Parshas Emor 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 7:48 pm
May 12, 2017
Volume 13 Issue 20
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Dvar Torah

The Meaning of Hishtadlus
 By Rabbi Yisroel Akerman 

 We find the title "Kohen Gadol" first used in this week's Parsha. The verse states "And the Kohen who is greater than his brothers, etc." (Vayikra 21:10) in reference to the Kohen Gadol. The Medrash (Vayikra Rabba 26:9) explains that the Kohel Gadol is aptly named, as he must excel in five areas, intellect, strength, countenance, wealth, and age. The Medrash cites a proof to the attribute of strength from the fact that Aharon Hakohein was required to "wave" 22,000 Leviim in one day. Each Levi had to be both picked up and placed back down, and also waved backwards and forwards and then up and down. If you do the math, that comes out to 1 Levi every 3 seconds without a single break for an entire 24 hour period!! Astounding is an understatement! Impossible more accurately!
The Rabbeinu Bachya explains that Aharon's duty to wave all of the Leviim was made possible solely through Divine aid-a miracle. The question arises, how can the Medrash prove from this that the Kohen Gadol must be strong, if brawn was apparently a non-factor? The whole process of waving the Leviim was miraculous from beginning to end regardless.    
To explain this difficulty, we must first understand a fundamental principle in hishtadlus, personal effort. There is a common misconception that since a person is required to put in hishtadlus in all his endeavors, if his plans come to fruition it must have been due to his hard work. This is incorrect. R' Chaim Shmuelevitz, Ztz"l explains that no undertakings are within man's ability to complete on his own. Any goal, big or small, requires tremendous Siyata Dishmaya, Divine Assistance, to accomplish. Our job is to try to the best of our abilities to achieve, and Hashem, seeing our efforts, guides our projects to fruition.  The harder a person tries, the more Hashem helps. The better the action and effort from man, the greater the reaction and aid from Above.
Using this concept, R' Chaim Shmuelevitz, Ztz"l explains that the aforementioned Medrash is not referring to the physical prowess of the Kohel Gadol, but rather to his determination and motivation to get the job done no matter what. His "strength" lies in his ability to completely divest himself from any iota of laziness and to push himself to the limits of his capabilities in his service of Hashem. That Aharon was a flying whirlwind was only the result of a miracle from Hashem. That Aharon was worthy of that miracle was due to his determination to execute the will of Hashem with every fiber of his being. May we merit to act with alacrity in our own service to Hashem and through that may we merit to Divine aid in all our endeavors. 

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Lag Ba'Omer
By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

The Tur [OC 493]writes that the days between Pesach and Shavuos aredays of judgment and mourning.  Therefore, one should not get married, take a haircut, or shave (Shulchan Aruch 493:1-2), because it is not befitting during this sad period time to increase ourjoy (Mishneh Berurah 493:2).  However, on Lag B'Omer we increase our simcha a little bit (Rema 493:2).

Why do we mourn specifically during Sefira and why do we change our mindset on Lag B'Omer?  I once heard a very nice explanation from Rabbi Hershel Welcher, shlit"a, of Queens, NY.  The Gemara [Yevamos 62b] famously teaches that Rebbe Akiva had 24,000 students who all died in a very short period of time [between Pesach and Shavuos].  The reason given as to why they were punished was because they did not show proper respect to each other.  The Gemara continues that after all the students died Eretz Yisroel was desolate.  Rashi explains this is because Torah was being forgotten.  Therefore, RebbeAkiva found five new students to teach Torah to and these students transmitted the Torah throughout EretzYisroel.  It is from these students that a large portion of Torah She'Baal Peh originates.

The implication of Rashi is that the main reason why there was a mourning period was that we are mourning over the loss of Torah.  When the students died, there was no one for RebbeAkiva to teach Torah to.  This loss is felt by every Jew, even today, because with the death of so many Torah scholars there are many original Torah thoughts that could have been learned which ultimately never came to fruition.
The poskim offer different explanations as to why we increase simcha on LagB'Omer.  The Gr"a explains that on Lag B'Omer the students stopped dying (Mishneh Berurah 493:2), and according to the Chida [Sefer Tov Eiyan 18] RebbeAkiva'snew Yeshiva started on LagB'Omer.  The Arizal teaches that RebbeShimonBarYochaidied on LagB'Omer, and on the last day of his life he taught the Zohar Hakadosh, which contains many hidden secrets of Torah, to his students.

Consequently, one can understand why LagB'Omer is a day of simcha.  True, there was a loss of thousands of Torah scholars that will never be replaced.  However, through Rebbe Akiva, and his new  students [which included Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai], there was somewhat of a tikkun, a rectification, for now there was a restoration of transmitting Torah from generation to generation.  Therefore, we mourn during sefira for the lack of Torah that was forever lost and did not bear fruit.  However, when that horrible trend started to turn around, with Rebbe Akiva starting his new yeshiva with students that would transmit the Torah to the entire world, we can understand why it is a day of celebration.

We see that Rebbi Akiva begins the revival of Torah on Lag B'Omer, and Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai, who represents the toiling of Torah even in the most difficult of times, completes his life on Lag B'Omer with the revelation of Torah.  Perhaps the celebration of Lag B'Omer is that even in exile, Lag B'Omer remains the day which is the future of Jewish people.  It is not merely that RebbeAkiva's students stopped dying, rather that the transmission of Torah will continue as we see has happened throughout our long galus.


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