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GOOD MORNING! Over 3,000 years ago we left Egypt. Right now the Jewish people were in the desert on their way to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai 50 days later. According to our tradition, the Almighty took the Jewish people out in the nick of time. On a scale of 50, with number 1 being spiritual perfection, we were on the 49th level. Our sages tell us that had we sunk to the 50th level, the Almighty would not have taken us out of Egypt.
During the journey to Mt. Sinai, the Jewish people worked on spiritual and character improvement in order to make themselves worthy of receiving the Torah. Each year during the period between Pesach and Shavuos (the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people), we strive to focus on personal improvement and self-perfection. The days between Passover and Shavuos are called the Sephira (the counting) and refers to the Sephirat HaOmer which is explained below.
How do we begin to improve ourselves? It starts with a decision to change. What if you had a special clock on top of your television that was counting down the hours and minutes until you were to die? When would you get up, turn off the TV and do all the things that you planned to do, hoped to do or in passing thought about doing?
And what if in addition to your special clock, you had a special bank account where every morning you were credited in your bank account with $86,400 dollars on condition that you had to spend it all or lose it? What would you do? Spend it!! Well, you do have a special bank account called the Bank of Time! Each day you have exactly 86,400 seconds. What you don't invest wisely is written off each night. You can reap dividends, but you can't go into overdraft!
One has to value his time and know that it is limited in order to change. The Sephirat HaOmer period is about valuing time and about changing.
Q & A: WHAT IS SEPHIRAT HA-OMER?
On the second day of Pesach, the Omer offering from the new barley crop was brought in the Temple in Jerusalem. It began a period of counting and preparation for Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the yearly celebration of re-accepting the Torah upon ourselves. This period is called Sephirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer.
Forty-nine days are counted each year and on the fiftieth day is Shavuot, the Yom Tov celebrating the giving of the Torah. There is actually a Mitzvah to count each specific day, which is done at the completion of Ma'ariv - the evening service.
This is a period of national semi-mourning (no weddings or even haircuts). It was during this period that Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students died. It is a time for us to reflect how we look upon and treat our fellow Jews as well as the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded (self-justified) hatred. It is a wonderful time to undertake an extra act of kindness; this will help bring perfection to the world and unity amongst Jews.
These 50 days also correspond to the seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt when the Jewish people prepared themselves to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. When we left Egypt we were on the 49th level of Tuma, spiritual degradation. Each day we climbed one step higher in spirituality and holiness. Many people study one of the "48 Ways to Wisdom" (found in Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, 6:6) each day as a means to personal and spiritual growth. An excellent tape collection by the great educator and founder of Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, is available by calling (800) 864-2373 - or you can hear each day's lecture on AishAudio.com. You can also read each day's Way on Aish.com. I refer to this collection (available on tape, CD's or even in MP3 format) as the "Jewish Dale Carnegie Course" for getting the most out of life! It will be one of the great purchases in your life!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin - unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.
There are two types of speech transgressions:
- Loshon Hora (literally "evil tongue") - making a derogatory or damaging statement about someone even though you are speaking the truth.
- Rechilus (literally "tale bearing") - telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did against him.
Check out http://chofetzchaimusa.org for daily lessons in Shmirat HaLoshon, proper speech - or call (800) 867-2482 for books and tapes! Also, check out http://www.aish.com/stopLH/ for "The 10 Rules of Loshon Hora."
The second Torah Portion, Metzora, continues with the purification process for the metzora, the person afflicted with tzora'as and then the home afflicted with tzora'as. The portion ends with the purification process for discharges from the flesh.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh the plague of 'tzora'as,' then he shall be brought to Aharon the priest, or to one of his sons the priest." (Leviticus 13:2)
Why was the person brought to Aharon, the priest?
The Rabbi of Alexander commented on this verse: The Sages state that tzora'as is an affliction that comes because a person spoke loshon hora, defamatory speech, against others. When people say negative things about others, they frequently rationalize that it is proper for them to say what they are saying. One common excuse is that they are telling the truth. The other person has done so much wrong that it is important to publicize what a bad person he is. They claim that they would never do this without having elevated intentions and that they are actually perfoming a Mitzvah.
Although their claims might sound good at first, they cause much hatred, quarrels and pain. Therefore, the person with tzora'as was sent to Aharon, the priest. One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people. He then exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people. Whenever people quarreled, he would tell both sides that the other side was saying kind and positive things about them.
When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship. This was the lesson that Aharon would give to the person who spoke against others: Don't justify your harming and wronging others by claiming that you want to publicize the truth. Do all that is in your power to help people feel love for one another.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 23:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:58 Hong Kong 6:28 Honolulu 6:34
J'Burg 5:26 London 7:51 Los Angeles 7:12
Melbourne 5:21 Miami 7:29 Moscow 7:34
New York 7:25 Singapore 6:50
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Don't confuse your net worth
with your self worth.
In Memory of
In Memory of my father,