Shabbat Shalom Weekly: Shmini 5760
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Shmini(Leviticus 9-11)

Shmini 5760

GOOD MORNING!  Thirty days before each holiday we are directed by the Sages to prepare for the holiday. We are now less than 30 days and closing on Passover! The Seders are Wednesday night, April 19th and Thursday night, April 20th. In order to transform what may have become an overly ritualized family reunion into a fountainhead of insight and inspiration, I cannot recommend highly enough, The Passover Survival Kit by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf. It's for people with a lot more than four questions. Available at your local Jewish bookstore or call toll-free 877-758-3242 (you can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props).

Additionally, check out the Aish website on Passover -- http://www.aish.com . Of course, it wouldn't hurt to also save the next four weeks' copies of the Shabbat Shalom to have at the Seder table ...


Q & A:  WHAT IS PESACH (PASSOVER) AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?

Every Jewish holiday is an opportunity to work on a certain aspect of personal growth. Succot is the time to work on Joy; Yom Kippur the time to work on Teshuva, spiritual accounting; Shavuot is the time to work on Kabbalat HaTorah, taking Torah seriously.

Passover is the holiday of Freedom -- spiritual freedom. For this the Almighty brought us out of Egypt. So, what is the essence of Freedom?

Is Freedom the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.

People think they are free when in reality they are often "slaves" to the fads and fashion of their society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom!

All of the commandments associated with Pesach enable us to relive and experience the freedom our forefathers experienced in leaving the land of Egypt in order to serve the Almighty.

During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own Chametz (leavened bread -- i.e. virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession. Why the emphasis on being Chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every Mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal arrogance. The external act brings the internal appreciation; we remove Chametz from our homes and we must likewise work on the character trait of humility.

On the evening preceding Pesach there is a serious search of the home for Chametz. There is a custom to put 10 pieces of bread out so there will be something to find during the search. (I believe this is the source for the Easter Egg hunt amongst Christians). It is done by the light of a candle or with a flashlight. It is a memorable experience for the whole family!


Would you spend another $60 to make this Passover really special? Here is something that can really enliven your Passover Seder! THE PASSOVER FAMILY FUN KIT created by one of Aish HaTorah's creative geniuses, my beloved colleague, Rabbi Stephen Baars, Aish Washington, DC! "The silliest, wackiest, wildest time you'll ever have at the Seder table!" It includes 5 copies of the Children's Passover Play and over 100 exciting and fun props and character costumes for kids, grandkids and adults to act out the story of Passover. It's tons of fun for the whole family!
$49.95 plus shipping & handling ($7 in the USA)
No Hebrew Required

send to:
Aish HaTorah Washington, DC.,
11418 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852
aishdc@aol.com http://www.passoverkit.com (301) 881-9010


Torah Portion of the Week
Shmini

Concluding the 7 days of inauguration for the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary), Aaron, the High Priest, brings sacrifices for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron, bring an incense offering on their own initiative, and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately hit by "lightning").

The Cohanim are commanded not to serve while intoxicated. The inaugural service is completed. God then specifies the species which are Kosher to eat: mammals (those that have cloven hoofs and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (certain non-predators), and insects (certain species of locusts). The portion concludes with the laws of spiritual defilement from contact with the carcasses of certain animals.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And the Almighty spoke to Aharon (Aaron) saying, 'Wine and other intoxicating beverages, you shall not drink, you and your sons with you, when you come into the Tent of Meeting.' " Why the special emphasis on not drinking intoxicating beverages before serving in the sanctuary?

The Netziv, Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, comments: A regular priest (Kohen) is forbidden to do the service in the Temple when he has just lost a close relative, but the High Priest is permitted to do so. Why? One must be in a state of joy to do the Almighty's service. When a regular priest loses a relative, he is in a state of grief and therefore lacks the necessary joy to serve. The High Priest (Kohen Gadol) had to be a person who reached the level that his service in the Temple would transcend any personal loss. When he performed the Almighty's service, he was able to be in a joyous state regardless of what events had just occurred.

Because joy is a necessary prerequisite for service, one might mistakenly think that a Kohen could or even should drink wine in order to put himself in a high mood. Therefore, the Torah tells us that this joy must come from an awareness of the Almighty. It should not be artificially induced by means of some chemical substance that one ingests.

The practical lesson for us: A person can enter a happy emotional state, though it may be difficult, with his own mind and has no need for external stimulants to do it. Act happy and you will feel happy. The outward act brings the inner appreciation. Additionally, the prescription for happiness is focusing on what one has. (Misery, therefore, is focusing on what one doesn't have!)



CANDLE LIGHTING - March 31:

Jerusalem 5:19   Miami 6:02  New York 5:24
L.A. 5:55  Hong Kong 6:20  Singapore 6:55
Guatemala  5:51  Honolulu   6:27  J'Burg 5:50
Melbourne 6:58  Moscow 6:45  London 6:12
Atlanta 6:40  Toronto 6:26



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

You cannot fill an inside void
with outside things.



Dedicated by...

In Honor of
Michael, Diana & Samantha Epstein
All Our Love,
Dad & Mom

Published: March 25, 2000

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