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Parshas Vayikra - The Call of Torah                  29 Adar 5778

03/16/18 10:05:38


Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

There are many different pleasures which each of us look forward to throughout our lives. Pleasure is a broad class of mental states that humans and animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. These include more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria. The early psychological concept of pleasure, referred to as the pleasure principle, describes it as a positive feedback mechanism which motivates every living creature to recreate that particular experience which it has just found pleasurable in the future and to avoid situations that have caused pain in the past.

The experience of pleasure is subjective; different individuals will experience different kinds and amounts of pleasure in the same situation. Many pleasurable experiences are associated with satisfying basic biological drives, such as eating, exercise, hygiene, and more. The appreciation of cultural artifacts and activities such as art, music, dancing, and literature is often pleasurable.

Often, we do something for someone and that person expresses appreciation for your kindness and consideration. A typical exchange goes as follows: the recipient says, “Thank you,” while the giver replies “My pleasure”. There are a few situations where the pleasurable experience is physical but causes an internal feeling. Any professional gets satisfaction when his or her experience and skill set is used. I’ve experienced joy and a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction of what a Rabbi/teacher gets a high from. A rabbi is a teacher, and a teacher enjoys teaching. When someone asks me a question, I immediately have a good feeling in the sense that the person wants to learn, and I have the opportunity to help them, teach them, and nurture growth. Last week I had an incredible experience which gave me an enormous amount of pleasure. I received a phone call from two young siblings about eight and five years old who said they had a question for the Rabbi! I was ecstatic as I carefully listened to their question about a young fruit tree, asking me when could they derive benefit from the tree by eating its fruit. I decided to show how important it was for children to ask questions and not be intimidated by asking the Rabbi. By the way, there are other children who come over with their parents and will ask a question on Shabbos. In this case I went over to the children’s house and looked at the fruit tree and discussed the relevant laws associated with fruit trees. I get such Nachas and satisfaction when children ask questions and parents arrange to have their questions asked and taken seriously. This is a level of “Chinuch” – education - that can only be learned at home. The Rabbi of a community is a resource for everyone and is happy when his expertise is sought.

A ‘Ben Torah’ and all who truly value the Torah continuously search for growth. Every Jew must live with a Torah outlook, a perspective or Hashkafa that centers around the growth of Torah and Mitzvos for themselves and their family. There are several indicators and factors that contribute and make up a good Torah Hashkafa. The case of children asking questions is one of those gauges. Someone who does not ask is not in growth mode. That person is instead using up their original resources which will eventually dry up. The message of Torah Chinuch cannot be stated more clearly than what Chazal (Rabbis, their memory should be a blessing) have to say about Chinuch at the very outset of Sefer Vayikra.

The Torah states in Parshas Vayikra at the beginning of both this week’s parshas Vayikra and next week in Parshas Tzav. In Parshas Tzav the Torah states 6:2 “Tzav Es Aharon V’Es Banav Laymore, Zos Toras HaOlah…” - “This is the law of the burnt elevation offering…”. The Medrash Rabbah at the end of 7:3 teaches us why there is a tradition for children to begin learning Chumash from Vayikra and not from Bereishis. The reason, Reb Assi says, ‘why is it that young school children begin to learn Toras Kohanim, the book of Vayikra, and not Bereishis? It is because young children are pure and innocent, let it be the pure Tahor – wholesome - ones should come learn about Tahara, about cleanliness and purity!!!” Yet in this week’s parsha Vayikra the Torah states in Vayikra 1:1 “Vayikra El Moshe…” “And Hashem called Moshe…” The Midrash Eicha Aleph states there is a Mesorah /tradition that the Aleph of the word Vayikra is small. Rebbi Yehuda said: ‘Come and see how dear the Tinokos Shel Beis Rabban – the young school children - is to Hashem.’ God exiled the great Sanhedrin, but the Shechina, God’s essence, did not go into exile with them. God exiled the Mishmaros, the watch groups, but the Shechina did not go into exile with them. But when the school children were forced into exile, the Shechina went into exile along with them. We gather from the Midrash that the essence of Hashem’s presence was primarily there because of the young children learning Torah. In the merit that their mouths were full of Torah and empty of nonsense, there was no sin, hence Hashem’s presence would be glad to be with them even if that meant leaving Eretz Yisrael. This resulted in the greater Jewish people benefitting from the children’s learning that kept the Shechina close to the entire Jewish people in the Golus/exile.

*Reb Yosef Zvi Salant in his sefer B’er Yosef connects this to the Ark in Shmos 25:22 “I will commune (I will meet with you at set times) with you there, speaking to you from above the ark cover, from between the two cherubs that are on the Ark of Testimony. In this manner I will give instructions to the Israelites”. The Gemara Sukkah 5 asks ‘what is a Cheruv?’Rebbi Avahu said ‘Cherebia’ is like a baby for that is how a baby was called in Babylon. This hints to the fact that it was in the merit of the young small children that Hashem shrank Himself and His Shechina, His essence, in between the Cherubs. This was done to teach Torah and Mitzvos to the nation of Israel.

Adults and parents need to recognize that it takes Torah learning - especially for our young children - to have the Shechina live in our midst. Now, more than ever before, we who are living in the Golus of the Golus need to see the primary importance of Torah learning at all levels. We need to re-assess our Hashkafa, the outlook we have on the primacy of Torah in our schools, shuls and community. Communities grow by bringing in more Torah personalities and families who have a proper Torah Hashkafa to help influence the proper path we need to be on.

Our Shul and community should continue to grow in Torah and Yiras Shamayim and listen to the call of Moshe in raising the bar of Torah in our midst and be a shining light so that we, too, can listen to the sweet words of Torah emanating from the cherubs running all around us.


*Yosef Zundel of Salant (1786–1866) (also known as Zundel Salant) was an Ashkenazi Rabbi and the primary teacher of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter.

Zundel was born on the first day of Rosh Hashana in 1786 in Salantai, Lithuania. Little is known of his early years. He was a descendant of Rabbi Faivush Ashkenazi of Vilna (late 17th-early 18th century) His father was Rabbi Benyamin Beinush, who was a Shochet and Chazzan in Salant.

As a young man, Zundel studied in the Volozhin under Rabbi Chaim Volozhin. Following Rabbi Chaim's death in 1821, Zundel would make trips to study with Rabbi Akiva Eiger.

Salant's wife was Rochel Rivkah. They had three children: two daughters, Tziviah and Heniah, and an only son, Aryeh Leib. Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant refused to accept any rabbinical positions. He ran a small business which produced only a meager living. He chose to spend much of his time immersed in Torah studies and Mussar.

Zundel provided the spiritual inspiration for his most famous student, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, the founder of the Mussar movement.

During the early years of the Mussar movement, Reb Zundel was seen in the marketplace on Friday afternoons, reminding the merchants that the Jewish Sabbath was approaching giving the merchants time to close their stalls and avoid desecrating the Shabbos.

Ah Gut Shabbos & Ah Gutten Chodesh
Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780