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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: Thoughts.JPG
Reb Shlomo Zalman Emor

        Hi Kids,                                                                                                                               

I hope this finds you all well in all ways. We so look forward to these grand summer plans to materialize. Let's all work together to make it happen and B'EZ"H it will.                                                                                       
In this week's parsha we are commanded regarding the mitzva of counting of the Omer. One of the important lessons we can take out of this mitzva is its requirement for "temimos" - completeness or consistency, for example if you miss one day then you can no longer count the rest of the time with a bracha. I am not going to speak about the concept of perfection here. Briefly though, the Mishna in Kiddushin mysteriously states that he who does one Mitzva, automatically is eligible for olam haba. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains this to mean that whoever takes one Mitzva and keeps it to perfection all of his life, will be greatly rewarded… The Yerushalmi then makes a suggestion for which Mitzva would be a good choice to work on perfecting - Kibud Av v'Eim (honoring and/or fearing father and mother). In honor of Mother's Day (which lends itself to an infusion of spirituality) and of the many mothers who are reading this, I would like to tell two poignant stories that will hopefully enhance our understanding of the mitzva and will encourage and help all of us raise our children to perfect it. I also want to point out that I have personally witnessed this Mitzva being meticulously kept even after the passing of the parent - watching the total dedication of my good friend to never miss a kaddish…no fanfare, just a determined commitment to do a perfect job in raising his mother's neshama through the praising of Hashem in her memory.                                                                                                          
 First, a true story about the Or Hachaim Hakadosh - R' Chaim ben Attar (1696 - 1743) ZT"L. R' Chaim was once on an ocean voyage. A terrible storm rose up and the ship capsized. Miraculously he survived by holding on to a plank of wood from the smashed boat. He washed up 3 days later on a lifeless beach. Parched from extreme thirst and starving, he profusely thanked Hashem and forced himself to get up and go inland to try and find help. By nightfall he found himself in a thick forest. Still spotting no people, he knew there were plenty of dangerous animals. He climbed up a tall tree and 'slept' there - frozen, hungry and terrified. As the sun came up he noticed some smoke in the distance. Carefully getting down from the tree, he wandered not too far before he noticed the cabin. He approached, knocked - no answer. The door was unlocked. He went in and called out - no one was home but there was food on the table. Assuming it abandoned, he ate some food and went to lay down on the bed in the corner - he fell asleep. Towards evening, the occupants returned home - a gang of robber/murderers returning from their daily plundering. ( I'm sure you are all thinking Goldilocks ). The men were not amused with this uninvited guest and immediately wanted to kill him. Their leader however, stopped them," let's eat and hear the guy out and then decide on his fate", he reasoned. R' Chaim told them the whole story from the shipwreck on, but the motley crew had blood on their minds - they sentenced him to death. Again the leader postponed the murder, "I want to speak with this man privately first," he demanded. He took R' Chaim outside, looked him in the eye and said,"Rebbe, do you recognize me?" R' Chaim, taken aback, took a closer look but could not remember this person. " I am your student from many years ago. My name is Ploni but the rav probably doesn't recognize me with a full beard." Now recalling the boy, he smiled but then asked seriously " what happenned to you my son that you have sunk to such lows?" Shamefaced he explained, " it all started when I was having huge fights with my parents. One day, in a burst of anger at them, I did a terrible sin and severed all my ties with them. I wandered around, got involved with bad people and eventually became the leader of this group of very bad men - my hands are overflowing with innocent blood. But upon seeing you today Rebbe, in this out of the way place, and upon hearing the extraordinary events which led you here, I am feeling emotional for the first time in years and my heart is smitten. I know I have done terrible things and have led a despicable life - can you show me the way to teshuvah - I will do anything you tell me but you must promise me that when I complete my task, I will be forgiven for all and will be allowed into Olam Haba.         R' Chaim, the great talmudist and kabbalist answered with stern compassion, " Your teshuva is indeed going to be extremely difficult but I guarantee that if you follow it you will achieve atonement. First of all run away from this horrible gang and all other negative associates, immediately. Constantly do teshuva with all your heart and dedicate you entire life to Torah and Mitzvos. Observe all the laws meticulously, Shabbos, Yom Tov, etc. and do as many good and charitable deeds as possible. After you are a good solid Jew, go to a cave where snakes lay their eggs. Take an egg that is hatching, and take the baby snake and put it in a cylinder of steel and plug it up. Wear the cylinder around your neck and every morning and evening, you will feed your snake. When you have done this for seven years, unplug the cylinder and let the snake slide out." "But if I let it out he will bite and kill me!" protested Ploni. "That is true, agreed R' Chaim, "but that will be your ultimate atonement. Your entire slide into the abyss of moral depravity stemmed from your treatment of your parents. They raised you with love and endless devotion. They norished your soul as well as feeding and clothing you to the best of their abilities and yet you turned on them. Your snake which you fed and cared for for those seven years will also turn on you - that will be your just dessert - then you will have done a complete teshuva." Ploni, understanding the divine intervention of this whole episode, agreed to this teshuva program of his Rebbe. He led R' Chaim out of the forest to safety, kissed his hand and escaped to a far off place where he returned to the religion of his parents. He raised a snake in his breast for seven years and as instructed, freed it and watched it as it slithered out and opened its mouth…                          
  Not long after that, Ploni came to R' Chaim in a dream and told him that he could rest assured that he had completed hhis task and was indeed at peace in Olam Haba.  
One more short one
 - R' Yeshua Basis, the rabbi of Tunis, every Friday night after shul, would stop by his mother's house to kiss her hand and receive a bracha from her (apparently this is a minhag traced to the Arizal). One wintry Friday night, heavy winds howled through Tunis as it rained torrentially. Trying to shield himself from the onslaught of this weather, he hurried as fast as he could to her home. When he got there, all was quiet - normally he would be hearing the clanging of dishes as the table was being set. He decided that his mother must have been tired and nodded off to sleep. Possibly, he reasoned, even the opening of the door might awaken her from what must be a much needed nap. He waited outside in the drenching rain for about an hour until he heard the pitter patter of his mother setting the table. Only then he came in with the utmost respect, completely soaked, and kissed her hand…                                                                                                                     
The seriousness and the beauty of the great Mitzva of Kibud Av va'Eim                                                  
 You are wonderful children and I love you all 'd'                                                                                                                                                                                              
 p.s. Well deserved Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers - May this letter serve to remind us all that truly everyday is Mother's day.                                                    

Posted 5/8/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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