You are here
This coming Shabbos we celebrate the completion of the Book of Vayikra - Leviticus, which is the third of the Five Books of the Torah.SHABBOS CHAZAK -- B`HAR B`CHUKOSAI
This Book is also known as Toras Kohanim, since it focuses on the many laws and responsibilities pertaining to the Kohanim -- the priests who conducted the services in the Holy Temple.
As the reader chants the concluding passages of Vayikra, the entire congregation rises and proclaims "Chazak, Chazak, V`nischazek"-- "Be strong, Be strong, and may we be strengthened." Thus we commit ourselves to the pursuit of Torah study, and with with G-d`s help begin the Book of BaMidbar -- Numbers, next week.
In this parsha, Behar, we study the many laws that pertain to human relations. The Torah admonishes us to be ever on guard not to cause distress, embarrassement, or anguish to our fellow man: "You shall not hurt the feelings of another, but you shall fear the L-rd your G-d...." Insulting someone, depriving him of his human dignity, is regarded as a more serious infraction than hurting him monetarily, for money can be returned, but the suffering caused by painful words leaves deep scars and cannot easily be erased.
Our sages go into great detail regarding the nuances of these laws. We are not permitted to make fun of someone, even in jest; we are not permitted to call others by derogatory names; we have to be careful not to startle or frighten anyone. We have to be on guard not to cause others distress with a nasty look, or belittle anyone, or suggest to someone who has become engaged that they could have done better. These are just a few concerns that our sages advise us to bear in mind in our interaction with our fellow man.
The parsha further states, "If your brother becomes impoverished and becomes your servant, you shall not work him with slave labor," meaning that we have to be sensitive to the feelings of those who are in our employ and not overly burden them. We must be on guard not to stifle their spirits to the point where it inhibits their relationshsip with HaShem. People who feel oppressed can become bitter, and bitterness creates an iron curtain betwen man and G-d.The parsha reminds us that, when we employ the poor, it is our responsibility, not only to provide sustenance, but also to create an atmosphere that will bring them closer to HaShem. This same teaching has bearings on our own lives as well. We have to take care not to burden ourselves to the point where a wedge is driven between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.
The concluding parsha, B`Chukosai, speaks of blessings and curses. For us, the Jewish people, blessings are accrued through immersing ourselves in Torah and constantly growing in our commitment and study. Curses and tragey befall us when we cease studying and sever our connection to our Torah -- our life-giving source. Make Torah study your priority. Join us at our Hineni classes.