sons of Levi, his family was not honored with the most esteemed position of carrying the Ark and sacred vessels. That was reserved for the second son, Kehoss, from whom emerged Moshe and Aharon who taught the Torah to the Jewish people. Since they ...

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Full Disclosure

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 5/10/2007 9:31 PM

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come to the land which I give to you, the land shall observe a Shabbos rest for Hashem.’” 25:1,2

  • What is the connection between the Sabbatical year and Mount Sinai? Were not all the mitzvos said at Sinai? Rather, this comes to teach us that just as the general rules, details, and specifications of the Sabbatical year were all said at Sinai, so too, the general rules, details, and specifications of all the Mitzvos were said at Sinai… - Rashi, Torah Kohanim
  • Perhaps the reason that the mitzvah of Shmittah/ The Sabbatical Year was selected as the model for all the Mitzvos is because it is similar in nature and rationale to the mitzvah of Shabbos, which was heard at Sinai from the mouth of Hashem, and is an extension of that mitzvah. Based on this similarity, one might have mistakenly thought ...
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The Kohen and Jewish Unity

Rabbi Elazar Meisels 4/19/2007 1:44 PM
“When a person will have in the skin of his flesh a spot of intense whiteness …he shall be brought before Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim. The Kohen shall look at the affliction…it is a tzora'as affliction. The Kohen shall examine it and declare him contaminated.” 13:2.3
  • To Aharon the Kohein etc. - It is a Scriptural decree that the declaration of the impurity of skin lesions and their purification is only by authority of a Kohen.” – Rashi
One of the primary causes of tzora’as is the spread of slander, a hateful act that triggers disunity among the Jewish people. The job of the Kohen is to assist the people in their quest for spiritual perfection and unify them under the banner of Torah and Heavenly service. Perhaps this is symbolized by the fact that only the Kohen is fit to pron ...
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