Question of the Week: In Chutz LaAretz, we keep two days of Yom Tov because of the original Sefeika D’Yoma (doubt as to which day Yom Tov really came out) in Chutz LaAretz which was far from Yerushalayim, which remained our Minhag even after we became sure of the actual dates--such as which day is really the 15th of Nissan. This being so, why don’t we keep two counts for Sefira--one beginning on the second night of Pesach as usual, and a second count beginning on the third night of Pesach as the Sefeika D’Yoma of the previous night? It would not, after all, be so complicated at all--with our simply reciting that today is the 20th day of the Omer, pausing a few seconds and saying that today is the 21st day of the Omer. We eat Matzah and Maror, and maintain an entire Seder on the second night of Pesach--can’t we do the same for our precious Sefira count --with the second additional count simply being completed--on the second day of Shavuos instead of the first!
An Important Source! Many of us are familiar with the words of the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaChniyah, 7) in which he teaches that one who speaks Loshon Hora against another loses his zechusim to that person and inherits that person’s aveiros as well. What are the mekoros, sources for these severe punishments as presented by the Chovos HaLevavos, and reiterated by the Chofetz Chaim in the Sefer Shemiras Halashon? The Sefer Tallelei Oros at the end of Parshas Emor, presents the words of Chazal from which these important teachings are drawn. We refer you there for further depth.
Special Note One: We received the following from a reader regarding HaRav Soloveitchik’s position on Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut: “I would like to add, since I was there in the shiur on that day in Iyar 1978, that Rav Soloveitchik, zt"l, specifically said that if one chooses to say the chapters of Hallel as Tehillim after Kaddish Shalem, as you describe, he may NOT make a bracha!” Hakhel Note: We intended to convey that, and apologize if that was not clearly expressed.
Special Note Two: Before taking leave of Parshas Emor, we must provide one final dramatic but practical teaching of the Rabbeinu Bachya, derived from the parsha of the mekallel. Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the mekallel did not simply brashly utter Hashem’s name with r’l a curse connected to it--he slowly and surely expressed the Name--with aforethought and intent. If this one time act, teaches Rabbeinu Bachya, was able to shorten, to snuff out, the mekallel’s life by sekila being meted out against him, then IMAGINE, just IMAGINE the arichus yomim, the bracha, that a life long dedication to reciting Hashem’s name slowly and surely when reciting a bracha will bring to each and every one of us. Such is r’l the power of a k’lala for the wrongdoer--and such is the power of a bracha for us--as the zerah beirach Hashem--to learn and apply. Remember: Not fast and gobbled, or even mediocre and unthinking --but Slow and Sure. The difference is, literally, life itself!
Special Note Three: We are now only four weeks from the giving of the Torah in 5771. The following is excerpted from the wonderful work Leading Jews Back by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of HaRav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What did Rus see in Naomi that impressed her so much? The Midrash (Rus Rabbah 2:5) gives an explanation: Why was she called Naomi? Because her actions were sweet and pleasant. Rus saw in Naomi what a life devoted to Torah and Avodas Hashem can do for a person. She saw her sterling middos, her nobility of spirit, her warmth and caring personality. That was what attracted Rus and motivated her to give up a life of ease and luxury and “return” to Yiddishkeit as a penniless, widowed convert, forced to live off the charity of others. This is the enormous power a person with a pleasant, warm personality and good middos has on other people. He attracts followers like a magnet and can have great influence on their lives. This is a proven method to bring closer to Yiddishkeit those who are estranged from the heritage of their forefathers. While philosophical discussions and proofs of the existence of a Creator are certainly tools in bringing Ba’alei Teshuvah back to their roots, a critical factor is to show how the ways of Torah are pleasant and all its pathways are peace (Mishlei 3:17). This has the drawing power to influence people to a Torah way of life. Derech Eretz precedes Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3). This concept underlines the vital importance of Torah Jews conducting themselves with the utmost courtesy and respect in their interpersonal relationships. They must not forget that wherever they go--whether in the business or professional world, or as neighbors or friends--they represent the Torah. One does not have to be a Rabbi or kiruv professional to influence others. Every Torah Jew presents an image to those around him which, depending on his conduct, will either bring others closer to Yiddishkeit or, c’v, cause estrangement from it. It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This can be seen by the great influence one woman (Naomi) has on another (Rus), which set into motion the chain of events which led to the founding of Malchus Bais Dovid and planted the seeds of Moshiach.
Hakhel Note: It is no coincidence that the Sefira is a time of growth in Bain Odom LeChaveiro, as a necessary prerequisite to Kabbalas HaTorah. Rabbi Frand’s Hakhel Sefira Shiur this past Sunday on narcissism was an OUTSTANDING review and presentation of how a Torah Jew is to conduct his life both inwardly and outwardly. We urge those who were not present to obtain a copy of the Shiur ( tape or cd), by contacting 718-252-5274. Listening to and applying Rabbi Frand’s great teachings will emanate far beyond this Sefira period--long and far into life!