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Parshas Acharei Mos/Kedoshim 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 7:37 pm
May 1, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 21
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Dvar Torah


Consenting for Ascending 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 


Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler in an essay on the topic of Yom Kippur writes about a difficult concept referred to in some sources as "bribing the Satan." We find this idea elaborated on by the Ramban in this week's Parsha. The Ramban explains a cryptic statement made by the Ibn Ezra about the sacrifice to Azazel (a cliff in the desert at which a goat was sent over and dashed upon the sharp rocks below). The Ibn Ezra writes that the Azazel is not intended for Hashem, for it is not slaughtered. Rather it is sent as a sacrifice to the one whose name is alluded to in the name Azazel, and one has to be 33 to understand this secret. What is the Ibn Ezra referring to!?


Without going into detail of how the Ramban deciphers the Ibn Ezra's message, the Ramban reveals that the Ibn Ezra was alluding to the fact that the Azazel was intended to be an offering Satan! How could this be? The Ramban explains that the purpose of the Azazel is not, chalila, to be an actual offering to the Satan. Rather it can be compared to one who makes a feast for a king and the king commands the host to give a portion to a certain servant. The host is not giving anything of his own to that servant. Instead the host is giving it all to the king, and the king in turn gives it to his servant. The intent of this gift is appreciation for the host. By insuring that all benefit from the feast it guarantees that everyone will praise and not disparage the host. So too, the Azazel is G-d's way of sharing the sacrifices of Yom Kippur so that even the Satan should speak in favor of the Jewish People on that awesome day.


What this means in practical terms is that G-d is teaching us how to deal with our personal negative inclinations (G-d does not need our sacrifices and nor does He wish us to sacrifice to the Satan, rather these actions serve to inculcate within us various lessons in service of Him). If one were to fight the Satan/negative inclination directly, it would only cause the Satan to double his efforts. However, by "including" the Satan in our decision process (i.e. by suggesting that fulfilling a certain desire is a good idea in theory but not realistic at this moment), we won't clash with the Satan head on and we will have the breathing space to properly work on ourselves.


Another method of avoiding our desires is found in the Gemarah in Chullin (109a). The Gemarah states that for all that is forbidden in the world, G-d created something similar that is permitted. By allowing a person to taste of the forbidden in a permitted manner, some of the "sting" of the curiosity is removed, allowing him to maintain control of himself.


However, Rabbi Dessler writes, that the minor "concession" must be done with the purest of motives. Otherwise this allowance might translate into a greater desire for what is actually forbidden, thereby having the opposite effect.


We find this lesson toward the end of Acharei Mos. The Nesivos Shalom asks, why does G-d have to instruct us not to follow the actions of Egypt and Canaan, if the parsha then proceeds to list those specific relationships that are forbidden? The Nesivos Shalom answers that what G-d is referring to is the permitted areas of our life. Indulgence in the permitted may also emulate the ways of Egypt and Canaan and eventually lead one down to the same immoral state as those nations. That which is permitted should be utilized responsibly with the intention of getting closer to G-d. This is part of what sets the Jewish People apart from the Nations.


May we appreciate the delicate balance of life and the tools the G-d gives us to grow and get closer to Him.




Dvar Halacha
The Laws of the Sefiras Ha'Omer  part 2  


  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenaz i



One may count the entire night (Shulchan Aruch 489:1). The mitzvah begins at night since it is the first opportunity to count [in the Hebrew calendar, each new day begins at night time]. The reason why the best time to count is at night [and according to some, one may only count at night], and not the next morning is since the Posuk says "You should count sheva shabbasos temimos (seven complete weeks)", the earlier one counts in the day makes it more of a complete day (See Mishneh Berurah 489:2 & 4). If one counted before night [shkiya (sunset)], it is too early (Be'ur Halachah 489:3 s.v. me'bod yom) and is as if he did not count that day. Therefore, he must recount with a brachah later. This is very relevant if one accepts Shabbos early, it is too early to count.


If one counted after shkiyah but before tzaitz hakochavim (nightfall), since it is safek lailah (possibly night) he fulfills his obligation (Mishneh Berurah 489:14). Nevertheless, it is preferable to recount without a brachah after taitz hakochavim (Mishneh Berurah 489:15). Someone who normally is stringent to wait for the later tzaitz hakochavim of Rabbeinu Tam to end Shabbos, should preferably wait for that time to count sefiras ha'omer (Koveitz Halachos 2:4).


One who forgot to count during the night, may count the next day until shkiyah, without a brachah (Shulchan Aruch 489:7). The next night he may continue with counting with the brachah (Mishneh Berurah 489:34).


Beginning half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim if one did not yet count, it is prohibited to begin to eat a seudah [i.e. wash on bread or eat more than a k'beitzah of pas haba b'kisnin] or to be involved in any melachah (work) that may cause one to forget to count (Rama 489:4 & Mishneh Berurah 489:23-24). Similarly, one may not go to sleep (Koveitz Halachos 3:1). It is important to note, that these restrictions only apply beginning half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim but not before shkiyah, even if one plans on counting earlier, since tzaitz hakochavim is the ideal time to begin counting (Koveitz Halachos 3:ftnt. 7). If one appoints a shomer (guardian), he may partake in the above mentioned activities. However, only a human being qualifies to be a shomer as opposed to an alarm clock (Koveitz Halachos 3:3). A person who normally davens with a minyan after tzaitz hakochavim, is not required to refrain from the above, since he will count later in shul (Koveitz Halachos 3:4 & ftnt. 10). If someone accepts Shabbos early, if one started eating the Shabbos seudah before half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim one can finish the meal and then count. However, if it is within half an hour, one may not start the seudah until he counts (Koveitz Halachos 3:5).


One should ideally recite the brachah and count himself (Shulchan Aruch 489:1). If one is unable to [either because he is physically unable or is not halachically supposed to], he should hear the brachah from someone else [with the intention to fulfill the mitzvah] and then count himself (Shaar Hatziyon 489:5).


As with all brachos being recited, it is preferable at the time of reciting the brachah to know which day it is. If one did not, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Mishneh Berurah 489:29).



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